Welcome to France, at ‘Sharl Degoul’ Street

At the French Institute, one morning, children are participating in psychology workshops to overcome the traumas of war. It is one of the rare cultural and educational activities offered within the only cultural center and only foreign presence in Gaza. This modern and contemporary building was opened during the fall of 2012. Overcoming many obstacles was necessary to finish its construction. In 2005, the Palestinian Authority gave a piece of land on Charles de Gaulle Street – locally known as Sharl Degoul street – to France. The idea of building a structure that would house the cultural center and allow to develop its activities and its size came early on. Invitations for tenders were sent out. An architecture firm from Gaza, Zawaya, won. Construction was delayed for a long time: in 2011, Israel finally accepted to let most of the material through. Meanwhile, in 2005, Hamas took over in the enclave. A blockade was established, and one war has followed another since. But the center remains: a cultural refuge which opens on foreign lands; it is an institution in the Gaza strip. Every year, 600 students take French lessons here and can come and partake in artistic meetings. Open to all, the cultural center offers a nice hookah lounge which competes with the many coffee shops of Gaza.