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Tag: History

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Heritage: We Must Save Our Old Stones!

For the European Heritage Days on September 15 and 16, 2018, France will organize a lottery whose proceeds will help restore endangered historical sites throughout France. Thousands of monuments in rural areas or small communities across France are falling into disrepair, including bridges and garrets, abbeys and fountains, theatres and synagogues, factories, ramparts, orangeries, greenhouses, windmills, viaducts, châteaux, and hundreds of...

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France and the United States From Liberation to Exasperation

How did Americans go, in the mind of the French, from gum-chewing liberators to Coke-swilling invaders? A U.S. historian and a French cheesemonger examined this transformation in a book published this summer. During the Liberation, American GIs used calvados brandy to fuel their Zippo lighters. In 1948, the French communist party called for a boycott of the American soda giant, accusing...

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How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Marcel Proust

At the turn of the 19th century, three celebrities of their day reigned supreme in the uppermost crust of Paris. These three women, Madame de Chevigné, Straus, and Greffuhle, are important to us today not because of their status but because they inspired the pen and passion of Marcel Proust. The famed author conflated their characteristics to create the fictional...

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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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Flying Free: U.S. Pilots Saved by the Normans

American fighter planes and bombers supported the Allies in the Battle of Normandy from June through August 1944. During the war, some 2,700 pilots were forced to execute an emergency landing. Local inhabitants came to their rescue, and the soldiers were instructed to blend in with the French until the country was liberated. One such aviator, Major McLeod, went on...

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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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Two Bikers Ride Across America for the Armistice

Two French bikers have decided to cross the United States on a 1918 Harley-Davidson that first arrived in France with American troops in World War I. The two Frenchmen thunder down Interstate 65 on the way to Chicago. Pierre Lauvergeat leads the way at 55mph on a hundred-year-old Harley Davidson. His traveling companion Christophe de Goulaine follows closely behind in...

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What Do We Celebrate on Bastille Day?

The French do not celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day; they may not even know what it means. Americans, on the other hand, are familiar with what they call Bastille Day, an expression that, strangely, does not exist in French. This enthusiasm for the Storming of the Bastille is not shared by all French people — the Revolution,...[Subscriber]

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld: “We Will Keep Fighting as Long as We Are Alive”

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have spent their lives hunting former Nazis, war criminals, and high-ranking officials of the Vichy regime. France-Amérique met with these “militants of memory,” 82 and 79 respectively, while they were promoting the English publication of their autobiography, Hunting the Truth. “He was over 6 ft. 5 and had a revolver in his pocket. I was also...

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1918, the Beginnings of Jazz in France

During World War I, Afro-American musicians posted to France popularized a new form of music. This “syncopated ragtime” was the beginning of jazz. An exhibition organized at the New Orleans Jazz Museum through November 15, 2018, takes a look back over this period. “Here, on February 12, 1918, the first jazz concert was played on European soil.” This declaration is...

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From New York to Paris… by Car!

As part of the 110th anniversary of the legendary New York-Paris automobile race, six vintage vehicles will be leaving Rhinebeck, New York on June 20. The first stop is in Oakland, California, before they make their way to France! The roaring of the eight-cylinder engine drowns out any conversation at the start of the phone interview. On the other end of...

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Images: French-American Friendship in the 19th Century

A major collection of rare objects exhibited at the Château de Chantilly in France through June 30 retraces a century of Franco-American relations. Franco-American friendship is far more than just the War of Independence! The exhibition America ! La Maison d’Orléans et les Etats-Unis looks back over the transatlantic exchanges of the 19th century, a lesser-known period of Franco-American history but...

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Building Roads Through French-Speaking New England

A tourist route linking French-speaking cities in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island will be inaugurated at the end of the summer in 2019. What do Lewiston and Biddeford in Maine, Manchester in New Hampshire, and Woonsocket in Rhode Island all have in common? More than half of the populations of these American cities spoke French just a century...

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The Hundred-Year Anniversary of the Battle of Cantigny

This weekend will see France and the United States commemorate the hundred-year anniversary of the Battle of Cantigny, named after a little village in the Somme. This particular event was one of many during World War 1, but marked the first U.S. military offensive in Europe. Some 199 American soldiers were killed during the Battle of Cantigny between May 28...

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A Memorial for Guadeloupe Slaves Becomes a Flashpoint for France’s Colonial Legacy

In the Caribbean, the French island of Guadeloupe is celebrating this year the 170th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. The former colony, however, is still struggling with unresolved social and economic grievances with France. A memorial for the slaves, inaugurated in 2015, has become a flashpoint for France's colonial legacy. Read more at The Atlantic.  

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Such a Pretty Month of May

The demonstrations of May 1968, fifty years ago this month, brought a moral metamorphosis such as France had not known since the Romantic era. Fifty years ago in Paris, the weather was beautiful. Everyone who participated in what has since been called "the events" at least has this memory in common. Evenings were particularly mild and seemingly endless on the...[Subscriber]

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May ’68: All Power to the Slogans!

Whether scribbled on tables, put up on posters in the streets, or chanted during protests, the slogans from May ’68 have become a part of French popular culture. As part of the 50th anniversary of the “events,” a collection of the slogans has been translated into English and published by the MIT Press. The spirit of May ’68 may have...

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A Stroll Through Versailles During the Time of Kings

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Court of Versailles was open to the public and welcomed artists, ambassadors, and diplomats from all over the world. The "Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789)" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York until July 29 offers the chance to walk in these visitors’ shoes. In 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of royal...

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The French Tradition of Striking

The French once expressed their discontent by putting up barricades. Today, they go on strike. It is true that barricades have not been seen in Paris since May 1968. Charles de Gaulle, who was president at the time, decided to remove the cobblestones and cover the streets with asphalt instead. No more stones, no more barricades. But going head to...[Subscriber]

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Iconic: The Escape Scarf

Before becoming a collector’s item, silk scarves adorned with map prints were actually distributed in World War II to allied pilots, who would hide them under their collars and use them to find their way through occupied territory. In 1939, the British secret service created a covert organization — MI9 — responsible for giving Royal Air Force pilots flying over...

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A Documentary on the French Giant of American Wrestling

Frenchman André René Roussimoff was worshipped in the United States as the greatest wrestler in living memory. He passed away in 1993, and remains a figure shrouded in mystery. In an HBO documentary beginning on April 10, American director Jason Hehir offers an intimate portrayal of the man everyone knew as "André the Giant." Twenty-five years following his death, André...