What is Les Voisins?
Les Voisins (The Neighbours) is a celebration of the ties that bind Britain and France. It is fundamentally about people. The stats are impressive: 14 million Brits visit France each year; 18,000 French students study in the UK; 60,000 passengers use the Channel Tunnel each day; 400,000 British and French people have chosen to live on the other side of the Channel.
But it is the human stories – the French exchange student who met her husband in the university bar; the chef who moved to Paris to show that the British could cook; the Yorkshire groundsman tending the grass at the Stade de France – that truly illustrate the powerful friendship between our countries.
You can find a first set of these portraits at lesvoisins.shorthand.com, as well as instructions on how to submit your story and become a Voisin yourself.
When will it run?
The campaign will be launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 17 March 2017 at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Paris, and run throughout the year.
What else is involved?
Being neighbours is different from simply being friends. Neighbours share so much experience, so much of the minutiae of life. So we will celebrate the extraordinary depth and breadth of FrancoBritish relations – their long history and bright future. Elements of the Voisins programme include:
Young Leaders: This year marks the inauguration of a new Franco-British Young Leaders Programme uniting a diverse and talented group of French and British to learn about each other’s countries – and each other. The first cohort will be announced in March – the chosen Leaders will visit the UK for a week later in the year before gathering in France in 2018.
Regional Voisins: We will celebrate the links between our regions, including the 70th anniversary of the Bordeaux and Bristol twinning relationship, the oldest between UK and French towns. We will also be launching renewed cooperation between Paris and London starting with the Mayor of London’s visit of 28-29 March.
Culture: Our cultures have been intertwined for centuries. English remains the most taught foreign language in French schools, and French the most taught in British. So we’ll celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and her books, beloved on both sides of the channel, as well as showcasing and celebrating British music and film of all genres throughout the year.
Facing the future together: In these uncertain times, Britain and France remain the closest of allies. So we’re holding events to look at how we work together in tomorrow’s world and gathering together those responsible for keeping us safe today.