The Alliance Française is an independent, not-for-profit language and cultural organisation. It was founded in 1883 in Paris as a national association to promote the French language around the world under the guidance of Pierre Foncin and Ambassador Paul Cambon. The Paris Alliance was created the following year by a board of directors featuring famous figures such as Jules Verne (author), Louis Pasteur (chemist and biologist) and Ferdinand de Lesseps (diplomat). The first Alliance Française abroad was created in Barcelona that same year.
Today there are 800+ Alliances Françaises in 132 countries, with more than 500,000 students worldwide, from Argentina to Canada, from the furthest tip of Africa to northernmost Scandinavia and across Russia, Asia and Oceania. Even in France – from Paris to Nice – the Alliance Française offers international students the opportunity to discover the richness of the French culture whilst living right in the midst of it. Each Alliance Française is an independent association bound by a common purpose to the Fondation Alliance Française. Each is, however, part of a worldwide network and is recognised for its high quality programs as well as the strong bonds forged with its local cultural, educational and business communities in addition to the French Government.
Today the Alliance Française has set the benchmark for teaching French as a foreign language. The Alliance’s recognition by the French Ministry for Education and European organisations such as ALTE (the Association of Language Testers in Europe) clearly demonstrates its leadership in this field. The Alliance Française courses and programs creatively bring together French language and culture in a very diverse student body, proving that a language truly lives only when shared.
The Alliances do not play a French diplomatic role at an international level. However, they can provide information on how to contact the French embassy or consulate. In Australia, passionate supporters and volunteers have worked alongside one another since 1895 to establish a dynamic network of Alliances that symbolises the strength of the friendship between France and Australia.
For over 120 years, Alliance Française de Sydney has been working to fulfil its mission of promoting the French language and enhancing knowledge of Francophone cultures.
Before opening its doors as a language centre, Alliance Française de Sydney opened as a Media Centre with 600 books donated by the Paris Committee Donation
The centre as we know it today first opened in this year, with a focus on education as opposed to cultural events. Georges Biard D’aunet was the first president of the Alliance.
The Alliance shared a building at 2 Bond Street with FAACI and Le Courrier Australien, the French Consulate and the French Benevolent Society.
On 6 October, under Albert Pinard, the first social event took place: the Bal-Concersazione. French conversation evenings and recitals were also launched for AFS students.
Following Germany's declaration of war, the Alliance returns to its state as a library, with the absence of so many members of Sydney's French families and disruptions to daily life.
Due to "problèmes relationnels", the Alliance moves to 36 Moore Street, on the corner of Castlereagh Street.
The Alliance moves again to 42 Bridge Street, and remained here throughout the inter-war period.
France restarts nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, much to Australia's displeasure. This causes some cross-cultural tension which is felt by the Alliance.
The spiralling staircase which cascades toward the entrance foyer was the last commercial and public design by
famed architect, Harry Seidler. Joel Hakim and Bruce Bland lead this project.
Over the period of a week, the Alliance develops and transitions to a remote learning model, as Sydney is plunged into lockdown in attempt to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus.