Cité internationale de la langue française: ask for the programme!
The future Cité internationale de la langue française – north view © Olivier Weets
The Cité internationale de la langue française will be at once rooted in its region and open to the world. It is scheduled to open soon and will be a cultural and leisure site entirely dedicated to the French language. It will connect the past, present and future of the French language and French-speaking world based on three themes: culture & creation; education & training; research & innovation.
The site will be a multidisciplinary institute accessible to as many people as possible. It will bring together varied and complementary activities: a visitor circuit, temporary exhibitions, performances, residency workshops for artists, researchers and entrepreneurs, and educational activities on the French language.
The Cité internationale de la langue française aims to showcase the French language as a source of creativity and discussion, pleasure, and intellectual and aesthetic flourishing, and as a lever for social, economic and civic integration.
Given the range of challenges the French language poses in its relation to the world (cultural, social, political), the institute will combine various activities, opting for an approach to the language that is creative, sensitive, participative and open-minded.
1,600 m² surface area of temporary and permanent exhibitions
250 seats in the auditorium
12 residency workshops for artists, researchers and entrepreneurs
2 retail outlets: a gift and book shop and a café-tearoom
A varied programme of performances, events, conferences and exhibitions
Educational, training and language-learning activities
A research and innovation laboratory focused on linguistic challenges
The Centre des monuments nationaux works with around eighty local and international partners in the public and private spheres in culture, the arts, education, social affairs and community organisations to put together a cultural, artistic and institutional programme for the Cité internationale de la langue française.
The permanent visitor circuit at the Cité internationale de la langue française will offer a sense-based immersion in the French language through a fun, interactive pathway that has moments of wonder, discovery and learning in store.
A room will also be dedicated to the portrayal of the château in its region.
1,200 m² surface area forming the permanent visitor circuit
100 works, objects and documents
60 audiovisual and digital devices
Around thirty scientific contributors representing the French-speaking world
Around twenty lenders of works
Around fifteen partner institutionsin France and around the world
3 artistic commissions
An initial room ‘A château, a domain’ will recount the monument’s history – from when it was first built up to its recent restoration, its environment, its architecture and the major figures who have had ties with Villers-Cotterêts and its region, like Alexandre Dumas. Reached via the King’s staircase, here visitors can hear from voices from the time of King Francis I’s court. This room will be free of charge to all visitors to the Cité internationale de la langue française.
Logis Royal, coffered ceiling of the restored King’s staircase © Pierre-Olivier Deschamps – Agence Vu’ / Centre des monuments nationaux
The visitor circuit will continue in the château’s four wings, where visitors will discover the French language in all its diversity throughout the French-speaking world, in its creativity, its distinctive identity and its history. The circuit comprises contemplative, immersive, fun and interactive areas. It is not about giving an academic explanation of the French language, but rather about allowing people to see, understand and enjoy.
Visitor circuit map
The permanent visitor circuit is the first permanent exhibition dedicated entirely to the French language. It was designed under the supervision of a scientific commission made up of Xavier North, Barbara Cassin, Zeev Gourarier and Hassane Kassi Kouyaté.
It will be based on around sixty innovative explanatory devices and precious objects, documents and works loaned out by some twenty partner institutions in France and around the world (including the Académie française, the French visual arts institute Centre national des arts plastiques, the Comédie française theatre company, the Louvre Museum, the musée de l'Armée national military museum, the French national Museum of Education, the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts in Paris, the Tours Fine Arts Museum, and the Quebec Museum of Civilisation).
The visitor circuit will also be punctuated with contemporary artistic creations.
Visitors will begin their journey with an immersion into the French-speaking world’s breadth of creation centred on the French language. The vibrancy of the French language throughout the world will be seen through a variety of cultural and artistic expressions and in everyday situations, including romantic passion, laughter and rebellion. Visitors will discover the role of this world language written and spoken on the globe’s five continents and the historical factors that have contributed to its spread.
Sketch of the interior design of ‘A language with global influence’ © Atelier Projectiles
Visitors will discover that the French language is a dynamic patchwork that has evolved over the centuries – phonetically and through loan words from other languages. They will be reminded that each of us plays a role in the French language’s development through our choice of words – old or new, French or foreign – that help us describe what we experience on a daily basis. This section offers a chance to have fun with the French language through the discovery of tones and words from around the world.
Sketch of the interior design of ‘A language in motion’ © Atelier Projectiles
The last section of the circuit will invite visitors to discover the relation between the French language and the State through dates and key moments, highlighting the impact they still have on daily life today.
