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Change and diversity
You couldn’t go wrong. Our Forum was being held at a new address: the beautiful Town Hall of the 7th
arrondissement, formerly the Hôtel de Villars, built in the 17th century and owned by the City of Paris since
1862. On the ground floor, freshly installed signs led to the registration room, where our Vice-President
Catherine Jeantaud was busy, and to the French classes. A sign from the Mairie, "Passports and identity
cards", doubled by another, "Presentation of activities", led to the first floor. Nobody got lost. The Deputy
Mayor, Josiane Gaude, welcomed some rather special visitors, our foreign diplomat friends from all over the
Change is not merely geographical. Our president, Véronique Debieuvre, after thanking the 100 volunteers,
"all of whom are professional, open-minded and generous", stressed Bienvenue’s desire to present
programmes related to the theme of diversity, and to offer activities that reflect today’s world, without of
course abandoning the richness of France’s heritage.
For example, "Les samedis en province" will shortly be organising a visit to Sarcelles under the auspices of
the prefecture and the mayor, Patrick Haddad, with a visit to the Nelson Mandela sports centre where many
foreign delegations will be training for the 2024 Olympic Games. Old stone aficionados will then be able to
admire the Ecouen Castle.
"A la Découverte des patrimoines" will feature the Institut du Monde Arabe and its "Parfums d’Orient"
exhibition, as well as the INALCO (Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales). The Institute is housed
in the beautiful Hôtel de Bernage. History is always present in Paris.
To add to the diversity of Bienvenue’s membership, a new group "Saturday in Paris" will be open to spouses,
male and female diplomats.
Another group is even going to abandon French for the language of Shakespeare. Let’s open our doors to
English speakers! "English promenades", led by Jane Etienne, will be visiting some prestigious sites. The
first outing is planned for the American Embassy.
Even the sacrosanct world of fashion is getting in on the modern act, with a visit to the Musée des Arts
Décoratifs for an exhibition highlighting the relationship between haute couture and sport, a look at the work
of Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen and her sculptural dresses, and a visit to the studios of the great designers
in Aubervilliers in the footsteps of the Queen of England and Madame Macron.
Our founding president, Marie-Thérèse François Poncet, who has received good news from Véronique
Debieuvre following her serious accident, is supporting this development. Hasn’t she always preached