Places of memory, places of creation – Centres culturel de rencontre first appeared in France in 1972, based on six emblematic monuments. The initiative received the support of Jacques Duhamel and Jacques Rigaud. The label ‘Centre culturel de rencontre’ (CCR) has thus come to mark out a project which is artistic, cultural or intellectual, working in synergy with a major heritage site. These sites put themselves at the service of creation, transmission, research and innovation, drawing a direct link between varied audiences and territories.

Created in January 1973 to stimulate and coordinate the activities of these Centres, the Association des Centres culturels de rencontre (ACCR) was recognised as a registered charity in 1983. It began straight away to focus on its national and international development. The European Charter for Cultural centres in historic monuments was adopted in Dublin in 1991, with the aim of uniting places, projects, artists and other cultural players working with a single ambition: to develop a contemporary cultural project based within a historic monument which has lost its primary use.

In France, 1992 saw the Charter of the Centre culturel de rencontre countersigned by Jack Lang, the then Minister of Culture. In 1996 the National Commission of Centres culturel de rencontre  was created, under the aegis of the Minister of Culture. Finally, in 1998 the Circulaire Trautmann (Trautmann Circular) reinforced the original positioning of Centres culturel de rencontre in public policy, and the role of the ACCR. The Orientation Council was created in 2001 with the aim of bringing together within the same informal governance structure the activities of French (historically the most numerous), European and international members.

The ACCR has developed a mainly rural network which currently comprises 15 members in France, 27 in the rest of Europe and 5 from other parts of the world.