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French embassy opening to public

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People visit the French embassy in Phnom Penh. SUPPLIED

French embassy opening to public

The French embassy in Phnom Penh will once again open its doors to the public this weekend as its marks European Heritage Day, after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to its September 13 press release, the European Heritage Day, observed this year under the theme “Sustainable Heritage”, will allow visitors to view the historic building and magnificent grounds of the embassy. They will be given tours in French, Khmer and English three times a day, with visitors able to decide whether to join a group.

“Visitors will be able to learn about some of the works of art on the grounds. They can also view the gates of the original embassy depicting Francois Bizotsur’s account of the 1975 fall of Phnom Penh,” it said.

The day would end with the presentation of portraits of women and men who will form the Kingdom’s heritage in the future. They will be displayed on the outside enclosure of the embassy as part of an exhibition to mark 30 years at the Institut Francais du Cambodge.

With an area of 4.7ha, the French embassy park is one of the largest green spaces in Phnom Penh and preserves valuable biodiversity. It is home to 200 trees of more than 50 species and lists several animals as native to the grounds. The embassy displays signs describing the precious trees in the park.

The embassy will be open to the public from 8am to 4pm. Entrance is free and without registration in advance, but food, drinks (except fresh water) and large bags will not be allowed in. It is recommended that visitors wear a mask and respect health measures. They should also wear shoes that are comfortable for walking in the park.

Initiated by France, European Heritage Days are now celebrated in more than 50 countries. In Cambodia, other iconic buildings will also open their doors to the public on September 17. These include the Royal University of Fine Arts, Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, and the UNESCO office in Phnom Penh. Visiting hours and procedures will be established by each institution.

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