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Centre for Franco-British Relations in Ouistreham Riva-Bella, Normandy

The first meeting of the 'academic experts' who've been helping develop Ouistreham Riva-Bella's CENTRE DES RELATIONS FRANCO-BRITTANIQUES is taking place this week.

The idea for a Centre for Franco-British Relations in Normandy was conceived and set in motion by Ouistreham Riva-Bella's dynamic and ambitious mayor M Romain Bail, who received very early encouragement from The Prince of Wales no less. It's also worth pointing out that this was well before the UK referendum which resulted in the vote for Brexit. The Charity's Trustees, supporters, veteran friends and partners - and notably its co-founder Martyn Cox - have been supporting the project for two years.

The residents of Ouistreham remain proud that theirs was the first town to be liberated on D-Day and even more so that its liberators were Free French commandos who'd landed on Sword Beach alongside their British comrades; and so it's no wonder that the Mayor is aiming for the Centre to open during 2019, the 75th anniversary year of D-Day. It will be built very close to the beach within a few hundred metres of the Ouistreham cross-channel ferry terminal, which caters for the one million Brittany Ferries passengers per year who travel from and to Portsmouth.

Following a competitive selection process, the architect and interior designers to be responsible for the Centre's creation have recently been announced - cabinet d’architecture Philéas of Paris and Casson Mann of London; and the project's summer newsletter announced that -

To ensure the development of a truly Franco-British project, it quickly became obvious that the involvement of experts from both sides of the Channel was going to be essential in the elaboration of the themes to be developed in the future Centre. The Centre’s contents will thus be developed around three main themes - History, Geography, Culture – which will be split into sub themes and bi-na onal work groups composed of academics and other professionals will be in- vited to work together over the coming months. The experts will study, exchange and discuss the variety of topics to be illustrated and the « texts » which will provide the basis upon which the scenographers will then work to actually create the Centre itself. The work groups may also lead to the crea on of a catalogue of poten al themes for future exhibitions and ideas as to how they may be presented.

This week's meeting of 'academic experts' will be the opportunity for as many as possible of the specialists who've provided their input so far to finally gather together under one roof to "... contribute to the elaboration of the architecture and design of the project ... together look into the subjects to be developed, the objects to be exhibited, the iconography chosen."

The Charity's co-founder Martyn Cox has been involved with the project since November 2015 courtesy of Stéphane Simonnet, the leading local historian who's been advising the Mayor, and Martyn was subsequently invited to become a member of that Academic Committee.

We'll be publishing updates when they're available, and in the meantime please click here for updates from the Ouistreham Riva-Bella mairie:

... and HERE for access to a Dropbox folder containing the Centre's very latest Newsletters in English and French.

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