We are part of the Institut français worldwide network promoting French language and culture and encouraging cross-cultural exchange and cultural diversity.
Founded in 1910, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni comprises a language centre, a cinema (Ciné Lumière and Ciné Lumière II), a multi-media library (La Médiathèque), a children’s library (Bibliothèque Quentin Blake) and a café-restaurant, Café Tangerine, and welcomes 200,000 people each year.
At the heart of the Institut français’ mission is the teaching of the French language. The Language Centre, which attracts 7000 students every year, offers traditional language courses as well as online French courses, business French and courses on various aspects of French culture and current affairs. The Institut also collaborates with schools in the UK on educational cooperation programmes to promote French language learning and organise teacher training, so that French can remain the UK’s top choice for foreign language study.
Ciné Lumière has established itself as one of London’s best independent cinemas.. With a particular emphasis on French, European and World cinema, its programme combines new releases, repertory screenings, previews and exclusive on-stage events attended by directors and actors. Building upon the success of Ciné Lumière, the Institut français opened a second screen in 2019, Ciné Lumière II, to further expand its programme.
The multimedia library, La Médiathèque, a distinctive Grade II listed venue, is also a window on contemporary France and holds the largest free-access collection of French material in the UK, covering all aspects of French culture and society. Visitors can access about 50,000 items ranging from novels, comic books to feature films and magazines. Its digital platform, Culturethèque allows audiences across the UK to access an extensive digital library with over 25 000 documents, completely free of charge.
The Art Deco listed reading room was restored and in 2015 the revamped Children’s Library reopened its doors under the name Bibliothèque Quentin Blake.
Audiences at the Institut can keep up to date with the latest French thinking and the most recent publications in French and English translation thanks to its extensive programme of talks, panel discussions and book launches. Visitors can also take part in debates with speakers from both sides of the Channel meeting regularly to discuss a wide variety of topics or at the annual Night of Ideas.
The Institut français presents each year a broad range of festivals, either organised by the Institut itself (Beyond Words, South Ken Kids Festival) or by external curators and organisations (French Film Festival, London Film Festival, Spanish Film Festival, Italian Film Festival, etc.)
Dedicated to helping children learn and discover new aspects of culture, the Institut offers year-round activities and resources for kids, families and schools, in addition to its annual festival dedicated to children’s literature, the South Ken Kids Festival.
The Institut presents and supports external events, in collaboration with British partners, particularly in the visual and performing arts and promotes Franco-British academic cooperation. In 2010, the Institut français created two Franco-British funds: Fluxus for contemporary art, and Diaphonique for contemporary classical music. In 2013, it launched En Scène, a series of theatrical performances in French with English surtitles, and Cross-Channel Theatre, a platform aiming at promoting French playwrights in the UK.
The Institut français du Royaume-Uni is a member of EUNIC London, the network of the cultural institutes from the member states of the European Union in London, and of Discover South Kensington, the network of the leading cultural and educational organisations in South Kensington – home of science, arts and inspiration.