Alongside London, Paris is one of the most multi-cultural cities in Europe. Unlike London, it is not often viewed as such by the outside world which prefers to focus on the food, the wine and the language of love. As the Paris postcard circles the globe the French city on the ground is a cultural and linguistic mosaic. Testament to this are the scattered regional cultural centres representing countries across the globe. The centres promote an artistic and cultural exchange between their respective countries and France. They also often collaborate between each other on events such as the ‘Jazzycolors’, a jazz festival featuring a global array of musicians and are represented as a group by the umbrella organisation Ficep. For those who have got their French down and want to add another tongue to the mix the majority of these centres provide language programs. Equally, if you’re far from home the chance to read a newspaper or browse a library in your own language provides quick relief to a bout of homesickness.
Other things to get involved in include joining the women’s chamber choir at the Irish Cultural Centre and taking courses in Ikebana flower arranging at the Maison de la Culture du Japon, in calligraphy at Centre Culturel Coreen or in Persian music at the Le Centre Culturel d’Iran. To soak up the atmosphere stop for coffee and a Swedish pastry in the courtyard of Centre Culturel Suedois 16th century building or spend the evening in the basement Paris-Prague jazz club at Centre Tcheque. There is a new cafe-bookshop opening at Centre Culturel Suisse in the new year but for now you can still pass the time in the Marais library browsing their programme in the attractively-designed publication Le Phare.
Most of the centres have cinemas and exhibition, performance and conference spaces. Centre Culturel Wallonie Bruxelles which regularly host poetry and literature readings, the Goethe Institute and Centre Cuturel Canadien, in addition to those mentioned in this article are worth exploring for their interesting arts programs.