LEWISTON — Each spring over the past several years, the entire student body from L’École Française du Maine in Freeport has come to Lewiston to put on a show in French for about 250 patrons of the Franco Center’s monthly French luncheon, known as “La Rencontre.”

Approximately 80 students will put on another show at the next La Rencontre, set for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 13.

This year the students are participating in a circus production from France known as Cie Tour du Cirque, a traveling husband-and-wife team who visit accredited French schools throughout America to teach students about the circus and to incorporate the children into the show. The children will sing, dance, juggle, do acrobatics and magic tricks in a show entitled “Derrière la Porte,” which translates as “Behind the Door.”

“In the francophone world the circus is a deep part of our culture, so it’s very culturally relevant to what we do here,” said Willy LeBihan, director of L’École Française du Maine, a K-6 elementary school and one of 40 French-language schools in the United States that enjoy full accreditation by the French national government.

The couple who created this circus, Farid Abed and Marion Achard, come from the Dijon region in the eastern part of France. They will arrive in Maine on March 9, for the final stop of their current east coast tour and will spend four days at the school preparing the children for their roles. The circus has also appeared at schools in New Orleans, North Carolina, New York and Boston.

The student circus will immediately follow lunch, where patrons will be served lasagna with ground beef from DaVinci’s Eatery along with their signature “garlic knot” bread rolls, which is another annual tradition at the Franco Center. The cost to attend La Rencontre is $7, which includes both the meal and the entertainment. To make reservations, call 207-783-1585 any weekday between noon and 4 p.m. The deadline for reservations is 4 p.m. Monday, March 10.

In the past when La Rencontre was held on a Fridays, the lasagna was always meatless in observance of Catholic prohibitions on meat consumption on Fridays during lent. Now that La Rencontre has been moved to Thursdays, however, ground beef no longer poses a problem for observers of Lent.

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