france pavilion expo 2020
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Pastry Chef Jessica Préalpato are the faces of the France Pavilion. Image Credit: Twitter/@francedubai2020

Dubai: All the ways in which the French are known to kick back and savour life, an inherent appreciation for every moment spent and to come, will be reflected in the visitor experience of the France Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Characterised as ‘art de vivre’, or the art of living, their attitude to life finds representation in two ambassadors of the pavilion: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Pastry Chef Jessica Préalpato.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet

Rouen-born Thomas Pesquet briefly worked at France’s space agency CNES as a research engineer then joined the ESA in 2009, where he takes part in crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

Currently, the astronaut is circling the earth’s orbit on his second six-month ISS mission named Alpha, launched in April, and is making history as the first French astronaut to serve as commander of the space station.

france pavilion expo 2020
Representing French innovation in an international capacity, ESA astronaut Pesquet is taking the French pavilion to new heights. Image Credit: Twitter/@francedubai2020

Earlier in the year, Pesquet was appointed Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Goodwill Ambassador for his work in raising awareness about climate change and its impact on agri-food systems.

As cited on the France Pavilion website, Pesquet commented on his role as one of the representatives: “The French Pavilion and this World Expo project are a great match for the social and environmental challenges our generation is facing, and these issues have always been close to my heart. They are the same values that I would like to convey through my involvement with the French Pavilion.”

On June 23, 2021, Pesquet took to his official Twitter account to share an aerial view from space of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah to commemorate the 100-day countdown till the opening of The World’s Greatest Show.

As part of the Mobility District, the French pavilion will illustrate mobility in its permanent exhibition by taking visitors on an intergalactic trip powered by CNES, where visitors will whir past the ISS then through the celestial bodies of the solar system.

Pastry Chef Jessica Préalpato

The World’s Best Pastry Chef, according to the 2019 World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, is preparing an exclusive dessert for the French pavilion in her signature fashion of ‘desseralite’ - a concept that Jessica Préalpato herself pioneered.

A blend of Chef Alain Ducasse’s ‘naturalite’ cooking, which involves using seasonal produce and respecting the planet's resources, and her own pastry expertise, Prealpato’s desseralité honours raw ingredients and promotes lighter, healthier eating.

france pavilion expo
Préalpato will use regional produce such as dates, saffron and honey to whip up the signature dessert for the France Pavilion, a preview (pictured) of which was shared by the pavilion's official Twitter account. Image Credit: Twitter/@francedubai2020

The head pastry chef of the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athéné Restaurant in Paris is bringing a gastronomy fusion of French and Middle Eastern flavours to the ground-floor restaurant of the pavilion. The patissiere will use regional produce such as dates, saffron and honey to whip up a dessert that defines France's participation at the expo.

Préalpato's dedication to her assignment took her to Dubai for a period of five days in March, where she thoroughly explored the tastes of the region, meeting with local producers and sampling spices and fruits she encountered along the way in her study.

Pastry Chef Jessica Préalpato - Making of the signature dessert of France Pavilion France Dubai 2020

On becoming the face of the pavilion, Préalpato said: “Being a part of the French Pavilion adventure is an opportunity for me to represent the culinary daring that has become an important part of our cultural heritage. As I’m committed to healthier and more environmentally friendly food, I am proud to promote the French ‘art de vivre’ on the international stage.”

- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.