More French entrepreneur families

French entrepreneur families are the names you see on the streets and on brands that are familiar they are Inventors and business people. Here's their story.

The Despature Family – Damart Thermolactyl

More than 400 million pieces of Thermolactyl clothing have been sold since its invention in 1953. The story began with the Despature brothers who in 1950 inherited a fabric factory in Roubaix. Textile manufacturing was in decline and the three brothers got to thinking about how to save their business. Inspiration came via their aunt who had rheumatism and who talked about the virtues of triboelectricity (an electric charge generated by friction). The brothers invented a fabric that when in contact with the skin creates electrostatic warmth. It also did not retain dampness. Their invention took off. The first Parisian shop was opened in 1957 and in 1958 the radio station Europe 1 chose Thermolactyl, the first high tech fabric made in France, as one of the most i…

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Interview with American writer Jake Lamar

American writer Jake Lamar visited Bill & Rosa's Book Room on March 12 to discuss his latest novel, Viper’s Dream. He is an American author who has lived in Paris for almost 30 years, he teaches creative writing at Sciences Po and is the author of a memoir, seven novels, numerous essays, reviews and short stories and a play. He is also the recipient of several prestigious prizes, among which the Lyndhurst Prize and France’s Grand Prize for best foreign thriller. This is the first part of our interview with him:

Q: You started out as a journalist for Time Magazine, so my question is, have you always wanted to be a writer and have you always known you wanted to write ficiton?

A: I’ve known since the age of 12 that I wanted to be a writer and that I wanted to write fiction. The job at Time Magazine was just a way to make a living as a writer. I went to Harvard and majored in American History and Literature, I wrote for the Harvard Crimson…

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Giving Up U.S. Citizenship: Why and How

Giving Up U.S. Citizenship: Why and How There are many reasons why someone may want to give up their US citizenship. One of them is taxation. 1040 Abroad is here to explain the reasons people give up U.S. citizenship and how to do it. According to the Department of State, 6,705 Americans gave up their citizenship in 2020 alone. Compared to the 2,577 people who gave up their US citizenship in 2019, that number has increased by 260%. The renunciation of citizenship is a means of giving up citizenship that takes effect on the date of the interview at the U.S. consulate. A person who gives up U.S. citizenship will lose many benefits in the U.S., including voting rights, protection from foreign governments, and the ability to pass U.S. citizenship to their children. The main benefit of U.S. citizenship is still the right to live and work in the United States as desired. As a result, people who renounce U.S. citizenship tend to have established lives in their host country. Wh…
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Damon Dominique, Interview with an American Youtuber in Paris

If you are an expat in Paris (or not!) you may well have crossed the path of Youtuber Damon Dominique. He's a world traveler who has somewhat settled in Paris (although he was in NYC when he did this interview!). His videos give insight into travelling experiences in general and living in Paris where he covers the  language, the quest for an apartment or bank account, meeting people... many subjects tackled with a wry and wild sense of humour. His style has many facettes and is not for everyone, but he is certainly not boring and has some interesting tips and observations that he has culled from his personal experience.  He in fact just created a video series French class called "The French I Wish I had Learned in French Class". Again it is from his point of view, as a learner of French, rather than as a teacher of French. It's not dry or boring, plenty of pop culture references, and has a built-in exasperation (a natural part of learning French!). French Course: All The French…
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A Passion for Complication

A slightly adapted excerpt from Demystifying the French: How to Love Them and Make them Love You, published by Winged Words Publishing, 2019. Copyright Janet Hulstrand, all rights reserved.

It’s best, whenever possible, to give the merchant exact change when buying something in France. “I do not know why, but I do know that French people really, really, really want you to give them exact change if you possibly can. They just do,” I tell my students.

This can lead to a confusing situation for Anglophones, because the word for “change” in French is monnaie. So if a French person looks at the money you have given them and says “Vous n’avez pas de monnaie?” you might understandably be confused. After all, haven’t you just given them monnaie?

But no, you see, you have not. You have given them argent, which means, literally “silver,” and is the word used for money. Or you have given them espèce, which means “cash”: but you have not given…

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Planète Gascogne by Perry Taylor

If you are headed to south west France for your summer vacation or if you've already been smitten by the area or if you appreciate rural France you'll get a kick out of the drawings by Perry Taylor - as he interprets life in Gascony through a whimsical British lens.

Perry Taylor was born in Oxford, England. He was a graphic designer and art director at design studios and advertising agencies in London and Amsterdam for 25 years. He now lives with his wife and chickens in the Hautes-Pyrénées, at the edge of the Gers. The tender and amusing observations of this renowned ‘Anglo-Gascon’ artist, capture the spirit of South West France in his warm and witty drawings, that always contain mischievous details of the locals, their lifestyle, culture, heritage and sports. Drawn in Indian ink and watercolor, his pen strokes provoke smiles from the French, who recognize themselves, as well as the international visitors who have discovered this special part of …

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Robert Leroy, Priest and cyclist

French Father Robert Leroy has an interesting way to relax and to connect with his parishioners. He's a priest and cyclist, and has a lovely a sense of humor. He has ridden 600,000km. That's the equivalent of 200 Tours de France, although he doesn't often compete since amateur races are most often scheduled... on Sunday mornings!

One competition he does participate in every year is the Clergy Championship which he has won more than once. Each year on the first of May this fraternal competition brings together anyone who is ordained for a short race of about 60km. About 50 clergy gathered in Brittany for the the 20th edition in 2019. Father Leroy is the only one to have competed in all 20 races.

Father Leroy has been riding his bike for most of his life. He owns 7 or 8 bicycles. It was while riding one day in 1983 that he made the decision to go to seminary.

Le jour où j'ai pris la décision de rentrer au séminaire, c'est la…
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Interview: authors of 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French

FUSAC: You two created 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French, a very popular book that grew out of Shari’s article on the same subject. You have since received, read, listened to, overheard, gathered “becoming French” examples from countless non-native Francophiles, including residents of France, would-be residents, tourists, language teachers, students wishing never to leave, culture mavens and many people who have battled it out with each other in our comments section as to who has racked up more Becoming French badges of honor. But wait! What about YOU? You’ve both been here since the 1980s. It’s Turn the Tables Time! What are several ways that YOU know YOU’ve “become French”? (Or not?)

HAVE NOT BECOME...

Shari Leslie Segall: They say that one’s “formative years” end at the age of two--that after merely twenty-four short months on this earthly orb, you already are who you’re gonna be. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that, since my father …

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French Entrepreneur Families

French entrepreneur families

Some of the most famous brands in France were initially and often still are family businesses. A few even headed by women! Meet five historic French entrepreneur families.

The Haviland family: Haviland Porcelain

This family is a real franco-american immigration tale! A Norman family since the time of the English invasion, they left France for the US in 1648 to join the Quaker colony in Providence, RI, then generations later a certain David returned to France to start producing and exporting porcelain. David's son, Theodore, whose name was backstamped in on the early Haviland porcelain, was born in France in 1842. David was 100% American by several generations and knew no French, nor how to make porcelain. First he exported some porcelain pieces he purchased in France to his brother's shops in NYC. It sold well, so he began actual production in styles that were more adapted to American tastes. Then the US Civi…

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