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“The Napoleonic Legend Remains Widespread in the United States”

Alexander Mikaberidze is a professor of European history at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. He is the author of several books on Napoleon and has recently published a masterpiece, The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History, which shows how the French emperor changed the world. France-Amérique: Why are there are several Napoleonic research centers in the U.S., including in Louisiana and...

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Summer 1945, American GIs at the Sorbonne

After the end of the war in Europe, a challenge remained: What could be used to occupy the thousands of idle, impatient U.S. soldiers awaiting repatriation? The top brass delivered an answer: Send them to university! In record time, American study centers shot up in Paris, Nancy, Biarritz, and several other French cities. Picture the scene: At the prestigious Louis-le-Grand...

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Seventy-Five Years Ago, France-Amérique Explained the Atomic Bomb

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by an incredibly powerful bomb on August 6 and 9, 1945. In its August 19, 1945 edition, France-Amérique published a front-page feature and a rare popular science article by Jacques Errera. The Belgian physicist discussed nuclear fission and shared his vision of the future of the atomic age. “The atomic bomb...

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Off with Her Head (of Marketing)!

While the monarchy is often perceived as outdated in France, it continues to inspire a certain fascination in the United States. There are now countless brands and consumer products that reference Versailles, Louis XIV, and Marie-Antoinette, all of which have become often-kitsch symbols of French luxury. “Give your home the royal treatment with our antique collections and regal bed, bath...

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The Bastille Key, a French Relic in America

The Bastille key is a symbol of the French monarchy and the prison that was taken by Parisian revolutionaries on July 14, 1789. Today, it is exhibited in the United States at a museum south of Alexandria in Virginia. Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation located on the banks of the Potomac River, is now a museum home to the final...

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The French Origin of Robert E. Lee’s Statue in Virginia

Just like the Statue of Liberty in its time, the controversial representation of the confederate general, which has been the target of anti-racism protests, was made in Paris before being sent to the United States in 1890. “A contest has been launched for the design of a monument to General Robert E. Lee in Richmond. All participants’ models and plans...

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The French, History’s All-Time Losers?

The French excel when it comes to patisserie and haute couture, but are supposedly terrible in warfare with lily-livered soldiers going from one defeat to the next. This cliché has been peddled in the United States since the Wehrmacht entered Paris on June 14, 1940, and the French army surrendered eight days later. “Bonjourrrrr, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys!” This is...

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Occupied Paris by Janet Flanner

Writing under the pen name of Genêt, Janet Flanner (1892-1978) was the daughter of a Quaker from Indianapolis who spent fifty years brilliantly portraying Parisian life in her "Letters from Paris" for the New Yorker. Swept up in the politics of the 1930s, she gradually abandoned her neutral stance and invented a new form of journalism. She was forced to...

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George Withers, an Illustrator at War

Seventy-five years ago, on May 8, 1945, Corporal George Withers was in Paris. The war in Europe had ended, and the American artist was painting the national outpouring of joy, scenes of jubilation in Paris, and the victory marches. “Today, I saw Churchill, Anthony Eden, and De Gaulle leading the Armistice Day parade,” he wrote in a letter to his...

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Notre-Dame de Paris: Eight Centuries of History

From the birth of the project to the finishing touches, the documentary Notre-Dame de Paris, The Secrets of the Builders looks back at the life of this architectural gem on Ile de la Cité in Paris, using animated images in a blend of historical facts and fictional anecdotes. We talked with director Emmanuel Blanchard to find out more. France-Amérique: You condensed...

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The Forgotten French Pioneers of the American Frontier

We have heard of officers Lewis and Clark and their expedition across the Rockies in 1804-1806. But who remembers Toussaint Charbonneau, their French-speaking guide? Or Pierre Gambie, an interpreter working with the Timucua tribe in Florida during the 1560s? America’s French past has been hidden, according to historian Gilles Havard, research director at the CNRS and author of a book...

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Frenchtown: The Forgotten History of Los Angeles’ French Community

Vineyards, sheep, dirt roads, and French restaurants. Welcome to Los Angeles in 1870. At the time, the future megalopolis was little more than a town of 10,000 inhabitants where French was the most spoken language after Spanish! A forgotten chapter revived by an amateur historian who has recently begun offering walking tours in the footsteps of L.A.’s French community. The...

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The Bonfire of Destiny, a Parisian Disaster on Netflix

One of the biggest fires in the 19th century has inspired a series coproduced by French television network TF1 and Netflix, streaming in the United States since December 26. In Paris during the Belle Epoque, the Bazar de la Charité sale organized by the Baron de Mackau was an annual get-together for the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. Women in hoop...

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The French-Canadian Conspiracy to Invade the United States

Between 1840 and 1930, a million French-speaking Canadians crossed the U.S. border, many seeking work in the textile mills of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This wave of migration scared the United States, argues researcher David Vermette, a Massachusetts native, in his book, A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco‑Americans. Newspapers ran violent articles against French-Canadian...

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When New York Was Called Angoulême

Before being colonized by the Dutch, who renamed it New Amsterdam in 1624, New York was actually called Angoulême. Forgotten by the history books, this homage to King Francis I, Count of Angoulême, was revealed in 1950 in a thesis by historian Jacques Habert. An investigation-style documentary looks back over this French odyssey in America. A former officer from the...

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On the Trail of French-Speaking Migrants in North America

We know everything about Jacques Cartier, the French sailor who discovered the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada in 1534. But we know far less about the other Francophones who settled in North America from the 17th century onwards. This is the ambitious objective of a transatlantic research project set to finish in 2026. Des Moines in Iowa, Traverse City...

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When the Free French Forces Trained in the U.S.

During World War II, more than 4,000 French pilots, navigators, radio operators, machine-gunners, bombardiers, and mechanics were trained in the United States. A little-known chapter in the history of the French Air Force. Boston, June 23, 1943. The French soldiers disembarking from the U.S.S. West Point were ashen-faced, having spent two weeks aboard a luxury ocean liner that had been...

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Liberating the City of Light: Dispatch from an American Journalist

The first American soldiers entered the recently liberated city of Paris 75 years ago on August 25, 1944. They were accompanied by the renowned war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Ernest Taylor Pyle was 44 when he set foot in liberated Paris, almost twice the age of the soldiers he was with. Originally from Dana, Indiana, he was bald and weighed less...

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Conneaut Hosts D-Day in Ohio

Every August, a little town in Ohio hosts the world’s biggest reenactment of the Normandy Landings. More than 2,000 armed and uniformed volunteers will be taking part in this year’s edition from August 15 through 17. On the shores of Lake Erie, the sandy beach by the little town of Conneaut is somewhat similar to Omaha Beach. Wooden obstacles painted...

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The 177 French Soldiers of D-Day

The D-Day Landings on the Normandy beaches took place on June 6, 1944, led by 57,500 American soldiers, 58,815 Brits, 21,400 Canadians, and just 177 Frenchmen! A tiny but elite commando force the history books have long forgotten. “Action stations, 0430 hours, the last coffee before France. The night is drawing to an end, we are stunned by the sight...

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Simon Pagenaud: History of a French Come-Back at Indianapolis

Simon Pagenaud won the Indianapolis 500, the most renowned car race in the United States, on Sunday May 26. He is the first French driver to claim victory for over a century. The last time a French driver was at the top of the podium in Indianapolis, World War I had not yet begun and protective gear consisted of a...