“There is so much friendship between the French and the Scots,” says Miranda McIntosh, the Head of the Scottish Government Office in France.
She has been in her post in Paris for a year now, and the office is five years old.
“We promote Scottish business, arts, sport, and culture. France is Scotland’s biggest export market for food and drink. Salmon and whisky are the big ones, but West coast langoustines are prized, along with Aberdeen Scotch beef, and Brewdog beers. Last year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Scottish salmon being awarded the prestigious Red Label status. It was the first non-French food to receive that certification.”
“We run events enabling French chefs to spend time in Scotland discovering Scottish products and produce, so that they can incorporate them into their cuisine back in France. We also work with culinary schools.”
The links between the two nations stretch back to the Auld Alliance, she explains.
“The terms of the Alliance have changed throughout history, but regarding architecture, cuisine, culture, and social values, connections continue to be very strong.”
In 2013, France and Scotland signed a Statement of Intent formalising their intention to deepen cooperation in the cultural sphere.
Highlighting each other’s creativity and heritage
The aim is to highlight each other’s creativity and heritage, to support collaborations between artists, foster partnerships between cultural institutions, and to develop cultural exchanges between the nations.
“There is a very active Scottish diaspora in France. We work closely with the Caledonian Society and the Auld Alliance Association. We worked with the latter to set up a new town twinning between Cruden Bay and Châtillon-sur-Indre. There are quite a number of ‘GlobalScots’ in France, too.”
GlobalScot is an international business network (set up in 2001) which helps members to access investment, as well as share knowledge and connections to help Scotland punch above its weight on the international stage.
“Aberdeen, Napier, and Edinburgh universities also have alumni organisations in France.”
Mrs McIntosh notes that as a centre of Celtic cultures, Brittany has very strong links with Scotland, not least of which is the Lorient Interceltique Festival (4-13 August, 2023) which is enormous and always showcases Scottish talent.
But there are also deep connections in other areas, including renewable energy.
She says that following hot on the heels of this spring’s Trophée Auld Alliance is the World Cup, which will take place in France in September and October.
“The Scottish rugby team will be based in Nice, which is twinned with Edinburgh. There is sure to be a strong Scottish contingent visiting France for the occasion.”
A key moment last year was unveiling a commemorative plaque in October at Les Invalides in Paris for Scottish soldiers who have fought on French soil.
Another important date is the annual WW2 commemorations in Normandy.
The Scottish Government Office in France exists to promote Scotland and all things Scottish, and works closely with Scottish Development International, Scotland’s trade and inward investment agency.
“We’re always interested in discovering Scottish or Scottish-themed businesses, and are happy to help them with promotion and networking.”
The office promotes Scottish festivals, ceilidhs, Highland games, and St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night events in France.
Businesses can contact them by emailing email@example.com, or by following them on Twitter, @ScotGovFrance. It is also possible to sign up for their newsletter.