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Edinburgh Summer Festivals 2017
70th contribution by Institut français d’Ecosse

The conclusion of World War II in 1945 opened up a total renewal of international relations. Coming after two world conflicts in a generation which saw the clash of exacerbated nationalisms and human destruction on a horrific scale, they quickly led to the creation of the United Nations, the beginning of the construction of a community of European nations and the decolonization of extra-european territories. Unlike political relations, cultural ties had been sustained throughout the war period and were instrumental in shaping a new world order based on cooperation and shared rules and institutions rather than confrontation.

For the French in that juncture, Scotland was a major focus. The Free French, who sought refuge in Britain to continue the fight against the occupation forces on the continent, used the Clyde and the Tay as key bases. A house was offered to them in Edinburgh in 1942 as a place to rest. After the war, the consulate which had been based in the economic capital Glasgow for a while returned to Edinburgh and recycled the “Scottish Free French House”, still the present consular residence. The French Institute opened on Randolph Crescent in 1946 to become one of the founding partners of the Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals.

70 years after, the continuous contribution of France to Scotland’s cultural life and international impact is celebrated with the determination to be true to the original principles and aspirations of the Festivals, as a universally and european-minded endeavour that transcend troubling and distressing circumstances to nurture friendships, partnerships, peace, justice and beauty. This is manifest through an active programming input, French in flavour and essentially cross-border, into the International Festival, the Fringe - with our “Vive le Fringe” season- , the Art Festival and the Book Festival at the same time, and exceptionally spread over two venues: the historic West End premises that will close right after the festival season and the new Lothian Chambers’ “Maison de la France” which takes over from September, in the very heart of the city and festival area, a sign of France’s investment in Scotland and a truly European statement in its own right.

Emmanuel Cocher
Consul General of France
Director, French Institute in Scotland

Autumn 2016


It’s been 70 years this fall since the French Institute first opened in Edinburgh, making it one of the very first partners of the Edinburgh International and Fringe festival. Our substantial and successful contribution to the 2016 edition of the festivals is a proof of our ongoing involvement in Scottish international culture life.

Partnerships are a trademark of all our cultural endeavours. It is therefore my great pleasure to welcome new partners who are helping us developing our programme and offers. One of the French founders of expert merchant company L’Art du vin, Richard Bouglet, together with the consulate’s very own chef, Yohann Roy, will bring you the “best of French wine and cuisine” in the form of practical training and tasting workshops. The universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews inaugurate our rebranded “Parenthèses (histoire)” series with accessible top academic insight and, together with our pioneering “correspondents” at the University of Aberdeen, will now be home to the first of our French Institute “hors les murs” groups of members.

Membership is essential to the operation of this cultural centre. Unlike other institutions, such as our cousins and friends at Alliance Française Glasgow, we are not governed by a board since we are part of the French embassy in the United Kingdom. However we remain very much member driven and funded. This is why we feel particularly grateful for the renewed commitment of the Society of Friends, who gather individual donors and business partners’ support for some of our key actions, such as the coming relaunch of our online services. This is also why we are developing the aforementioned relays outside Edinburgh (with more to come) and why some free events such as our popular cinema screenings will now be offered to our members only. Membership rates, individual or through the correspondent-led groups (starting at £10 only), have been redesigned to be even more affordable for all. It’s time to join really !

Emmanuel Cocher
Director of the Institut français d’Écosse and Consul general of France

Spring 2016


« Everything goes faster! » : such is the title of a documentary out on French screens in April this year, a moving and thought provoking counterpoint between the reflections of a class of ten-year olds and that of notoriously qualified scientists. After attending its preview in Brest early March, I told the teacher and director how much I would like to let Scottish audiences become acquainted with this fantastic segment of today’s French society, multicultural and yet united in its belief in the benefits of philosophy and reason as necessary foundations for the construction of the earth’s future.

An ever-changing world with limited resources to fuel unlimited ambitions requires a renewal in everyone’s approach to citizenship and political and economic responsibility. If the younger generation finds its way more spontaneously towards realism and solidarity, devalues easy ideological models, and demonstrates a wide-ranging and practical spirit of social innovation, let’s follow them!

At its modest scale, the French Institute in Scotland aims at increasingly committing itself to contributing to cultural exchanges in the deepest and most politically sound sense: because France and Scotland have historically been keen to nurture reason as an enlightening gift to mankind, and because so many realities - economic, social and political - tend to challenge universalist visions and generous endeavours. I very much hope that our contribution in that direction is deemed relevant and that the various elements of the current and accelerating transformation in the nature of our presence and action in this country (an increased mobilization of the French community, the launch of the French Institute’s « correspondents » throughout Scotland to maximise our impact, specific programmes for the young, the multiplication of partnerships) are perceived positively.

Emmanuel Cocher
Director of the Institut français d’Écosse and Consul general of France

Winter 2016


The French Institute in Scotland is the natural place for the French community, learners and lovers of French and those interested in all things French and universal to converge to. The new parenthèses series is designed to add a time dimension to this dynamic of meeting and sharing. In the most informal, demonstrative and interactive way, speakers invested in the broadest spectrum of cultural, social and creative life will share their knowledge, thoughts and endeavours. They will act as catalysts for our personal and collective reflections in a challenging environment.

Not only do I hope to meet many at these and other stimulating events but I trust a number of you will want to open their own parenthèse with us in the months to come. Do come forward with ideas!

Emmanuel Cocher
Director of the Institut français d’Écosse and Consul general of France

Autumn 2015


After having dealt with multilateral affairs (United Nations, economic, social and environmental, defense and security affairs) and management (human resources and finance) during the first half of my diplomatic career, I am leading the representation of France in Scotland.

My mission is supported by two structures, the consulate general and the cultural institute, l’Institut français d’Écosse. My team is fully devoted to deepen the full spectrum of Franco-Scottish co-operation:

  • Spread French language and culture in Scotland
  • Support and develop Franco-Scottish partnerships
  • Animate and serve the French community
  • Represent the Ambassador and French Authorities.

The consulate general, the Institut français and the Free French House, the figurehead of French presence in Edinburgh, are open to all. French nationals, Scots, permanent or temporary residents or visitors, please feel at home here. We are committed to ensuring they are, more than anything else, meeting places that enable us to highlight talents and prove instrumental in supporting partnerships and common projects.

We thank you for your interest, support and contribution. We are all fully available to exchange with you or meet you. We are looking forward to sharing and supporting your Franco-Scottish initiatives.

Emmanuel Cocher
Director of the Institut français d’Écosse and Consul general of France

Institut Français Écosse 2020