Mission of the Maison Française:
Founded in 1985, the Maison Française exists to promote the French language and Francophone cultures by creating a space in which French is the language of communication and by organizing cultural activities that highlight the many countries where French is spoken. As a residential house, the Maison offers students the experience of immersion in a French community right at home. As a center for Francophone cultural life, the Maison brings together students, faculty and members of the community to enjoy and learn about the French-speaking world.
Contact Information for the Maison Française:
Office: New Cabell Hall, Room 373
French House Language Assistant (in residence)
French House Activities Coordinator (not in residence)
French House R.A. (in residence)
Vivre à la Maison Française, c’est….
At a meeting of the Board of Visitors held in Charlottesville on October 7, 1817, Thomas Jefferson, wrote that he desired a French-speaking boarding facility at the University of Virginia “wherein it is proposed that the boarders shall be permitted to speak French only, with a view to their becoming familiarized to conversation in that language”. In 1985, his desire came into fruition, due in large part to the vision and tireless efforts of Professor Robert T. Denommé (1930-2011). The Maison Française, built in 1896 by Dr. Paul Barringer and located at 1404 Jefferson Park Avenue, is a prime example of the Queen Anne style of architecture. The mansion was renovated in 1984 and opened its doors to the first generation of French-speaking students in the Fall of 1985. It is both a residential house and a center for French cultural life at the University of Virginia. Students, faculty and members of the community all play an important role in fostering the unique cultural and educational atmosphere of the Maison Française.
The French House is located at 1404 Jefferson Park Avenue, between the Casa Bolívar and the university hospital. The location provides easy access to the Department of French in nearby New Cabell Hall, to Old Cabell, to the Elson Student Health Center, and to the Corner. In order to maximize student learning, a Language House Advisor from the prestigious École Normale Supérieure-Paris lives in the house with the residents. The French Department also appoints an Activities Coordinator (not in residence) who, along with French House residents, supervises and coordinates a regular program of events that is offered to residents, to faculty and graduate students of the French Department, and to associate members and friends of the Maison.
- Amenities: The House has satellite reception with as many as 25 television channels. There are laundry facilities, bathrooms, and a kitchen available for use by the residents. On the first floor, the Maison contains a large kitchen and dining room, a living room, a library, and a seminar room. There is a piano located in the living room which residents are also free to use. Adjacent to the living room is a library, where students may study. A larger seminar room, where French courses are taught, is also located on the first floor. In addition, the Maison has 17 bedrooms: eight doubles and nine singles. This number excludes the rooms reserved for resident staff and the French assistant. Rooms are assigned by the French House Director, with preference given to fourth-year and returning students.
- Dinners at the French House: Evening meals are an essential part life at the French House because they give residents the opportunity to get to know one another while speaking French under the supervision and guidance of a more fluent speaker. Meals are served at 6 pm from Monday to Thursday, and residents are required to attend at least two meals per week. Residents are also required to purchase a language house meal plan. Residents are welcome to invite faculty members from the French Department and other French-speaking visitors.
- Language Requirement: In order to fully participate in the French immersion environment at the Maison Française, students must be at or beyond the intermediate, 2000-level (or its equivalent) to apply. Exceptions to the language requirement can be made on a case-by-case basis.
- French House Conversation Course: Students living at the French House have the unique opportunity to enroll in the 1-credit French House Conversation course (FREN 3028 in the Fall and FREN 3029 in the spring). This course allows students to put their French to use by creating exciting and engaging community service projects that are tailored to students’ academic or personal interests. Past projects include: creating sustainability initiatives at the French house, making video creations, planning a French Revolution themed haunted house, hosting local elementary students for a cooking project, and moderating discussions about French politics and culture. Grading for the course is “student option”: students may take these courses for credit/no credit or for a grade. Credits that are taken for a grade can be applied towards a major or minor in French.
- Parking: There is no reserved parking available at the Maison.