Macron to turn derelict chateau into global beacon for French language and culture

A run-down royal chateau near Paris is to be converted into a global centre for the promotion and study of the French language as part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to boost France's place on the world stage.

Macron to turn derelict chateau into global beacon for French language and culture
Photo: Chateau Royal Villers-Cotterêts website

The chateau in Villers-Cotterêts, to the north east of Paris, was where a royal edict was signed in the 16th century by King François I that made French the official language of the kingdom, displacing Latin and regional languages.

The symbolism of the castle, two thirds of which has been bricked up, made it a perfect choice for the president to set up what will officially be known as the Cité de la Francophonie – which translates roughly into English as the Centre for the French-speaking community in the world.

Macron was due to provide more details about the project, which Le Monde said was likely to cost 200 million, in a speech he will give later Tuesday to mark “International Francophonie Day”.

The 90,000 m2 chateau, which is currently described as a little run-down, will be spruced up and renovated and the centre will be officially opened in 2022, but some parts will be opened well before then, with the first due to throw open its doors by the end of this year.

Photo: Photo: Chateau Royal Villers-Cotterêts website

The plan is to create a space “for all francophone (French-speaking) cultures”, a place of public debate as well as accommodation for artists, researchers and entrepreneurs, Elysée officials said.

Another reason for the choice of Villers-Cotterêts is that the town is the birthplace of one of France’s best-known writers, Alexandre Dumas, who is best known for his 19th-century adventure novels The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

(Photo: Chateau Royal Villers-Cotterêts website)

Macron boldly claimed last November, during a visit to Burkina Faso, that “if we go about it right, French will be the first language in Africa and maybe even the world in the coming decades!”

That is a tall order for a language that was only the world's sixth-most spoken language in 2014, after Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic or Hindi, according to official French figures.

Macron based his prediction on a study from The International Francophonie Organization which forecast that, due to explosive population growth in Africa, over one billion people will live in French-speaking countries by 2065, second only to countries that speak English.

Critics have described the statistics as misleading, noting that not all inhabitants of countries that have French as an official language speak what was once the language of diplomacy.


Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.