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Immerse Yourself in French Culture at Home

Courtesy of Vive Arts

During this time of confinement at home due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our seasoned staff of culture professionals has been scouring the Internet to prepare a curated list of some of their top choices for experiencing French and Francophone culture virtually.

From museum tours to opera and ebooks, there's something for culture fans of all stripes in our list below, which includes both individual experiences and aggregate best-of lists. Note that it is non-exhaustive and evolving, so check back in a couple of days for new content. 

Choose your own (at-home) adventure below! 

If you like to dress up and drink champagne…

Photo by Pawel Bukowski

Philharmonie Live
From Haydn to Debussy or Boulez, the Paris Orchestra to the Arts Florissants ensemble and the wonderful concerts recorded during the Jazz à la Villette festival, there are a lot of options to choose from… More than 900 indeed!

France Musique Concerts
The French radio station France Musique has hundreds of classical, symphonic, chamber music, & jazz concerts to please all of the music lovers out there!

If you want to dance in your PJs… 

What the France
Listen to the most exciting new music of the French music scene thanks to What the France, a series of playlists created by Le Bureau Export. 

Numeridanse is a multimedia dance platform. It offers free access to a unique video database of filmed performances, documentaries, interviews, dance videos, and more. Each genre and style is showcased here: butoh, classical ballet, neo-classical ballet, baroque, Indian, African, flamenco, contemporary, traditional dances, hip-hop, tango, jazz, circus arts, performance, etc.

The Centre national des arts du cirque (CNAC) is a higher education and research establishment created in 1985 at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture. Nearly 400 artists from 35 different countries have graduated from Cnac and are now major players on the international contemporary circus scene. Cnac.tv offers archived videos of performances by contemporary circus artists that span several years.  


If you need to time travel somewhere calm… 

Photo by Kari Shea

Arte Concert
Tune on Arte concert website and enjoy hundreds of concerts recorded live. 
(For copyrights reasons, note that a few of the videos might not be accessible from the US.)

Visit the Lascaux Cave
Back in time –  to put things in perspective: an exclusive virtual visit of the Lascaux prehistoric cave.

Stop by the Paris Opera
Launched by the Paris Opéra in September 2015, 3e Scène proposes a collection of original video works (documentary, fiction, etc.) by artists from different backgrounds, including Jonathan Litell, Clemence Poesy, Thierry Thieu Niang, Danielle Arbid, Clément Cogitore, and Ramzi Ben Sliman. The short films related to the Paris Opera offer an active dialogue with a viewership from around the world. 

Travel with the Ile en île Youtube Channel
Escape your narrow dwelling by exploring the multimedia readings, poetry, performance and interviews of Ile en île. The website and youtube channel was launched in 1998 to promote French langage authors from islands across the world––the Caribean, Mediterranean, Pacific and beyond.


If you are feeling nostalgic for smoky clubs and bourbon drinks...

Photo by Zachary Nelson

Tune in to TSF Jazz
Celebrating its 20-year anniversary, the French radio station TSF Jazz has a wonderful program of live performances, live programs, and podcasts to choose from. 

If you can’t contain your love of drama... 

Photo by Vladimir Ivanov

Enjoy the performing arts from the Festival d’Avignon
Since 2016, France Culture has been coming to the courtyard of the Musée Calvet for 10 days to present a program that defends the idea of a living culture that is shared by all generations. It is a celebration of the spirit for viewers and listeners that supports the idea that literature, theater, and musicals can change our lives or profoundly inspire them.  


If you spend more time at The Met than in your apartment… 

Photo by Robert Bye

Best Online Museum Collections
Over the past decades, for conservation and insurance purpose, major museums have created online databases of their collections. Thanks to the progress of the digital age, most museums are providing a free access online to their whole collection. What was once only available to curators and art historians is now readily available. Take opportunity to dig into these unknown treasures and create your own favorite selection:

Contemporary Art Collections on Videomuseum
67 collections – 36,713 artists – 397,279 artworks – 388,141 pictures: this is how many many public collections and artists are available online (including those of the Centre Pompidou, Musee Picasso, CNAP and a design platform...). Videomuseum is a French consortium of museums and other public structures managing modern and contemporary art collections.
National Heritage Ancient Collections
The POP platform created by the French Ministry of Culture is gathering all digital content related to French national heritage and ancient collections in one place in order to make it accessible to a large audience. 

