Reviving cultural festivals seem to be "à la mode," and francophiles aren't being left out as for the first time in 30 years, a weeklong festival is being organised to celebrate French culture and the links between France and Jersey - just before France's National Day.
"Le French Festival" will kick off on 7 July with a quintessentially French pétanque tournament at Millennium Park, followed by a series of exhibitions, concerts, movies, guided tours, a Norman market and even a sailing race, up until 16 July.
The first Jersey-France Festival was launched in June 1986 and was repeated for three years - but after 30 years without an event celebrating French culture, the States felt that something needed to be done. Rod McLoughlin, the States cultural officer, got behind a 'reboot' and a group consisting of the Alliance Française, the Honorary Council and the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche quickly got together to set things in motion.
While Xavier Souris, Director of the Maison de la Normandie cannot explain "...the resurgence for festivals" after the recent revival of the Italian Festival, David Myatt, the French Honorary Consul says that now is the right time for a French event. He told Express: "In the 1980's, Jersey had a French career consul who had finances and people working for him. The way things were organised was different and the other committees weren't as important as they are now. For all those reasons, there wasn't much activity around a festival in the previous years. Today is the right time to do it as there is a better impulse, effort and animation and there has been an important movement around French culture recently."
The festival which aims, "...to celebrate the links between Jersey and its closest neighbour on the occasion of the week of the national day 'Fête de la Bastille'" will last from 7 July to 16 July with a programme which honours French classics such as pétanque and Bizet's Carmen, as well as French comedy with the iconic movie "La Grande Vradouille" (“Don't Look Now... We're Being Shot At!").
Other highlights include the exhibition of a 22 metre long, and 60 centimetre high, tapestry telling the story of the first Duke of Normandy, Rollo; a contemporary art exhibition loaned by the city of Rennes, a concert by a 'funky' fanfare from Brittany and the arrival of the 100 boats and 700 competitors from the Tour des Ports de la Manche who will be in Jersey for one night.
On France's national day, the first trilingual street sign in the Island will be unveiled on Hilgrove Street, which many know as French lane. A guided tour will also take visitors down memory lane to learn more about the history of Jersey's French community.
As part of the festivities, the Norman market will also be present all week at the Weighbridge with a selection of typical French products.
Le French Festival will also be the occasion to help foster new business relationships as the Maison de Normandie, with the help of Jersey Business and CCI International Normandie, has invited six Norman entrepreneurs from different sectors to meet their Jersey counterparts.
To bring the festival back to light, the group of organisers has received the help of many institutional partners as well as businesses and parishes which makes the festival "more than a community project" according to Xavier Souris, while it is a proof of a renewed interest for Camille Perdereau, Director of the Alliance Française. She said: "French culture and France somehow didn't get much attention in Jersey for many years but today there is a reverse movement and a renewed interest."
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