Sketch of the interior design of ‘The French Revolution and regional languages’ © Atelier Projectiles
The visitor circuit content is in French but will also be translated into English and German. An application will provide access to the content in five other languages and to options that make it accessible to all, such as like sign language and audio description.
The programme of the Cité internationale de la langue française will be multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary. It will highlight the diversity of French-speaking cultures in all their forms of expression, giving pride of place to literature, performing arts, visual arts and digital arts. All forms of cultural events will be held there: exhibitions, performances, concerts, festivals, special events, talks, readings, performances and more.
This programme will be put together in partnership with regional cultural players and with French and international cultural operators to welcome a wide range of members of the public. It will unfold in the site’s different areas (visitor circuit, temporary exhibitions, educational activities, residencies for artistic creation and research, etc.).
Location of the auditorium
The Jeu de Paume building will be transformed into a modular 250-seat auditorium for performances, conferences, seminars, and suchlike. Its purpose will also be to make Villers-Cotterêts a centre for talks, partnerships and discussion between different professional networks in the French language (in education, culture, international cooperation, social initiatives, etc.).
Sketch of the auditorium © Atelier Projectiles
Location of the exhibitions area
The Cité internationale de la langue française will include French language learning activities for teachers and for all learners, children, young adults, francophones and allophones. Special attention will be given to the fight against illiteracy and the challenge of social integration through mastery of the French language. To diversify the types of visitors it welcomes and to encourage the sharing of best practices in education, the Centre des monuments nationaux will rely on the expertise of its partners in a range of fields: the teaching of French as a foreign language, literacy teaching, social initiatives and integration, players in France’s education system, etc.
Sketch of the workshop and learning spaces © Atelier Projectiles
So what about professionals of the French language in all of this?
On the second floor of the Cité internationale de la langue française, twelve workshops ranging from 15 m² to 110 m² in surface area will be fitted out for residencies for artists in all disciplines, writers, researchers, entrepreneurs and teachers who are undertaking a study or project linked to the French language or languages in general. Residents will be invited to present their creations in the display areas of the Cité internationale de la langue française (temporary exhibitions area, auditorium, etc.).
The team at the Cité internationale de la langue française will facilitate discussion between residents, support them in their projects and bring them into contact with the region.
Examples of the residencies that will be offered include the following: A residency in typographical creation, a residency in graphic novels in the French-speaking world, and an international combined residency bringing together partners from France and Quebec.
Sketch of the dance studio on the residency workshops floor © Atelier Projectiles
The Cité internationale de la langue française has been designed as a kind of laboratory of the French-speaking world. Its purpose is to be closely in touch with tomorrow’s challenges in regard to the French language, from the fight against illiteracy to new solutions in language learning. It aims to help researchers, businesses and members of the public work together on new solutions in languages and language learning. Anyone behind a new project idea in these fields is invited to test their idea within the premises of the Cité internationale de la langue française by using the site’s cultural and scientific resources and by interacting with the visitors.
This so-called laboratory will therefore be a venue for encounters, debate and reflections among professionals in regard to the future of the French language and, more broadly, languages and language learning.
Location of the café-tearoom
Location of the gift and book shop
A café-tearoom and bookshop will be open during the opening times of the Cité internationale de la langue française, both for inhabitants of Villers-Cotterêts and its surrounding area and for visitors.
The gift and book shop will sell products and works in connection with the programme at the Cité internationale de la langue française, as well as recent publications in Francophone literature and the bookshop’s favourites, forming a local retail outlet.
Sketch of the gift and book shop © Atelier Projectiles
In partnership with regional associations, activities will be run to facilitate use of the French language in daily life and improve oral and written practice. Members of the public will be able to take part in eloquence workshops to prepare for job interviews, speak with a writing consultant for administrative formalities, and get help with homework for young inhabitants of Villers-Cotterêts.
Since 2019, the Maison du Projet showcase centre, a place of information-sharing and mediation, has been running a series of educational and cultural activities (conferences, workshops, talks, etc.) for all members of the public. It presents all aspects of the project (worksite, monument history, French language) and is designed to give a glimpse of the programme and test cooperation with various partners. To discover the programme at the Maison du Projet, click here.
The Château de Villers-Cotterêts Maison du Projet
The permanent visitor circuit on the French language, the gift and book shop, the auditorium and the other areas will open in 2023.
While awaiting your visit to the Cité internationale de la langue française in Villers-Cotterêts, you can find all the answers to your questions in our FAQ section, as well as discovering the history of the French language and the French language throughout the world!