For example, the image of the Mona Lisa used at the top of this article is part of one of these culturally benefical opportunities that you can experience at home. The Louvre presents the museum’s first virtual reality experience “En tête-à-tête avec La Joconde," in partnership with HTC VIVE Arts and Emissive, which will bring to life the story of the Mona Lisa, da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. Just download the free app –– no need for VR equipment –– and see this iconic piece of art like you never have before!

Available on: Viveport

To take a closer look at Google's virtual experiences of the Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, and the Grand Palais, too!


If virtual reality sounds better than reality...

Photo by Paul Stollery

Visit the Château de Versailles
You can wake up at Versailles with this creative VR experience. This virtual visit will bring you to unexpected rooms and angles of the castle.

VR Documentaries by Targo
From Rebuilding Notre Dame, to Experience the Overview Effect with an Astronaut, to In the Air with the Skydiving World Champion... If you own a VR headset, you can watch original documentaries by Targo and for free on VR streaming platforms.

The Dawn of Art: A Virtual Journey Inside Chauvet Cave
Atlas V in partnership with Novelab, Google, and SMERGC have released a new VR experience called The Dawn of Art voiced by Daisy Ridley from the new Star Wars Saga. 

Phallaina, a Graphic Novel App
Download for free, the first scrolling graphic novel, Phallaina.  Follow the story of Audrey, a young girl who suffers from hallucinatory fits during which she sees whales. 

Games by ARTE
Besides being the European cultural TV channel, ARTE has co-produced and published several interactive experiences and video games including Type:Rider, Homo Machina, The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature and Vectronom. Play for free a prequel to Alt Frequencies


 If you’re a film buff… 

Photo by Annie Spratt

The Best French Comedy Series to Binge on Netflix
Nothing is better than a good TV show to help us cheer up and escape our current reality. Several of the best French comedy shows of the past few years are available on Netflix. From a Cold War spy parody to a talent agency comedy, there is something to suit all tastes.

Germaine Dulac and Women in Film History
Hear an extended conversation with Germaine Dulac scholar and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Tami Williams, Columbia University professor Jane Gaines, and Rutgers University professor Sandy Flitterman-Lewis as they discuss Dulac’s pioneering artistry, her films’ political context, and her pivotal place in the history of cinema.

Up and Coming Filmmakers 
During a Directors Dialogue, Mati Diop discusses Atlantics, a Main Slate selection at the 57th New York Film Festival, presented by Film at Lincoln Center. Moderated by Dennis Lim.

300 documentaries available online
IDFA, the world’s largest documentary film gathering, decided to make over 300 films from its prestigious collection available online, for free. Among them, many French productions: Human by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, A French laundry by Elisabeth Vogler, Guaxuma by Nara Normande, etc.


If you’re a bookworm who has all day to read (or listen)… 

Photo by Jaredd Craig

145-Hour Marathon Audiobook of Proust's In Search of Lost Time

If you’re looking for a companion while reading, or for someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, check out the many audiobook options here and here (including Proust's famous series). 

Classic E-Books
Gallica, the free online library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France holds more that 5 millions documents and is full of treasures, including digital versions of many classics. Here is a list of 150 classics that you can download on your computer, from Molière to to Victor Hugo to Alexandre Dumas and Balzac.

Readings by Much-Loved Actor Guillaume Gallienne
Actor Guillaume Gallienne announced in February that he would end his beloved radio show of readings, to the dismay of the huge following he had accrued over a decade. “Ca peut pas faire de mal” episodes are available at the link above! 


If you're one of our fans... 

And if you're curious to explore our own programs at the Cultural Services, check out this article, on how to experience French culture from home, where you can listen to The Thing About France podcast with David Sedaris and Gloria Steinemgo behind the scenes with top-tier French authors at Albertine, and more.