The project

Within the Mobility space, the ‘Light, Enlightenment’ pavilion brings France’s vision to an international audience. It epitomises a bold, winning and innovative vision of the city and connected territories. It celebrates the French model of innovation that combines competitiveness and sustainable development. It is structured around the 3 bioclimatic pillars.

French Pavilion’s Ambassadors

The French Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai UAE is proud to reveal the names of its two ambassadors: Jessica Préalpato, French Pastry Chef, and Thomas Pesquet, French astronaut with the ESA. These two ambassadors of the French Pavilion fully embody its values of boldness and French art de vivre.

Jessica Préalpato: a chef who is committed to better living and environmental protection

Jessica Préalpato is the Pastry Chef at the Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Plaza Athénée. Under the stewardship of Alain Ducasse and alongside the chef Romain Meder, she has been redefining the whole concept of pâtisserie at the restaurant since 2015. Her approach – known as desseralité – is nature-oriented and based entirely on producers’ seasonal offerings.

This led to her being voted “World’s Best Pastry Chef” at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2019. Through her innovative approach to pastry, she promotes short food supply chains and the circular economy, which benefit small producers and showcase the wealth of local produce.

Thomas Pesquet: a commitment to science and innovation

As part of the Proxima mission, Thomas Pesquet lived and worked on board the International Space Station from November 2016 to June 2017. Spurred on by the belief that our future on Earth depends on a better knowledge of space, he sought to illustrate this vision and raise awareness for all generations by sharing the photographs he took of the Earth. His next flight into orbit around the blue planet is scheduled for summer 2021.

He is also promoting careers in science among the young and very youngest generations, who can be sources of innovation and bring new breakthrough ideas.


The conception of the pavilion is based on the 3 bioclimatic pillars: managing the solar gain, offering a highly insulated and airtight envelope, and limiting as much as possible the use of fossil fuels.

A virtuous conception

Over 80% of the energy used is produced by the French Pavilion itself.

The forecourt and waiting area are protected from the sun’s rays by the suspended canopies. This protective shell is covered with solar panels. It uses the light to produce photoelectric energy. This dual function allows the work to be almost autonomous in energy and drastically reduces energy waste.

The intrinsic nature of the building is reinforced by the use of innovative and high-performing technical systems.  In particular, there is an installation which allows the interior of the building to be cooled naturally while reducing its consumption by 20%. 

Another system that protects the ecosystem is a micro purification station that recycles waste water and feeds it into the plant-watering network and the flushing systems of the lavatories.  In this way drinking water requirements in the pavilion are reduced by 30%.

These systems, in addition to being highly efficient, are perfectly controlled and adapted to the climatic context and to local temperatures.

The scenography is highly dematerialised and makes only very minimal use of hard materials that have a high environmental impact. And as for the use of materials for lighting and projection, they will all be in low consumption.


‘Light, Enlightenment’, a pavilion symbolising the sharing of ideas and expertise

The French pavilion is the emblem of French participation in the exhibition, a showcase for the economic and touristic attractiveness of our country, and a space offering an experience to all audiences, and it expresses France’s unique vision by combining an ambitious architectural project with immersive scenography.

This alliance has a dual objective, as it celebrates the French innovation model that enables sustainable development and business competitiveness to be combined at an international level.  

Perfect embodiment of the expression of mobility desired by France, this pavilion was designed according to one theme:   Light, Enlightenment.

Rayon de soleil sur un détail du Pavillon
Terrasse du Pavillon

An architectural and artistic creation between heaven and earth

At the centre of the project is a guiding idea: that the visitor’s experience should begin outside the work and be continued seamlessly when they enter the interior, with the waiting time being transformed into a time for sharing, feeling, a whole concert of sensations inviting you to dream.

5 100

m2 of built surface area

1 160

m2 of gardens


m2 of façade

2 700

m2 of photovoltaic panels

Designed as a screen that is both vertical and horizontal, the French Pavilion reveals on its interior side a spectacular façade of 1,800 m2, arranged with a lower part dedicated to the public, and a higher part devoted to professionals. The gap between these two masses produces a forecourt on the ground of 1,000 m2 which is totally protected from the sun and brightened by a French-style garden planted with local species, olive trees, albizias, flamboyants, ficus, bottle trees, lemon trees, hibiscus, yucca and oleanders. 

On the exterior, the roof and rear façade of the building are covered with solar panels coloured from an Impressionist palette that is reminiscent of the Water Lilies of Monet. 

Because of its unique nature and its correlation with the innovative theme of the Expo 2020 Dubai, the French Pavilion design will be honoured by a stamp issued by the Post Office as part of the official philatelic programme for 2020.


