South Charlotte

Parlez-vous français?

Perhaps you've imagined strolling Paris, nibbling a croissant, éclair or chocolate while conversing in French.

Alliance Francaise of Charlotte, a nonprofit organization dedicated to French language and culture, offers language classes for adults of all skill levels.

Fall classes begin Sept. 6 at Myers Park Baptist Church.

Betty Parker became president of the approximately 200-member local organization in June. The chapter has a lengthy history, and it's affiliated with the worldwide Alliance Francaise, a cultural institution in France.

Parker says the classes are small and many of the teachers are native French speakers.

"When I was in high school, I took French, but the woman teaching me French was not French," Parker said. "So by having French teachers teaching the classes, you get, I think, better instruction on your pronunciation, and also, being native French speakers, they know all the idiomatic expressions."

When a guest visits Parker's home, it's easy to discern her love for all things French. There's the decorative pillow in the living room proclaiming she'd rather be in Paris. A dining-room wall holds a painting of a Paris street scene with the Eiffel Tower in the background. And Parker wears an eye-catching necklace with a fleur-de-lis design.

Parker, 68, and her husband, Paul, have four grown children.

Parker is not French but has some important reasons for maintaining a strong interest in France and visiting several times each year. Her daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters live in a Paris suburb. Parker's daughter moved to France for work and married a Frenchman.

The major fundraiser is the annual Beaujolais festival, planned for Nov. 18 this year. "That is a totally fun evening," Parker said.

The festival features wine-tasting stations, music, a live auction, raffle and French food. Additional events take place throughout the year, including during Christmas and Easter.