Alliance Française Manchester, 125 Portland St,, Manchester, M1 4QD – Visit Now
Located on Portland Street in the heart of Manchester’s city centre is Alliance Française, a centre of Francophone cultures and more general sharing of the French Language. Having been based here for two years the centre is a welcoming and open space of culture in an area that from the outside can seem quite hectic and busy. Once inside you would never know that you are metres away from the main road. A large part of Alliance Française’s work is offering language lessons in various formats but it also acts as a hub of French Language culture with a well stocked library, book and film clubs, exhibitions and talks from visiting French speakers with varied areas of expertise.
Having started in Manchester in 1997 the centre is part of an international community of similar partner organisations who want to share and celebrate a communal language. The centre is also connected to a network of other committees in Bristol/Bath, Cambridge, Exeter/Dartington, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds, Milton-Keynes, Newcastle, Oxford and York. Unlike other cultural and language centres, such as Instituto Cervantes, each Alliance Française works completely independently within the city that they are based. Alliance Française Manchester is run by a small team of culturally minded and enthusiastic French speakers from a mixture of backgrounds.
As you walk into the centre you are met by the tastefully presented Library. Alliance Française’s Médiathèque francophone is the largest French language resource centre in the North West. As well as containing many of the big names from the canon of French language literature, the library has a well chosen selection of children’s books, DVD’s, Magazines and sections on travel, theatre, graphic novels, gastronomy and current affairs. For anyone who is in the process of learning French, there is also a mixture of easier books to read as well as the more hardcore hardbacks and an invaluable group of learning resources. To borrow items you have to become a member, however, anyone is welcome to consult any of the materials whilst in the Library.
With such a wealth of reading available, it seems only natural for the centre to run a monthly book club. These happen on one Monday evening each month. Typically the text being discussed will be advertised before the session. These clubs are open to all and centre around having an informal talk about the book of choice. It’s an excellent way to combine your reading and conversational skills in French.
In addition to the book club, the centre also has a cinema club. By combining two of the teaching spaces with a large projector and sound system they create a space for people to watch a wide selection of French cinema. Thanks to a new licensing format they can now show a more diverse range of films which are discussed afterwards in French or English. Each movie is shown in a daytime session and an evening session, making it convenient for more people to come to watch them.
Another large part of the Alliance Française’s cultural calendar are the exhibitions it hosts. These are found on the walls of the building and grab your attention and curiosity as you move through the library and classroom spaces. They can vary from historically informed pieces to Fashion, Fine art, politics and how French culture is relevant to contemporary Manchester. The centre usually brings in relevant guests to talk about each exhibition in more depth as they occur. A lot of the art displayed is by contemporary artists making it an extremely valuable chance to hear about the work directly from the creators.
Details about language classes can be found on the Alliance Française Manchester website along with specific details about each event. As a cultural centre, it is very open and welcoming to all regardless of your level of French and an ideal environment for cultural exchanges to take place.