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Thu 11 - Tue 30 Jun

Free France Virtual Exhibition

80th Anniversary of the Appeal of 18 June

As we commemorate this year the 80th anniversary of the Appeal of 18 June by Charles de Gaulle, we have dived into the Institut français du Royaume-Uni’s unique archives collections dedicated to that period and picked out some treasures emblematic of the key days of our two countries’ history.

Let’s discover how, “for a brief moment, the Institut français in London was at the centre of the world’s historical stage, owing to its involvement in the early days of Charles de Gaulle’ Free French Movement”.

The quote above and the historical descriptions below are borrowed from historian Charlotte Faucher’s work, especially her Phd thesis, The French intellectual consulate to Great Britain? The Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, 1910-1959 and the article From Gaullism to Anti-Gaullism: Denis Saurat and the French Cultural Institute in Wartime London (in Journal of Contemporary History, 54(1), 60–81.

Picture above: selection of documents from the Denis Saurat and the Forces Françaises Libres archives collections of the Institut français du Royaume-Uni

The Institut français du Royaume-Uni in 1940: “the First Bastion of the Résistance”

The Institut français du Royaume-Uni and Lycée new buildings were inaugurated on 21 March 1939 in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun and Princess Mary.

A few months later, on 3 September 1939, as the UK and France declared war on Germany, the Institut launched a series of lectures about the war. In June 1940, after de Gaulle Appeal, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni became, in the words of Free French André Weil-Curiel, “The first bastion of the Résistance” and a platform to promote La France Libre, over the course of war.











The Free France virtual exhibition has been curated by Marion Loire and Natacha Antolini, Institut français du Royaume-Uni


Special thanks to Charlotte Faucher whose academic research and Phd thesis, The French intellectual consulate to Great Britain? The Institut français du Royaume-Uni, 1910-1959, help us to know better the history of the Institut. For her thesis, a collaborative doctoral award between Queen Mary, University of London and the Institut français, she thoroughly dug into and explored Saurat’s archival material.