UNESCO-Recognized Elements Of Intangible Cultural Heritage Of France

Traditional Briton festival Fest Noz in the Brittany region of France. Editorial credit: art_of_sun / Shutterstock.com

France has a rich culture and heritage that is well-preserved and protected by the people of the country. In this article, we have mentioned some of the elements of the intangible cultural heritage of France that have been recognized by the UNESCO. Other UNESCO-recognized intangible cultural heritage elements of France not listed here include the processional giants and dragons, the scribing tradition in French timber framing, falconry, Compagnonnage, and Cantu in paghjella.

10. Aubusson Tapestry

The craft of preparing Aubusson tapestry involves weaving using methods developed over centuries in parts of the Creuse region of France including Aubusson. Decorative wall hangings, furniture, and rugs are produced using the craft. Weaving is done manually and the process is time-consuming and expensive.

9. Maloya

This is a form of song, music, and dance that traces its origin to the Réunion Island (an overseas department of France). This form of performing arts first developed among the African and Malagasy working for the European colonists on sugar plantations on the island. The art form soon became popular in the whole of the island. In the past, maloya was dedicated to the worship of the ancestors. However, in the later years, it was used to protest against slavery and gradually became the island’s identity. Today, most cultural, social, and political events happening on Réunion Island involve maloya performances.

8. Carnival of Granville

The Carnival of Granville is an annual event that takes place in Granville during the five days prior to Mardi Gras. The maritime history of the city is closely linked to the city’s history. The carnival involves a charity float that helps raise funds for the poor. Marches by musical troupes, a children’s ball, the carnival ball, dances, and other cultural and social events are all part of the festivities of the carnival.

7. Gastronomic Meal

The gastronomic French meal is famous across the world. In France, it is a social practice for celebrations on important events in an individual’s life or in social functions and gatherings. The festive meal brings together friends, family members, and acquaintances. The dishes for the occasion are carefully selected, food and wine are paired well, a beautiful table is set out, and the guests are then encouraged to smell and taste the items on the table. The meal has a specific structure. It begins with drinks before the meal and ends in liqueurs. At least four successive courses are served in between the drinks. These courses include a starter, meat/fish served with vegetables, cheese, and dessert.

6. Craftsmanship Of Alençon Needle Lace-making

The ''point d’Alençon’' is a technique of needle lace-making. This rare technique is used in Alençon in France. The craft is highly laborious and time-consuming. A high level of craftsmanship is required to complete the tasks. The openwork textile pieces created using this technique are extremely beautiful. They are used for decorative purposes in religious and civil life. Practical apprenticeship under the supervision of an Alençon lace-maker is required to learn the craft. Seven to ten years of training is needed to excel in this craft.

5. Limousin Septennial Ostensions

This intangible cultural heritage of France features grand processions and celebrations of religious nature held every seventh year in Limousin. The relics of Catholic saints that are kept in the churches in Limousin are exhibited and worshipped on this day. A large number of people attend the event. Processions exhibiting the reliquaries, banners, decorations, costumed historical figures, etc., move through the streets where these celebrations are held. The whole population of the region, both Christians and non-Christians participate in the celebrations.

4. Summer Solstice Fire Festivals

The Pyrenees region of France celebrates the summer solstice fire festivals. The festivals are held every year on the night of the summer solstice. On this occasion, traditionally constructed beacons are set to fire by flaming torches. People from the towns and villages in the Pyrenees region participate in these activities. It is an event that brings the community closer together. Social exchanges are common during this time. Social ties are regenerated. The first beacon is lighted by the mayor in some municipalities. In others, it might be lit by the most recently married man in the area. A number of local and national level organizations keep this tradition alive to this date.

3. Gwoka

The Gwoka is a performing art form that is common to all religious and ethnic groups of Guadeloupean society. Guadeloupe is an overseas region and department of France in the Caribbean. The Gwoka includes playing rhythms on Ka drums, responsorial singing in Guadeloupean Creole, and dancing. During a Gwoka act, the spectators form a circle around the performance area. The soloists and the dancers then enter in turn and perform to the sound of the drums. The public sings the chorus and claps to encourage the performers.

2. Fest-Noz

It is a Breton traditional festival that involves singing, instrumental music, and traditional Breton dances. Many of the traditional dances performed during this festival are ancient with some dating to the Middle Ages. The Fest-Noz celebrations thus allow the celebrating community to preserve their past culture.

1. Equitation

It is a horseback riding school where a harmonious relationship between horses and humans is fostered. The training of horse riding here involves the incorporation of non-violence, lack of constraint, understanding of the mood and body of a horse and acting accordingly, and related practices. The school thus teaches its riders to respect and love the animals.


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