I am writing to you to wish you a very happy and successful 2017. It will be a year of hectic change in Europe and the United States.
We have seen how the horrors that were inflicted on France by acts of terror awakened the real emotional solidarity that joins our two countries.
2017 will demonstrate how important that solidarity is at a time of political uncertainty, volatility, and anxiety.
Elections in France and Germany, the start of the Brexit negotiations, the trans-Atlantic relationship with an unpredictable President in the White House will all combine to confuse our view of the future. What we will need to rely upon is the friendship between Britain and France, the values we share, the culture and creativity that characterize our two peoples and our two languages.
This is what the Franco-British Society is all about.
However, what we must also recognise is that the Society is short of funds and short of people. We need many more young members and in my view we must build links with the many French businesses and French people working and investing here in Britain. We need corporate members.
From the 1st of February 2017 our annual membership fees will increase to £30 for one person and £35 for a couple, £10 for a student.
Sadly, I will have to step down as Chairman in 2017 for personal and professional reasons. My book, Churchill’s Legacy, about which I spoke at the Lycee International at Wembley in November has taken much of my time this year and a further book will do the same over the next two years.
I am honoured to have served as your chairman and I will continue to support the Society as it faces up to the challenges ahead.
Anglo-French partnership is more vital than ever. It is the commitment of brain and heart that is needed.
With all best wishes for the new year,
Lord Watson of Richmond CBE FRTS
Elles vous attendent l'année prochaine pour de nouveaux événements:
23 January 2017: Talk by Professeur David Looseley; Edith Piaf - a cultural History at the French Institute
20 February 2017: Talk by Baroness Quin and Senateur Olivier Cadic - The House of Lords and The Sénat
2017: Talk about Sartre with the Anglo-Belgian Society
April: next AGM in a prestigious venue
June 2017: Talk by Tatiana de Rosnay
Concert and more on www.franco-British-Society.org
Mid-May or September : Suggested trip to France – Beaulieu.
May or July: suggested day trip to Highgrove.
If you are interested in the day trip or the trip to France, do let us know.
EVENTS IN 2016
EVENTS IN 2016
Tuesday 12 January
At The Redfern Gallery founded in 1923 in the heart of London’s Mayfair, Pierre Skira who is one of the most distinguished living exponents of the medium of pastel with his own unique forms and colours. He was born in Paris, the son of the renowned Swiss publisher Albert Skira who worked with many of the leading European artists of the 20th Century including Matisse, Dalí and Picasso. Pierre Skira gave a talk In French to a mixed group of people including the French lycée (Students and Art teachers), a French Association, FBS Members. The talk was followed by a Private View of his exhibition with the clients of gallery.
Professor David Looseley with his book Edith Piaf : A cultural history and Professor Edward J. Hughes with Critical lives - Albert Camus received their prize from Madame L'Ambassadeur. They were introduced by Dr Cynthia Gamble, one of our Book Prize judge.
Despite the rain, 50 Members of the FBS came to the Mall for a wonderful Picnic to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen.
TRIP TO PARIS (29SEPT-3OCT) Frances Lambourne, FBS members, wrote:
Somehow my home looked a little dull on my return. We had spent the weekend in the most superb chateaux and hotels particuliers. Large rooms packed with masterpieces, porcelaine, spectacular tapestries, carpets, large ornate chandeliers, gilded mirrors, intricately designed clocks, libraries packed with large leather bound books were beginning to feel like my natural habitat.
We got delayed for 40 minutes approaching Calais on Eurostar due to someone on the line. Sobering to think of their desperate situation – so very different from ours as we set off on our trip to Paris. We stayed in a hotel in Rue Joubert, a stone’s throw from l’Opera, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, just off the Boulevard Haussmann.
We dined our first evening with some members of the Association France– Grande Bretagne Paris at the Brasserie Mollard, an easy walk from the hotel. Beautiful interiors decorated with frescoes and mosaics from the 19th century. We sat amongst our counterparts and everyone had a good evening with nothing lost in translation. It made me think how specially important the Franco British Society is at this time.
Friday morning our first visit was to the Ile de la Cité to Sainte Chapelle located in the grounds of the Palais de Justice. It was built to house holy relics but they unfortunately disappeared in the French revolution and the chapel was damaged. I was amazed on arriving in the lower chapel – the light shining through the stained glass windows took my breath away,
We went on to visit the Conciergerie next door which was the home of the Kings until Charles V decided to move to the Louvre. It is a wonderfully imposing sight seen from the opposite river bank. The enormous medieval halls housed around 2000 people in the service of the royal family and there were huge fire places where the cooking was done. Later it became the law courts and prison cells. During the revolution the revolutionary Court was held there and it was the principal prison. We saw the tiny cells where as a prisoner your lifestyle depended on how much money you had. Marie Antoinette was imprisoned there and we saw a reconstruction of her shrouded figure writing her final letter in her cell.
Roads were closed off as a security precaution as we left the Conciergerie – Paris being on high alert. Fortunately it was a false alarm, coinciding with our lunch break. All the young police were armed and some were on roller skates.
The library has a huge collection of manuscripts and leather bound books.
Then a quick visit to the stables. Built by the Duc de Condé who died in 1791. He believed he would come back as a horse so the stables are very grand. To my great delight there were horses living there. All different breeds and sizes including a tiny little dappled Palomino stallion. I think this is owned by the Aga Khan who has a house nearby. Behind the stables is the Museum of the Horse. Time was running out so a quick look round the Conde Musueum for more wonderful paintings collected by the Duc d’Aumale.
Then driving back through Paris we saw Syrian families with placards beside the road. As the sun was going down and we sat in a Paris traffic jam I gazed out of the window at the depressing scenes of life in the grey banlieue seemingly to stretch for miles. A sad contrast to the splendour of our day.
Other members visited the interesting and atmospheric Hotel de Camonde, a beautiful preserved mansion overlooking the Parc Monceau; owned by a prominent Jewish family, it was rebuilt in the early 1900s.
The Chargée d' Affaires Susan Le Jeune- In charge between Ambassadors - gave us a topical briefing on the Embassy's priorities, which were wide ranging although obviously Brexit was the major theme. On Calais-related issues, she was complimentary about the French authorities' willingness to enter into a dialogue.
It was then onto the Gare du Nord for our journey back to St Pancras. All went according to plan with no delays at Calais. It was a tremendous action packed weekend and enormous thanks to Isabelle and Brenda for all their hard work in making it so. Frances Lambourne (FBS member) photos © Isabelle Gault
Critical lives - Albert Camus; A talk by Edward J. Hughes, joint FBS book prize winner 2015 who is Professor of French at Queen Mary, University of London.
We were very grateful to Pasteur Stéphane Desmarais, his wife Cindy and Thibault Lavergne (President of their Consistory) for inviting us to their beautiful French Protestant Church in Soho Square in London. A great evening.
We all agree that the evening at the House of Commons was remarquably organised by Isabelle and also Brenda, and that it was a complete success owed to the prestige of the venue, thanks to Dominic Grieve. Owed to the quality of its speakers : our Président the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve KCMG OBE - and now Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE and Mr Éric Chaney, Chief Economist AXA Group, and to the presence of HE Madame l' Ambassadeur de France Sylvie Bermann.
It was very well attended.
After the complexities of the necessary police control and having walked up and down the various routes of the House, we soon realised that "cela valait le détour !".
As a personal note I shall add that we were so well looked after by the house-steward of the House staff who, at the end of the party took us through secret passages directly to a taxi. Luce Geas (FBS member)
Ceremony to award the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur
to The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, our President.
With Madame L'Ambassadeur, Sylvie Bermann, at the Résidence de France.
The Franco-British Society (FBS) and the Association des parents d'élèves du Lycée Winston Churchill (APLIL) organised a talk in English by Lord Watson of Richmond CBE and Mr Randolph Churchill.
Many thanks to Lord Watson and Randolph Churchill for the great evening. It was well attended by parents, pupils (14-17 years old) and members of the Franco-British Society. Many thanks to Mireille Rabaté, the Proviseur for inviting us to the Lycée. Amélie Mallet, the President of the APLIL- parents association, Mrs Martine André, Mrs Sofi Liot, parents of the Parent's Association, Brenda Davies, Frances Lambourne and Edward Gault from the FBS contributed also to the success of the evening.