Grand and vibrant introduction to Vietnamese Culture in Nantes (France)

June 21, 2024 - 11:39
The enchanting city of Nantes in the Loire-Atlantique province in Franch has been hosting a Vietnam Week, a series of exceptional events, designed to promote Vietnamese culture in France. This celebration is part of the international cultural and community exchange project TOUCHER ARTS, organised annually in June by the ART SPACE association.

NANTES, France --The enchanting city of Nantes, in the Loire-Atlantique province in France, has been hosting a Vietnam Week, a series of exceptional events designed to promote Vietnamese culture. The celebration was part of the international cultural and community exchange project Toucher Arts, organised annually by the Art Space association.

Activities included the launch of a new documentary on Vietnamese culture at the Lutétia cinema, teaching school children about art and discovery in Việt Nam, a special photo exhibition 'Heritage of Vietnam', bilingual Vietnamese-French fairy tales, calligraphy and creating Đông Hồ paintings at the Parc des Chantiers. There was even a unicorn dance.

More than 2,000 parents and students from the Loquidy school (Nantes, France) went on an enthusiastic voyage of discovery of Vietnamese culture. Photos courtesy of the organisers

This year's 'Vietnam Week in Nantes' (June 14-19) was a collaborative effort between Art Space and the Tissé Métisse Association, featuring the participation of 33 Vietnamese students from Canada, England, Australia, France, Japan and Việt Nam.

A unique hour long documentary, 'Trà, Áo Dài and Vietnam', was screened at the French Lutétia cinema, exploring the two Vietnamese cultural emblems (tea and Áo dài) and national identity, shown to Vietnamese diaspora, along with foreigners who love Việt Nam.

The documentary interweaves the heartfelt accounts of Tjin, a nine year old mixed-race boy, French photographer Scott Mathieu's observations of Vietnam's tea culture and the poignant testimony of a woman from Huế on the importance of Áo dài.

Also interviewed a designer of Áo dai from Huế, Ella Phan, who presented Vietnamese national costume on many international fashion catwalks and the 100-year-old lady Dần, who is famed for her Bà Dần Lotus Tea in Quảng Bá, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội and is known to offer customers what has been called the Supreme Tea of ​​All Time.

Many French people came to see the documentary.

The documentary is simple but profound, with characters who freely express their feelings and their vision of tea and áo dài as essential components of the spiritual culture and daily life of the Vietnamese.

Madame Cécile Lancien, director of Carré International, Saint-Herblain, said: “I experienced memorable moments with the film produced by the Toucher Arts project. I don't have much knowledge about Vietnamese culture and I haven't had the opportunity to travel here, but I have had many exchanges with the Art Space organization to better understand Vietnamese culture.

"This evening, thanks to this film, I had the opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese tea culture, the habit of sharing while tasting tea, as well as the tradition of áo dài. The way the story is told in the film is very touching, the characters interviewed are extremely open. I had a great time watching this movie.”

Aziz Abdouss expressed his admiration for the film: “What a memorable documentary. The film was perfect, from the beginning to the end that made us feel like we were in Việt Nam. Just before the film, we had the chance to enjoy Vietnamese tea, prepared in an extremely thoughtful manner. Each character, each interview made me extremely moved. Thanks to everyone who made this film. I’m not disappointed at all to have come!”

Cultural Activities for the French Public

During the week, French people in the city of Nantes had the opportunity to participate in numerous activities to learn and discover Vietnamese culture in a diverse and colourful way, including a bilingual Vietnamese-French storytelling session at the Tissé Métisse library in downtown Nantes.

French friends were passionate about learning Vietnamese culture at the event.

Driven by the desire to share the beauty of the Vietnamese language and traditions with an international audience, the members of the Toucher Arts project made a wise choice: 'The Legend of Vietnamese Sticky Rice Cakes'. This familiar Tết story, revisited in the form of a puppet theatre, captivated hundreds of spectators.

Toucher Arts offered fun and interactive activities that delighted French children and their families who were also able to test their knowledge of Vietnamese culture by answering fun questions and receiving gifts as rewards.

Everyone involved at all stages of the Toucher Arts project were accomplished young Vietnamese from around the world, with members spending three months preparing it before coming to France.

Fifteen-year-old Quidiza said: “I just watched a presentation on traditional Vietnamese culture. I felt very impressed and learned a lot of interesting things here, from food to traditional costumes and festivals. I really love Vietnamese culture!”

Head of the Tissé Métisse Documentary Fund at Tissé Métisse, Hélène Grandhomme said: “Today, we are very happy to cooperate with Art Space intercultural association for Vietnam Day at Tissé Métisse, to carry out puppet shows, cultural workshops on the Vietnamese New Year celebration, calligraphy and Đông Hồ painting. The programme has attracted the participation of many Nantes families. It was a memorable and exciting experience."

A stand offering examples of Vietnamese culture was always popular.

Vietnamese Students Sharing Culture with French Students

During Vietnam Week, French schools invited the Toucher Arts project to share and discuss Vietnamese culture, helping French students gain a deeper understanding of the country and its culture. Members conducted a cultural teaching session for fourth-grade students at Sainte Madeleine de la Joliverie Primary School, played Vietnamese music and organised cultural promotion activities for over 2,000 parents and students at Loquidy High School.

Thirteen-year-old Agnès said: “I find Vietnamese culture very attractive and the Vietnamese language is also very interesting. I learned a lot of good things from the questions in the game I participated in.”

Coutance, a student of Class 7F at Loquidy School, said: “For me, the Vietnam stand at today's end of year event is very wonderful. All the dances and costumes you wear are so beautiful and colourful.”

Hoàng Thu Trang, president of the Art Space association and the Toucher Arts project, said: “Vietnam Week in Nantes attracted thousands of French people. Everyone was excited to learn about Vietnam and the interesting customs and festivals we had introduced. I think the reason is that we told Vietnamese cultural history differently from the point of view of young people and it was done by these young people.

"We also hope that Vietnamese teenagers will feel national pride and responsibility to share their country's culture with the world. Today’s young generation will become Vietnam’s cultural ambassadors in the future, a bridge to help international friends know Việt Nam better." VNS

Hoàng Thu Trang (middle), head of the organisation board, takes a photo with the visitors at the event.