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In Pictures & Siem Reap: A visit to the Francophonie Celebration

Marking the culmination of a week-long celebration, the weekend of 23 and 24 March saw a number of events as well as a large market bringing together more than 50 exhibitors.

Malis by Thalias, one of the main sponsors of the event
Malis by Thalias, one of the main sponsors of the event

After the many activities proposed during the week, the heart of the festivities took place in front of the Royal Gardens, where the public could wander among the stalls and dance to French rhythms. Some of those present had previously visited the École française d'Extrême-Orient, which was holding an open day. The screening of two particularly captivating documentaries in the presence of their director, Didier Fassio, provided an opportunity to explore some little-known and fascinating historical aspects. In the same spirit of popularisation, the EFEO gave the public an opportunity to discover the very latest images acquired using Lidar. Carried out the day before, the drone surveys are full of surprises, revealing unsuspected and previously invisible structures.

Long carried out by helicopter, Lidar surveys can now be carried out by drone, thanks to miniaturisation
Long carried out by helicopter, Lidar surveys can now be carried out by drone, thanks to miniaturisation

Happy to share their knowledge, the archaeologists explained in detail the processes they use. At the same time, a ceramic kiln was being fired, a testament to experimental archaeology that enables us to gain an experiential understanding of ancient processes. Some forty pieces were fired in the kiln at temperatures in excess of 1,100 degrees Celsius.

The ceramic kiln at the École française d'Extrême-Orient
The ceramic kiln at the École française d'Extrême-Orient

In the city centre, officials and representatives of the main cultural, economic and tourist institutions gathered for the opening ceremony. Speaking on behalf of French Ambassador Jacques Pellet, Ms Élodie Wynar began by recalling Cambodia's leading role in the French-speaking world. The Kingdom is a founding member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), which was set up in 1970.

"This celebration, which will be held over several days, will showcase the friendly, creative and unifying nature of the French-speaking world. It is part of a particularly important year, 2024, which will see the Olympic Games and the Francophonie Summit in Villers-Cotterêts."

Ms Wynar welcomed the fact that French remains a major international language, present on all five continents and spoken by 300 million people. A number that is set to grow even further in the years to come," said Ms Wynar, "reaching 700 million by 2035. French has a special place in Cambodia. Firstly because it is a language of memory, since the national archives are written in French. But it is also a language of the future, offering access to fields of excellence and undeniable opportunities for the future.

Philippe and Sokunthea provided the soundtrack
Philippe and Sokunthea provided the soundtrack

A virtually exhaustive range of fields in which the French language is used to great effect was presented by the exhibitors, from gastronomy, the hotel trade, education, archaeological research and heritage preservation to the arts, personal services and NGOs.

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