Think French, and what comes to mind? Perhaps a cheese-loving Parisian with a curly moustache, wearing a striped T-shirt with a beret on his head. Most likely he's riding around the Eiffel Tower on a bicycle, munching on a baguette.
"It's not completely wrong," says Julien-Loïc Garin, who's organising Hong Kong's 23rd Le French May Arts Festival. But the French are also elegant and highly cultured. There's no denying that they have created some of the world's best fashion, music, and cuisine. Just think Christian Dior, Daft Punk, and crepes.
Truth is, says Garin, it's difficult to define what makes something French; but at the same time it's very easy to recognise it. While a lot of French art today stems from the country's rich cultural foundation, many modern twists have been added. Themed "Essentially French", this year's Le French May is the perfect chance for you to explore what being French is all about.
Celebrating the 500th anniversary of the reign of King Francis I, who initiated the French Renaissance and brought artists such as Leonardo da Vinci to France, more than 120 cultural programmes will take place all over the city in the next two months. That's a lot to choose from; Young Post has picked some you should definitely check out.
Wipe Out - Street Artist Invader
(May 2-17, 10am-8pm, The Qube, PMQ)
Invader is known for the pixelated mosaic artwork of Space Invaders which he has placed in more than 60 cities over the last 17 years or so. He's "invaded" Hong Kong three times, using tiles to form characters such as Hong Kong Phooey, Pac-Man, and Popeye. On his last visit, most of his work was removed within a couple of weeks.
You'll be able to see recreations of the art next to photos of the works in their original locations. There will also be some completely new, never-before-seen work, including videos, LED artwork, a Bruce Lee sculpture and RubikCubist pieces made by assembling hundreds of Rubik's Cubes.
Hip hop Ballet by The Roots
(May 16-17. 8:15pm, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Tickets HK$80-HK$380)
Hip hop became popular in France mainly because of the large African communities there. When the dance style first came to France in the 1980s, it was influenced by mime, contemporary dance, and burlesque.
Algerian-born choreographer Kader Attou brings together 11 hip hop dancers, mixing their styles with contemporary dance and the classical Indian dance kathak to put together a performance that harks back to the roots of hip hop.
Royal Festivities at the French Court in the 16th Century
(May 28, 8pm, HK City Hall Tickets HK$180-HK$380)
The Doulce Mémoire Ensemble take you back in time to enjoy the festivities once held in King Francis I's court. It's a night for 16th century music, singing, dancing and costumes.
The ensemble was founded in 1989 by French flautist Denis Raisin Dadre to perform music that Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael would have heard.
Comédie Ballet: The Bourgeois Gentleman
(June 4-5, 7.30pm, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Tickets HK$120-HK$480)
The oxymoron in the show's name is a hint at the satirical humour you'll find in this classical play by Moliere, one of the greatest playwrights in Western literature. The play premiered in 1670, but its wordplay is still razor-sharp, poking fun at the pretentious middle classes and snobbish aristocrats.
As a comedie ballet, the drama is mixed with dance and music, and features flamboyant costumes. The play will be performed in French, with English and Chinese subtitles.