For over a century, the French played a dominant role within Southeast Asia, having protectorates in countries such as Vietnam and Laos. Because of this, there is a wide range of French cultural influence over these countries, and Laos is no different. You can see the French influence in such areas as French colonial houses in many of the cities, restaurants and shops, and schools that still offer the French language and literature as part of their primary curriculum.
While Laos fought to gain their independence from France in the 1950s, there has remained a strong bond between the two nations that has been reinvigorated in the 1990s. With a strong desire to bring the two cultures together in the more modern societies the Lao-French Institute was created in 1993 with the goal of accomplishing this.
Created within the premises of the French Embassy, this institute became a center focused on cooperation in language and culture. In fact, in January 1995 the Institute took on the moniker of the Language and Cultural Cooperation Centre (CCCL).
What is interesting about the center is that the French government has entrusted a foreign entity with the responsibility of promoting French cultural interests within the borders of that foreign country. There is also a large amount of the artistic exchange that occurs between the two cultures, including in areas such as the performing arts, architecture, literature, language, movies, and ideas. For those who understand French culture, it is quite uncommon for them to give such autonomy to a foreign government to teach French ideals and culture. This is what makes this institute truly remarkable.
This fantastic Institute offers great opportunity for visitors to see the exchange of ideas between the two cultures. In fact, students from both countries visit their counterparts to study, and students from other nations are encouraged to come to the Lao-French Institute to study as well. This is a golden opportunity to gain to cultural perspectives in one fantastic learning experience.
Tours of the Institute are offered Monday through Friday and afford visitors the opportunity to see this great exchange of ideas. The art and architecture alone will make this venture well worth it.