Location: West Parliament Square, EH1 1RF
The Institut Français, promoting French culture and language in Edinburgh (and Scotland in general), stands in an imposing Royal Mile building signifying the close ties between our two nations.
There was an ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France from 1295-1695 through mutual military, cultural and economic co-operation. Scottish mercenary troops often helped the French army against the English during the Hundred Years’ War.
The Auld Alliance’s impact on Scotland is very clear in Scotland’s separate, decidedly European, legal system. Scotland’s preparation of food owes a great deal to French cuisine as well as the import of French academia and philosophy. French ideas during The Enlightenment influenced key Scottish figures like David Hume and Adam Smith – Edinburgh’s philosophy took a very French approach!
Scotland has always had a fond view of France, particularly evident during the Jacobite Rebellions in 1715 and 1745 in Scotland.
The Institut Français hosts French language classes and cultural events, provides a 20,000 books and multi-media library, and runs a restaurant “Le Bistrot.” Its position in the very heart of Edinburgh’s governmental, judicial, and religious centres is testament to the closeness of the two nations. Find out more at this link and have a virtual tour of the building here.
Exit the Institut Français on to the High Street (also called the Lawnmarket here). Walk down the hill and for about 200 metres and right again at the small Old Fishmarket Close. Walk down the Fishmarket Close for about 150 metres until you come to the Cowgate. Turn right and walk another 150 metres. A plaque for James Connolly’s birthplace is on your left under the George IV Bridge.
Picture Credits: Stuart Baillie Strong/Edinburgh4Europe 2021