Bonne année 2015!
London, 2 January 2015
I’m delighted to wish our British friends and the French community in the UK a very Happy New Year. I hope the festive period was merry and restful. This Christmas was my first ever spent in the UK, and I very much enjoyed the festivities here in London. Since early December the city has been looking splendid, decked in its Christmas finery.
But with the festivities now drawing to an end, it’s time to look ahead to 2015.
Like 2014, this year will be another year of commemorations, with World War I centenary events continuing to take place in both France and the UK. On 24-25 April we will be marking the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli and Anzac campaigns, one of the major missions of the First World War which saw the death of thousands of British and French soldiers, as well as many Australians, other Commonwealth and Turkish servicemen.
Of course this year will also see further commemorations, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and we will be decorating British veterans who risked their lives by taking part in D-Day.
In June we’ll be also marking the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, which is not only a chance to remember one of the most significant events in European history but also an opportunity to celebrate 200 years of peace between France and Britain.
One of the first events we’re looking forward to is Good France, a worldwide celebration of French gastronomy that takes place on 19 March. The project is backed by chef Alain Ducasse, whose restaurant here in London, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, will be one of over 1,000 restaurants across five continents serving a menu that day to showcase French culinary excellence. It’s a gastronomic date for the diary not to be missed!
After an outstanding year for sport in 2014 – with Brazil hosting a truly thrilling World Cup and millions of cycling fans flocking to Yorkshire for the ‘grandest’ ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France –, this year we are looking forward to the French national rugby team coming to England and Wales in September for the Rugby World Cup. Who knows, we may even get to see a semifinal encounter with England!
September will also see the opening of the new Lycée International de Londres in Wembley, north-west London. Occupying the site of the former Brent Town Hall, a stunning Grade II listed building, and offering brand new state-of-the-art teaching facilities for up to 1,000 pupils, this is a very exciting new arrival for the French community here in London.
Finally, I’d like to look ahead to the end of the year, to what is currently the French government’s highest diplomatic priority: the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris, which will determine the future of global action against climate change. To contribute to the growing momentum towards a deal in December 2015, my embassy is organizing its own series of conferences on climate change which will take place throughout the year. The first conference last November was a fascinating discussion involving some top French and British names in the field of climate change. We look forward to more interesting and fruitful discussions to come.
Once again, I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2015. I hope the year ahead will be one of progress and prosperity for all. I’m confident that it will be, among other things thanks to new EU policies such as the Investment plan agreed by the European Council two weeks ago.
I look forward to collaborating with friends and colleagues here in the UK over the next 12 months.
Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to the UK