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February 2024

Laying the Tracks of French-American Friendship

All aboard! This February, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the French Gratitude Train, also known as the “Merci Train” – a convoy of 49 boxcars that brought 250 tons of gifts to the United States as a thank-you after the liberation of France in World War II. Also in this issue: The Champs-Elysées get a royal makeover ahead of the Paris Olympics; Barnard College researcher and professor Séverine Autesserre looks for better ways to build peace; French photographer Maxime Riché travels to Paradise to meet with survivors of the California megafire; and writer Nicolas Mathieu looks back on his Villa Albertine residency in the American South!

Featured Articles

HERITAGE

THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN

of the Champs-Élysées

Abandoned by locals and awash with tourists and international retailers, the world’s most beautiful avenue is refusing to become the Paris equivalent of Times Square. Made famous by cultural references such as the song by French-American crooner Joe Dassin and the movie Breathless starring Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, it is now getting a makeover in the run-up to the 2024 Olympic Games.

By Jean-Gabriel Fredet

HISTORY

EUGENE BULLARD

A Pilot’s Struggle for Freedom

He flew for liberty, equality, and fraternity. This grandson of Georgia slaves volunteered for the Foreign Legion during World War I and became the first African American fighter pilot, a hero of French aviation – before being disgraced, sidelined, and forgotten by his native country.

By Diane de Vignemont

PORTFOLIO

MAXIME RICHÉ

Colors of the Flames

From 2020 to 2021, the French photographer documented the ravages of megafires in Paradise, California. The stunning landscapes shot on infrared film and the unflinching portraits of the town’s survivors, available in a forthcoming book, reflect his singular perspective on a climate disaster that has also wreaked havoc in France.

By Jonas Cuénin

ANNIVERSARY

THE MERCI TRAIN

Laying the Tracks of French-American Friendship

A granite plaque used to be set into Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes, a former testament to its passage down this avenue. But who still remembers the “Merci Train,” sent by France to the United States 75 years ago? Between World War II and the Cold War, this convoy of symbolic gifts renewed cultural diplomacy between our two countries.

By Diane de Vignemont

Table of contents

FROM THE NEWSDESK

Immigration Legislation Sparks Political Crisis for the Macron Administration. By Anthony Bulger

COME ON OUT

French Cultural Events in North America. By Tracy Kendrick

EDITORIAL

Two Countries Separated by One Small Step. By Guy Sorman

INTERVIEW

Séverine Autesserre, the Peacebuilder. By Guy Sorman

THE OBSERVER

Le Donut, Le Street Food, and Other Signs of the Times. By Anthony Bulger

HERITAGE

The Triumphant Return of the Champs-Elysées. By Jean-Gabriel Fredet

HISTORY

Eugene Bullard: A Pilot’s Struggle for Freedom. By Diane de Vignemont

PORTFOLIO

Maxime Riché: Colors of the Flames. By Jonas Cuénin

ANNIVERSARY

The Merci Train, Laying the Tracks of French-American Friendship. By Diane de Vignemont

BOOKS

Nicolas Mathieu, from the Grand Est to the Deep South. By Sophie Joubert

BOOK REVIEW

Pascale Robert-Diard: Autopsy of a Lie. By Sophie Joubert

THE WORDSMITH

Singing the Banlieue Blues. By Dominique Mataillet

© Maxime Riché

The best of French culture

Published in a bilingual format, France-Amérique Magazine is intended for anyone interested in French culture and Franco-American friendship.

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