WE MIGHT think we know a bit about France.

We’re familiar with its beaches, its food, parts of its history. But how much do we really know about its cultural life and the kind of art produced across the Channel?

The Diep-Haven Festival seeks to address that knowledge gap through a programme of exhibitions and events taking place in Sussex and France. The starting point for the festival’s organisers was the link between Newhaven and Dieppe, between which runs the popular ferry.

Co-curator Rosie Hermon (who puts on the event with Alice Mallet) describes the boat as the “umbilical cord” between us and our French neighbours.

“We both need each other – France needs England and England needs France,” she says. “We are trying to break down the barrier of language through being completely bilingual. We have created a completely Franco-British festival with as many events happening in England as in France.”

When asked whether they think we are largely ignorant of France’s cultural and artistic identity, both Rosie and Alice are unequivocal in their responses. And they add that it’s the same the other way around.

“Completely ignorant,” says Alice. “The English get off the ferry and drive straight to the South of France and the French go straight to Brighton or London. They don’t know about Bois des Moutiers or Charleston,” she adds, referring to two of the locations at the festival.

Alice points out that the historic link between the two nations can be traced as far back as the Battle of Hastings, and says “there is still much to be done” in modern relations between the countries.

Rosie adds: “In the grand scheme of things the distance between Newhaven and Dieppe is actually very short, and there is a lot that can be learnt and discovered from our closest neighbours no matter which side of the Channel one is looking out from.”

The theme of this year’s programme is “Terra Firma”, with participating artists invited to explore the theme of human’s relationship with nature.

“Until now, each edition of the festival has been connected in some way with the Channel as the point of connection,” says Rosie.

“Turning our focus instead onto the landscape and the similarities and differences that exist both in the landscape itself and the treatment of the land felt like a strand that had been mostly overlooked by Diep-Haven up to this point.”

Three highlights of Diep-Haven Festival

The Floating Garden

Cross-Channel Ferry Newhaven Port, throughout July

Taking place on the ferry that runs between Newhaven and Dieppe, this event aims to educate guests about the plantlife of the Sussex and Normandy coastlines. Vegetable pasties will be served on the ride.

The Woven Garden

Bois des Moutiers, June 9 to August 31

The work of three women – Azadeh Fatehrad, Gertrude Jekyll and Leonara Hamill – will be exhibited around the historic house and gardens of Bois des Moutiers in Normandy.

The Moving Forces

Chateau-Musee de Dieppe, June 9 to August 31

A part-video installation in the outdoor spaces and 14th century castle tower of Chateau-Musee.

Diep-Haven Festival

Various locations in Sussex and France, from June 9 to end of August. For the full programme, tickets and more information visit diephaven.org