france pavilion expo 2020
Students study the pages of famous date archives on display at the France Pavilion Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

What if we told you that you could borrow astronaut vision for a moment? If you’re still mildly impressed, then how about seeing a historic collection of books that most likely triggered the French Revolution of 1789? What you’re looking for is the France Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Clear your growing list of Expo attractions with our handy pavilion guide for a quick overview.

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Where is the France Pavilion?

This is one of the first pavilions you see upon entering the Mobility District. Neighbouring Iran and Chile, the France Pavilion is located on the main avenue that leads to Al Wasl Plaza. If you are across the site in a different district, board the free People Mover shuttle near the main gates till it drops you off at the Mobility District.

france pavilion expo 2020
Night view of the France Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

The pavilion features a short esplanade or a promenade dotted with block artwork by Franco-Iranian artist Sepand Danesh. You can sit here and admire the pavilion’s own light shows when the sun sets or choose to grab a bite at one of the many kiosks lining the esplanade.

What can you do at the pavilion?

It is a winding journey through a set of permanent exhibitions, which you can tour at any time. Further up ahead, a room of temporary exhibits refreshes monthly. We tell you all that is coming up so you won’t miss a thing. And did we mention you get to try authentic macarons and croissants?

france pavilion expo 2020
Paris-Versailles Cafe is adjacent to the pavilion on the ground floor, with a separate entrance as well Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

1. Original volumes of ‘Encyclopedie’: Featuring philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire, this hefty collection had 18th-century France up in arms. All 35 volumes written over a period of 30 years were brought to Dubai, on loan from the French National Archives.

Its pages hold a wealth of scientific and progressive thought – some books are open for you to take a peek as soon as you enter. So eye-opening was the encyclopaedic content that it fuelled reform movements, which led to the 1789 French Revolution.

2. Space-shuttle views: Bird’s-eye view? Try astronaut’s-eye view from the International Space Station (ISS). A globular replica of a space shuttle window on the wall lets you see what astronauts up there really see. It’s bound to be a jaw-dropping experience for the little ones.

france pavilion expo 2020
Your view from space at France Pavilion Image Credit: Sahar Ejaz/Gulf News

3. Feel Antarctica: A teeth-chattering experience awaits next. In this cold space with sheets of ice-blue curtains overhead, we are underwater at the South Pole. Ambient sounds of icebergs cracking and whale callings fill the planetary sciences section. Large screens on the walls show off the vibrant marine life and snippets of a research team at the Antarctica.

It’s through the senses that you truly pick up on the environmental impact we have on Earth, even in the remotest of places.

4. Temporary exhibits: The last room is dedicated to special exhibits that last for a month each. As of December, 2021, visitors can enjoy three chambers lit in red, blue and green lights, a colour-study by artist Carol Cruz-Diez. ‘Chromosaturation’ will be replaced by another display in January. Find out what’s next:

  • January 21 to February 21, 2022, The Grand Paris Express: Experience what it would be like to travel via Paris’ new metro surrounded by a 360-degree projection.
  • February 25 to March 31, 2022, Jean Paul Gaultier: Thirty iconic pieces by the unconventional French fashion designer, who dressed Madonna and Kylie Minogue at concerts.
expo chromosaturation france pavilion
Chromosaturation exhibition will last till January 14, 2022 Image Credit: Guillaume Argento/France Pavilion

5. French munchies: Luxury French bakery house Ladurée has its famous macarons up for taste at a kiosk along the promenade. Meanwhile, the temporary exhibition leads visitors to the Paris-Versailles Café on the ground floor. At the French brasserie, picture yourself in Parisian streets pausing for a quick lunch of smoked turkey baguette for Dh49 or a quick snack of butter croissant for Dh15 with a cup of hot chocolate at Dh35.