Lothian Chambers in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town will become Scotland’s “House of France” under plans which have been given the green light by councillors.
The French consulate will move into and lease the B-Listed building on George IV Bridge, saving the city council £173,000 annually in running costs.
Leaders at the French Embassy want to create a major centre for European language and culture to celebrate historical links between France and Scotland.
Among the planned facilities are a 100-seat auditorium, multimedia library, art gallery and European language school.
The French Consul General, Emmanuel Cocher, said: “True to the Auld Alliance as well as our European bonds, France wants to invest in Edinburgh and Scotland.
“The Lothian Chambers are set to house an enhanced programme of international and Scottish cultural activities, relevant to all audiences which bring people together.
“We are conscious of taking over a central element of the civic heritage in the capital of Scotland and, in doing so, we commit ourselves to nurturing the spirit of creation and Enlightenment and cross-cultural exchanges that have made Edinburgh the ‘world art beacon’ it is known as internationally.”