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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 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 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...

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Edgar Degas, an Impressionist in New Orleans

Edgar Degas is renowned for his paintings of young ballet dancers and horse races, and his series depicting women ironing. A lesser known painting is that of New Orleans. He travelled to the city in 1872 to see the American side of his mother’s family, who worked as cotton and textile merchants. The painter saw this six-month stay as a...

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From Connecticut to Normandy: The Planes of D-Day Take to the Skies

Ten World War II cargo planes took off from an airfield in Connecticut last Sunday morning. They will fly across the Atlantic and drop several hundred parachutists over Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 1944 landings. D-Day Doll is almost 76 years old but purrs like she has just come out of the Douglas factory in Santa Monica,...

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A French Geographer in Search of Lafayette in the United States

A young French history and geography buff is undertaking a project to map and signpost the 5,000 miles of the Marquis de Lafayette’s 1824-1825 tour across America. His work has already received the support of Emmanuel Macron and the White House, and his initiative is being put before the New Hampshire Senate this Thursday. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette,...

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Concorde, a Transatlantic Cruise at 1,350 mph

On March 2, 1969, the Concorde took off from Toulouse airport for its first flight. Fifty years later, the supersonic plane has been honored in a coffee table book by American designer Lawrence Azerrad. The work features 200 pieces from the author’s collection of postcards, brochures, matchbooks, and other Concorde products. The Concorde plane could cross the Atlantic in three and...

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Bessie Coleman: Black Wings Over France

On June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world’s first Afro-American woman pilot. At a time when no school in America was ready to admit a colored student, she earned her license from Le Crotoy in Northern France. Seen today as a pioneer of emancipation of women and Blacks, Bessie Coleman is a legend in the United States. In 1915,...

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The Merci Train, a Locomotive Built on French-American Goodwill

The cane used by the Marquis de La Fayette, 49 Sèvres porcelain vases, a silk wedding dress, and toy soldiers belonging to a ten-year-old boy. These were just a few of the objects gifted to the United States in a convoy of transatlantic solidarity organized after World War II: the French Gratitude Train. Seventy years ago on February 3, 1949,...

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Gallipolis, a French Utopia on the Banks of the Ohio River

One thousand French people fled to the United States after the Revolution, aghast at being stripped of their privileges and sensing the imminent arrival of the Reign of Terror. Championing the philosophy of the Lumières and its idyllic vision of the New World, they founded the Gallipolis colony on the banks of the Ohio River — a Garden of Eden,...

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The Invention of Santa Claus: From Thomas Nast to Coca-Cola

Père Janvier, Father Christmas, Christkindl, Santa Claus… Whatever name you happen to give him, Father Christmas and his origins still spur controversy. Coca-Cola may have claimed ownership of the symbol and widely circulated the image of a bearded and smiling Father Christmas, yet the brand didn’t actually invent anything. Much earlier, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) fashioned Father Christmas’s...

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The Hello Girls, the Voice of the U.S. Army in France

The first women recruited by the U.S. Army were equipped with helmets and gasmasks just like their male counterparts, but they were armed with telephones. Some 223 French-speaking American women served as switchboard operators during World War I. Nicknamed the “Hello Girls,” they acted as a link between the front line and the rear guard and between French and American...

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1918-1926: The Never-Ending War

La Paix Impossible is the sixth instalment of the Apocalypse history documentary series on 20th-century military conflicts. Produced using nothing but restored color footage, the two 45-minute episodes depict the interwar period (1918-1926) and the rise of nationalism. A film by Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle, narrated by Mathieu Kassovitz. Interview. France-Amérique: Why have you called the 1918-1926 period "la...

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Versailles’ American Splendor

The Château de Versailles is a symbol of French excellence in the arts, emblematic of absolute power and the height of the monarchy’s reign. But it actually owes part of its current grandeur and beauty to a number of Americans who financed its restoration throughout the 20th century. "What I must do is not what other people do, but what...[Subscriber]

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1900, the Birth of the Parisian Myth

The City of Light was at its peak in 1900. The Alexandre III Bridge, Orsay Station, the World’s Fair, and the first subway line were all inaugurated. An exhibition on Paris from the Belle Epoque era, initially presented at the Petit Palais, is opening on June 8 at the Portland, Oregon, Art Museum. For France-Amérique, Cécilie Champy-Vinas, curator at the...

Sergeant York Gets His Very Own Comic Book

An avenue in Manhattan bears his name, but who really remembers Sergeant York, the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War I? He proved his mettle in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, whose 100th anniversary is currently being commemorated, and is now the subject of a comic book published by Association of the United States Army. On October 8, 1918,...

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The Birth of U.S. Naval Aviation on the Ile d’Oléron

On August 20, 2018, Ile d’Oléron (in the Charente-Maritime département) will be paying homage to the 383 U.S. soldiers who lived on the island during World War I. Posted more than 400 miles from the trenches, these pilots, sailors, and mechanics from the U.S. Navy were tasked with defending the French coast against German submarines. Located on the Atlantic Ocean...

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Yann Castelnot, Remembering Native Veterans

Frenchman Yann Castelnot, a Quebec-based amateur historian, has identified thousands of indigenous soldiers who fought for Canada and the United States since the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century. In recognition of his archiving work he received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Province of Quebec and was congratulated by the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs. Exactly...

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French-American Commercial Feuds (3/5): Freedom Fries Flout the French

Franco-American history features a number of commercial and diplomatic disputes, from the “chicken war” in the 1960s to Donald Trump’s recent declarations about taxing steel and aluminum imported from Europe. With its boycotts and protectionist policies, we explore these conflicts through five episodes looking at the history of certain controversial products. Episode 3: Freedom Fries Flout the French The United...