Seven Foreign Cultural Centers to Visit in Paris

Exploring Cosmopolitan Paris

November 21, 2018By Emma HussainLiving in Paris, What's New Living in Paris
The Swedish Cultural Center’s historic building in the Marais.
The Swedish Cultural Center’s historic building in the Marais. © Julien Bourgeois

One of Paris’s greatest attractions is its vibrant international community. Touched by cultures, languages and cuisines from across the globe, the city is home to 55 foreign cultural institutes, more than any capital city in the world. These centers are key spaces for cultural exchange and the sharing of artistic expression across borders. We’ve collected seven of the most interesting.

The giftshop of the Swiss Cultural Centre.
The shop at the Swiss Cultural Center offers unique gift ideas. © Tristan Savoy 2017

Centre Culturel Suisse

The Swiss Cultural Center, in the heart of the Marais, is part of Pro Helvetia, Switzerland’s cultural foundation. With two galleries and a performance space, it hosts various exhibitions and events. Unusual and often beautiful objects can be found in its gift shop.

Now showing: Les Plus Beaux Livres Suisses 2017. Spotlight on Swiss book design.

Open-air cinema at the Swedish Institute.
Film night at the Swedish Institute. © Vinciane Verguethen

Institut Suédois

Also in the Marais, the Swedish Institute, housed in a historic 16th-century mansion, is the only center of its kind outside Sweden. Its permanent art collection charts the history of Franco-Swedish relations, while the rest of the program has a more contemporary focus. The peaceful garden, where films are shown outdoors in the summer, is a great place to escape the busy Paris streets, and the café in the courtyard specializes in delicious Swedish cakes.

Now showing: Ingmar Bergman: La Suite. A program of events honoring filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, who would have been 100 this year.

The impressive exterior of the Maison de la Culture du Japon.
The impressive exterior of the Maison de la Culture du Japon. © Heng Chlao 2016

Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris

Films, exhibitions and conferences showcase Japanese culture at one of the most popular cultural centers in Paris. The rich calendar features almost daily events covering everything from tea ceremonies to manga exhibitions.

Now showing: L’Art du Collotype. An exhibition showcasing postwar Japanese collotype photography.

The Maison de l’Amérique Latine.
The Maison de l’Amérique Latine.

Maison de l’Amérique Latine

This beautiful cultural center, tucked away in Paris’s seventh arrondissement, serves both artistic and diplomatic purposes, as it was founded after World War II with the assistance of the French Foreign Affairs department. Latin American art, literature, and music are featured in rooms overlooking a spacious park. The restaurant offers French and Latin American cuisines and is especially popular in summer, when meals are served in the garden.

Now showing: La Esposa Esposada. A photography and sculpture installation by Mexican artist Carmen Mariscal.

The Irish Cultural Center’s library.
The Irish Cultural Center’s Old Library (guided tours by appointment) is a must-visit.

Centre Culturel Irlandais

Located in a quiet corner of the Latin Quarter, this cultural center presents another side of Irish culture not found in the various pubs around Paris. The 18th-century building showcases work by contemporary Irish artists, filmmakers and performers, some of whom are in residence at the center, and houses a beautiful chapel and an impressive “médiathèque” with many resources on the history of Franco-Irish relations.

Now showing: Surveillé·e·s. Fifteen Irish artists respond to the theme of surveillance.

Inside the Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris.
Inside the Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris. © Luca Lomazzi

Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris

This Paris branch of a Belgian national organization, located across from the Centre Pompidou, aims to promote French-speaking Belgian artists in France through a lively program of often avant-garde theater, exhibitions, cinema, dance, concerts and readings.

Now showing: Portraits d’Artistes. Four Belgian filmmakers present autobiographical works for documentary film month.

Memorabilia included in the Serbian Cultural Center’s current exhibition, which examines Franco-Serbian relations during World War I.
The Serbian Cultural Center’s current exhibition examines Franco-Serbian relations during World War I.

Centre Culturel de Serbie

The Serbian Cultural Center aims to strengthen the friendship between France and Serbia through artistic exchange, focusing on both emerging talents and better-known artists. It profiles and promotes Serbian artists working in France and houses a library with an impressive collection of Serbian books and documents.

Now showing: Images, Témoignages, Récits. An exhibition of historical memorabilia highlighting the comradeship of French and Serbian soldiers in the First World War.

Check out FICEP, the overarching organisation responsible for international cultural institutes in Paris, which holds regular events for cultural exchange in the city.

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