Art & Architecture

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The Cité internationale de la langue française

esquisse des façades Est du château de Villers-Cotterêts

Cité internationale de la langue française : ask for the program !

The City

Open to the world and anchored in its territory, the Cité internationale de la langue française, whose tour will open soon, will be a cultural and living place entirely dedicated to the French language. It will link the past, present and future of the French language and the French-speaking world, around three pillars: culture & creation, education & training, research & innovation .

A multidisciplinary space accessible to the greatest number of people, it will articulate varied and complementary activities: tours, temporary exhibitions, shows, residency workshops for artists, researchers and entrepreneurs, educational activities, learning and training in the French language...

The Cité's ambition is to reveal the French language as a source of creativity and exchange, of intellectual and aesthetic development, of pleasure and as a lever for social, economic and civic integration.

In view of the many issues raised by the French language (cultural, social, political) in its relationship to the world, the Cité will combine a variety of activities with a creative, sensitive, participatory and open approach to the language.

The Cité in figures :

  • 1600 m² of permanent and temporary exhibitions
  • 250 seats in the auditorium
  • 12 residency workshops for artists, researchers and entrepreneurs
  • 2 local shops: a bookstore-boutique and a café-tea room
  • A varied program of shows, events, conferences and exhibitions
  • Educational activities, training and language learning
  • A research and innovation laboratory on linguistic issues

The Centre des monuments nationaux works with nearly 80 public and private partners, from local to international, from the cultural, artistic, educational and training fields, social and associative organizations, etc., to build the cultural, artistic and institutional program of the Cité.

Aerial view of the Cité internationale de la langue française
Aerial view of the Cité internationale de la langue française

© Olivier Weets

The permanent course

The permanent tour of the Cité internationale de la langue française will offer a sensitive immersion in the heart of the French language thanks to an interactive and playful tour that will provide moments of wonder, discovery and learning.

A room will be dedicated to the interpretation of the castle in its territory.

Some key figures :

  • 1200 m² of permanent tour
  • 100 works, objects and documents
  • 60 audiovisual and digital devices
  • About thirty scientific contributors representative of the French-speaking world
  • About twenty lenders of works
  • About fifteennational and international partnerinstitutions
  • 3 artistic commissions

Château de Villers-Cotterêts, logis royal, restored coffered ceiling of the royal staircase
Château de Villers-Cotterêts, logis royal, restored coffered ceiling of the royal staircase

© Pierre-Olivier Deschamps - Agence Vu' / Centre des monuments nationaux

We'll show you around?

The first room, "A castle, a territory", will reveal the history of the monument, from its construction to its recent restoration, its environment, its architecture and the great figures who are attached to Villers-Cotterêts and its territory, such as Alexandre Dumas. Visitors will access it via the King's Staircase, which will give voice to the era of the court of François I. This room will be accessible free of charge to all visitors of the Cité.

The tour will continue in the four wings of the castle; the visitor will discover the language in all its diversity on the scale of the French-speaking world, in its creativity, its particularities and its history. He will cross contemplative, immersive, playful or interactive spaces. It will not be a matter of explaining the French language in a scholastic way, but rather of giving it to be seen, heard and loved.

The first permanent exhibition entirely dedicated to the French language, the permanent tour is designed under the scientific curatorship of Xavier North, Barbara Cassin, Zeev Gourarier and Hassane Kassi Kouyaté.

It will be based on some sixty innovative mediation devices and precious objects, documents and works lent by some twenty national and international partner institutions(Académie française, Centre national des arts plastiques, Comédie française, Musée du Louvre, Musée de l'Armée, Mucem, Musée national de l'Éducation, Musée national des Arts asiatiques - Guimet, Musée des beaux-arts de Tours, Musée de la Civilisation du Québec...).

The tour will also be punctuated by contemporary artistic creations.

Scenographic sketch of the hall "One castle, one territory", with audience
Scenographic sketch of the hall "One castle, one territory"

© Atelier Projectiles

A world language: an odyssey through French-speaking cultures

Visitors will begin their journey with a dive into the richness of Francophone creation around the language. The dynamism of French in the world will be expressed through multiple cultural and artistic expressions and situations of everyday life: passion in love, laughter, revolt... They will discover the place of this "world language" written and spoken on the 5 continents, without forgetting the historical factors that contributed to its diffusion.

