French Civilisation

The French Civilisation and Culture group aims to meet on the last Tuesday of the month save for August.

Our intention is to look at all aspects of France, from high to popular culture, politics, history, art and film. Past lectures have examined President Macron, Marine Le Pen, and French cinema, as well as Haussmann and Paris as part of the Institution’s Cities programme.

Our meeting on Tuesday 25 February 2020 saw Catriona Seth, Fellow of All Souls and holder of the Marshal Foch Chair at the University of Oxford, speaking on Clandestine Correspondence: the letters of Marie Antoinette and Count Mercy.  For over 20 years Marie Antoinette exchanged notes and letters with the Imperial Ambassador to France. Was she a naive puppet of the Hapsburgs, betraying French secrets? The more than 100 letters and notes, many of them unpublished, which she wrote to the diplomat during her time in Versailles and at the Tuileries give answers to these and to many other questions. An engaged audience asked a wide range of questions. Myths were dispelled, and a more nuanced picture of Marie Antoinette emerged.

Events are held in English, and films are always subtitled – you do not need to be a fluent French speaker to get involved and enjoy our programme.

Venez nombreux, as they say across the Channel…


Steve Wharton

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French Civilisation

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