La Vie en Cassoulet

A Francophile festival says "bonjour" to NYC

The French don't do booze cruises.

The Sud de France Festival, a three-week Francophile extravaganza, kicked off last night with an enchanting four-course dinner aboard a 62' long boat, the Water Table, from non-Frenchman Ignacio Mattos of NYC's beloved Estela.

Gliding past Lady Liberty at sunset, we tucked in to a sophisticated meal of seafood and seasonal produce–all the more impressive considering the cabin's microscopic kitchen.

Did we mention the live French jazz ensemble on board?

The mission of the festival, which runs through June 30: to celebrate the Languedoc-Roussillon region–home of fine cassoulet, bourride sétoise (fish stew), and wines of all stripes–in all its gastronomic glory.

If you missed the, ahem, boat on the Estela dinner, fear not: there's still a double-decker wine crawl bus ride to attend, a salt cod-centric block party, and South of France-themed dinners at restaurants like Contra, The Cleveland, and Navy, among others. It's an impressively original celebration, right up to a tagline we can get behind–"All you need is anchovies."

Check out the full lineup of events here, and toast to capturing joie de vivre–the French do know a thing or two about the good life.