Sketch of the scenographic project "A language of world influence"
Sketch of the scenographic project "A language of world influence"

© Atelier Projectiles

A continuous invention

Visitors will discover that French is a composite language, in movement, which has evolved over the centuries phonetically but also through its borrowings from other languages. It will be a reminder that we are all actors in the evolution of the language in the choice of words, new or old, French or foreign, that we use every day to describe what we live. This sequence will allow us to have fun with the French language by discovering sounds and words from around the world.

Scenographic sketch, "Language in motion"
Scenographic sketch, "Language in motion"

© Atelier Projectiles

An affair of state

The last section of the tour will invite the visitor to discover the relationship between the language and the State, through key dates and moments, highlighting their impact even today in daily life.

The contents of the tour, offered in French, will also be translated into English and German. An application will allow access to the contents in 5 other languages and to accessibility options such as sign language and audio description.

Scenographic Sketch "The Revolution and the Regional Languages"
Scenographic Sketch "The Revolution and the Regional Languages"

© Atelier Projectiles

A program that will make you travel

A varied and accessible cultural offer

The Cité internationale de la langue française's programming will be multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary and will promote the diversity of French-speaking cultures in all their forms of expression: literature, performing arts, visual arts, and digital arts will all have their place. Exhibitions, shows, concerts, festivals, events, meetings, readings, performances, all forms will be called upon...

This program will be built in collaboration with the cultural actors of the territory and with the national and international operators working in this field, to welcome a large audience. It will be deployed in the various spaces (touring, temporary exhibitions, educational and training activities, residencies for artistic creation and research, etc.).

The Jeu de Paume building will be transformed into a modular auditorium with 250 seats for shows, conferences, seminars, etc. The objective will also be to make Villers-Cotterêts the point of meetings, collaborations and exchanges between the various professional networks linked to the French language (academic, cultural, international cooperation, social field, etc.).

Auditorium design sketch
Auditorium design sketch

© Atelier Projectiles

And much more...

A place of training and language learning for all

La Cité will house French trainingactivities for trainers and for all learners, children, (young) adults, Francophones and allophones. Particular attention will be paid to the fight against illiteracy and to the challenge of social integration through a better command of the French language. In order to diversify the audiences welcomed and to encourage the exchange of good pedagogical practices, the CMN will rely on the expertise of its partners from different fields: teaching French as a foreign language (FLE), literacy, social and integration fields, national education actors, etc.

Sketch showing the areas dedicated to workshops and training courses
Sketch showing the areas dedicated to workshops and training courses

© Atelier Projectiles

Artists, researchers, entrepreneurs: the Cité welcomes you

What about language professionals?

On the second floor of the Cité, twelve workshops ranging from 15 to 110 m2 will be set up to host artists of all disciplines, writers, researchers, entrepreneurs and educators in residence who are conducting a reflection or project related to the French language or languages in general. The residents will be invited to present their creations in the Cité's exhibition spaces (temporary exhibitions, auditorium...).

The Cité's team will encourage exchanges between residents, accompany them in their project and invite them to meet the territory.

Some examples of residencies that will be proposed? A typographic creation residency, a residency on comics in the French-speaking world and an international cross-residency involving French and Quebec partners.

A laboratory for pedagogical innovation on the future challenges of language

Conceived as a "laboratory for the French-speaking world", the Cité aims to be at the forefront of future issues related to the French language: the fight against illiteracy, new language learning solutions, etc. It intends to bring together researchers, businesses and the public to develop new applications related to languages and language learning. Any innovative project in these fields will be invited to test it in the Cité's spaces, drawing on the cultural and scientific resources of the site and interacting with visitors.

This "laboratory" will thus be a space for meetings, debates and reflections between professionals on the future of the French language and, more broadly, of languages and their learning.

Esquisse scénographique représentant la salle "Québec"
Scenographic sketch, "Québec" room

© Atelier Projectiles

A place of everyday life

A café-tea room and a bookstore will be accessible during the Cité's opening hours, for the inhabitants of Villers-Cotterêts and its surroundings as well as for visitors.

The bookshop will offer products and works related to the Cité's program, but also current French-language literary titles, the bookseller's favorites, a local offer...

In partnership with local associations, activities will be offered to facilitate the use of the French language in everyday life and to improve its oral and written practice. The public will be able to take advantage ofeloquence workshops to prepare for a job interview, the presence of a public writer to complete administrative formalities orhomework help for young Cotteréziens...

Scenographic sketch, bookshop-boutique
Scenographic sketch, bookshop-boutique

© Atelier Projectiles