Cultural Heritage in France

Architecture and Sustainable Development

Summer 2019

This five-day seminar, designed for adults who are comfortable learning in French, will survey France’s cultural heritage. While much of the focus will be on tangible examples, there will also be time to explore intangible elements of cultural heritage, specifically the local Breton culture. Benjamin Sabatier, longtime SYA France history teacher, specializes in architecture and urban planning. From this perspective, he will take the group through case studies and out into the streets of Rennes to examine the impact of history and memory on cultural heritage, as well as recent movements toward sustainable development. A few examples of topics to be covered include: public housing in Drancy, reconstruction of Le Havre, Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin and Courrouze, a new eco-district in Rennes.

Classes will be held both in and outside our school and will include lectures, discussions, walking tours and guided museum visits. In addition, Benjamin and others from SYA France will host a handful of social activities throughout the week. Highlights include a local cooking class and fest-noz.

The seminar is open to SYA alums, their parents and relatives, as well as high school French teachers.

Help us spread the word!

 If you would like to help spread the word, you can follow this link to download a flyer to print and share. Thanks for your help in promoting these opportunities for SYA alumni, parents and friends, as well as teachers from our sending schools! 

Seminar Details

Dates for 2019

June 24 - June 28, 2019

While the actual class days of the seminar are June 24 through June 28, 2019, please be sure to arrive in time for the opening dinner on June 23!

Course Topics

  • History of cultural heritage in France / Histoire du patrimoine en France
  • Architectural heritage of 20th-century France / Le patrimoine monumental du 20e siècle en France
  • Case studies on history of architecture and memory / Histoire de l’architecture et mémoire, études de cas.
  • Intangible cultural heritage in France / Le patrimoine immatériel en France
  • Urban planning and sustainable development : case studies of eco-districts in France / Urbanisme et développement durable : études de cas d’écoquartiers en France
  • Rennes, a sustainable city? Visit the eco-district “La Courrouze” à Rennes.

For a more complete description, please see course outline.



Cost of Seminar

The cost is $1,675 (price does not include flight or hotel); however, if you are a teacher or administrator from one of SYA's Member Schools, the tuition will be reduced to $1,200.

Rennes, France

Rennes, capital of Brittany and located in northwestern France, was named France's most liveable city  by L'Express in 2018.  Its charm, in part, is due to  its mixed heritage -- Celtic and French.  Rennes is only 50 km from the English Channel and a mere 90-minute train ride from Paris. A university town, with a robust student population, Rennes is also a cultural hub, hosting numerous festivals and music events throughout the year.

From SYA's school, a restored townhouse in a residential neighborhood near Thabor Park, it's a short walk downtown.

About Benjamin Sabatier

Dr. Benjamin Sabatier, now in his 15th year at SYA, is a history teacher and IT coordinator at SYA France. Benjamin designed and teaches two courses: France and Europe: War and Revolution from 1789-1989 and The Building of a Nation: Modern French History through Cities. In addition to working at SYA, he works at the University of Rennes as an associate researcher, with a focus on architecture, urbanism and heritage. Benjamin holds an MA in History from the University of Brest, an MA in Art history from the University of Rennes and has earned a doctorate from the University of Rennes both in History and Art History. Benjamin has published several articles on architecture and urban studies, and he was recently involved in a scientific council held at the Museum of Brittany which realized an exhibit on the evolution of Rennes from founding to present day. ​​​​​​​

Feedback From Past Participants

Past seminars have included a class on Don Quijote, Spanish Contemporary and Modern Art, and 100 Year of Politics in Spanish Film. Here is what participants are saying about SYA Adult Enrichment seminars:

“I have been a student of Spanish for over 25 years and a teacher for sixteen, and this week was one of the most meaningful language and cultural experiences I have ever had. I can’t recommend it enough.”

“I loved everything – practicing Spanish, the lectures, the community, spending time in Zaragoza and even the activities not connected to the class, the tapas, the wine tasting, the cooking class.”

"I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and studies in Zaragoza. I have participated in three others (summer teacher workshops) over the last 10 years (Cuernavaca and Oxford Barcelona) and this summer was, by far, my best experience. Zaragoza is a perfect city to explore but also small enough to walk most everywhere."

"[The best aspect was] The experience and knowledge of the teacher about the content of the course, and how he connected a lot of it to the location we were in, Zaragoza. Oriol did a fabulous job preparing engaging and meaningful activities for the movies we viewed. The movie director he invited to come and speak to us was a fabulous experience."

For more information,
contact Whitney Hermann ES'85 / 978-725-6828, ext. 134