The 4 dimensions of the visitor experience

As the visitor arrives from the avenue bordering the pavilions in the Mobility area, they gradually catch sight of the French Pavilion. All along the outside of the building, they will pass a French-style bistro and its terrace or a shop, evoking a piece of a French urban landscape.  As they emerge onto the forecourt, they can wander through the gardens and admire the light show before entering the reception area and beginning to look at the exhibition.

From then on, the visitor is plunged into a space filled with sounds, light, scents and materials.  Their tour of over 1,000 m2 is structured around three areas that they discover one by one.

The first space, Immersion(s), is an interaction with the public. The luminous ambience evolves continuously according to the presence of the visitor. Hundreds of sounds produce a very special atmosphere, contrasting with the exterior and accentuating the impression of a parallel universe.

The second space, Perception(s), displays the various different facets of the French vision of mobility. Totally adjustable, this demonstration area multiplies the scenarios of the exhibition: circular projections, single set or modular arrangements for the exhibiting sponsors. Sound elements run through the room, accompanying the movement of the public.

The last room, Reflection(s), transports the visitor through French landscapes made up of tradition and innovation. 

Temporary exhibitions are accessible on the ground floor of the building, complemented by a cultural programme devised around 24 themes.

The Enlightened 24 weeks  

The reason why of a universal Exhibition is to create a platform for exchange in order to find solutions to the great issues of the future. Dubai 2020, focussed on the theme of ‘Connecting minds, Creating the future’, is an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between digital technologies and the sustainable world, from smart cities to connected territories.

"Light, Enlightenment", the French Pavilion, located in the area devoted to the theme of Mobility, aims to highlight the fastest mobility there can be (that of Light), as well as to epitomise the Enlightenment, the symbol of the sharing and dissemination of knowledge since the eighteenth century.

Through a programme entitled "The Enlightened 24", France wishes to provide tangible responses on the theme of "Connecting minds, Creating the future".

At the rate of one per week, the Enlightened 24 weeks will be presented throughout Expo 2020 Dubai in the form of lectures, projections, round tables, artistic performances, science, concerts, etc.

Le pavillon illuminé, de nuit
Salle intérieure, jeux de lumières


A sustainable vision of France on the international stage

Created in January 2018, COFREX (French Exhibition Company) is a public company. Its creation embodies the emergence of a structure of expertise to take the French brand to major international events.

Its aim is to prepare, organise and implement France’s participation in universal and international Exhibitions. 

COFREX has been created as part of a sustainable project to use the experience of previous Exhibitions in order to organise, in an optimal way and for the best cost, France’s participation in universal and international Exhibitions. It forms part of a rationale of partnership between public and private players, based around France’s image and attractiveness.


France has decided having a permanent structure, specialized on international and universal exhibitions. Indeed, previously, General Commissioners were appointed for each universal or international exhibition, and specific structures were created and then dissolved. This functioning did not guarantee the performance of relations, including partnerships, for each exhibition. The creation of COFREX is part of a sustainable project that builds on the experience of previous exhibitions in order to optimally, coherently and sustainably organize French involvements. 

Other countries do have the same operating with a sustainable structure, such as Switzerland, Spain, or Japan.

Governance within COFREX is twofold:

  • COFREX is managed by its public shareholders (100%) through a board of directors, a majority of which represents four contributing ministries: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. Independent directors are also members of this board of directors.
  • The project "Expo Dubai 2020" exhibition is directed by a strategic committee, chaired by Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. This strategic committee's mission is to ensure that French participation is most relevant to the most representative innovations of the French economy, upon the theme of the connected and sustainable city. This committee includes State representatives, experts, as well as companies that finance the French participation in Dubai 2020.

Think Tank 

‘Connecting minds’: a platform for reflection, demonstration and exchange for players in French innovation

Created in November 2018, the ‘Connecting Minds’ Think Tank has the aim of bringing to the design of the Pavilion and its scenography the most representative content of our expertise. It enables all players in French innovation to come together: businesses, and institutional, university and scientific players.

Vue salle intérieure
Vue salle intérieure, écrans illuminés

The working groups promote French best practice and/or innovation and formulate ground-breaking, ambitious and concrete propositions for these models to be developed and better promoted, both in France and abroad.

Key dates

Confirmation of French Participation
Un homme, de dos
Appointment of the General Auditor
Portrait d'Erik Linquier
Creation of COFREX
Approval of the Thematic Declaration "The French vision of a society with connected minds"
Meeting of the 1st Committee of Strategic Finalisation of the Interior Layout of the French Pavilion
Revelation of the Architecture and Scenery of the French Pavilion
Le Pavillon France vu de face
Laying of the foundation stone at Dubaï
Finalisation of Interior Layout
Final Design of the Immersive Experience
Opening of Expo 2020 Dubai
Vue extérieure du Pavillon
France Day at the Universal Exhibition
Tour Eiffel
Closure of Expo 2020 Dubai
Vue aérienne de nuit du site de l'exposition universelle
End of Dismantling of the Pavilion
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