Remembering D-Day, 78 years later

D-DAY  -  JUNE 6, 1944 : "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you... I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!" --Dwight D. Eisenhower

Such were the words of General Eisenhower as the troops headed off for the greatest amphibian landing ever. FUSAC remembers their sacrifice today on the 78th anniversary.

Thank you veterans.

Once all the hullabaloo of the 78th anniversary dies down and the dignitaries leave visit the D-Day beaches with a base in Bayeux. It's a sort of pilgrimage and a moving experience even if you don't have a direct connection to the event. It is one of those places you have to visit at least once in your life.…

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Laughter in France

Laughter is the best medicine they say. Reflections on laughter in France, the land of La Vache qui rit! La Vache, by the way, has her own maison and museum in Lons-le-Saunier and she just celebrated 100 years in 2021.

The city of Bordeaux seems to be the center of laughter in France

One might say Bordeaux likes to laugh more than elsewhere in France. The city is host to the Festival Les Fous Rires de Bordeaux 19-27 March 2022 http://lesfousriresdebordeaux.fr/ and even presented an exhibition "Rire!" at their science and nature Muséum. But Bordeaux doesn't own the market there are many other spots are also holding festivals in 2021-2022, for some funny reason most are in March!

Festival d'Humour de Paris https://festivaldhumourdeparis.com/ Le Printemps du Rire in Toulouse 11 March - 10 April https://leprintempsdurire.com/ Festival Mont-Blanc d'Humour https://www.saintgervais.com/activites-et-evenements/les-grands-evenemen…
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Get Out of Town to Cergy-Pontoise and La Défense

The connection between Cergy-Pontoise and La Défense Sometimes getting out of town means just going to the suburbs. Here's two daytrips Cergy-Pontoise and La Défense, both just outside Paris to the west that are linked by monumental art, villes nouvelles construction and that you can see one from the other. L'Axe majeur at Cergy-Pontoise In the 1960s, faced with the fast development of Paris and its suburbs which lead to a housing crisis and people living in shantytowns, it was decided to control and balance the developement by creating several new cities around Paris. These were Évry, Cergy-Pontoise, Marne-la-Vallée, Sénart and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. There were some smaller projects too like our town center in Villepreux. The site chosen for Cergy-Pontoise was selected for its interesting and unusual landscape which is around and above a meander in the Oise River. The town was created in an amphitheater around the curve of water. The horseshoe shape gave it a unique …
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Who was Christopher Oberkampf?

Oberkampf. You know the metro station, which was named for the street. The street was named for Christopher-Philip Oberkampf in 1864. But do you know who Oberkampf was and why there is a street named after him?

Christopher was a German Protestant immigrant to France in the 1700s under the Ancien Regime. He was a man who climbed the social and financial ladder by his own grit. He came from Germany and spoke only German when he arrived in Paris as a trained, but young, textile printer and dyer. He died a millionaire, head of an empire of 1300 workers and fashion trend-setter. The odds were against him, but his tenacity, creativity, technique, innovation, intuition and thick skin makes him one of the best immigration success stories in history. And that's why Paris has a street, metro and neighborhood named after him. But in fact though he did not live and work in Paris but in the nearby (now) suburb of Jouy-en-Josas. You probably know this town as the location …

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Get out of Town: Parc de Saint Cloud

Bike or run the Parc de Saint Cloud and Bois de Boulogne Sometimes getting out of town means just going to the end of the metro line. There are really nice places to explore just beyond the edge of Paris in the banlieue*. Here's a super bike ride or run of about 10km that takes you through the Bois de Boulogne, across the Seine on the Aqueduct de l'Avre footbridge,  through the Parc de Saint Cloud, past the Cité de la Céramique to end at the Pont de Sèvres metro station in Boulogne. Starting from the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois, head down avenue Mahatma Gandi then turn left on the bike path heading south. This bike path starts on the right side of Allée de la Reine Marguerite. Continue on the bike path past the Rose Gardens of Bagatelle, follow the bike path and it's wiggles through the intersection of la Grande Cascade and continue towards the Longchamp hippodrome. Circle around to the right the south end of Longchamp on Route de la Seine À la Butte Mortemart. Pa…
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Get out of town to Bordeaux

Bordeaux. Nice. City. It took us way too long to get there for a visit. We had a lovely time there over 5 nights. There's a lot to see and it seems like a very liveable place. I would seriously consider it if I were planning to move. Great bikes paths which will be even better once some of the many construction sites are done, lots to do, lots of culture, a great river front walk and a really nice mixture of old/historic and new.

One of the new masterpieces is the Cité du Vin leading the gentrification of the area called “Le Quartier des bassins à flots” or wet docks.

The ceiling of the Cité du Vin's panoramic view tasting bar

The Cite du Vin is a new generation cultural center, unique in the world they say, and, obviously, focused on all aspects of wine. Wine is presented in its cultural framework, its relationship to civilization, scientifically and agriculturally, its heritage and history and the future. The Cité is a cultu…

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The Seine – A fleuve, part 1

A specific word in French indicates rivers that end in oceans : fleuve. Getting my hair cut the other day in Boulogne Billancourt not far from the Seine I asked my coiffeuse, an immigrant like myself, if she knew anything about the Seine. « I know it’s a floose » she replied. Everyone in the salon erupted in laughter. This fleuve is no floose. Traversing Paris under 37 bridges on it’s 776 kilometer run from a plateau north of Dijon to the English Channel at Le Havre, the Seine, steeped in history with a capital H, is one of five principal ocean-flowing rivers in France. The Loire is the longest at 1010 kilometers. La Garonne, Le Rhône and Le Rhin are the others. Until joined by the tributary Aube, the river carries the first of its noms-de-fleuve, the Petite-Seine. Farther on, augmented again by the Yonne at Montereau, it is the Haute-Seine until Paris. Then it is the Basse-Seine to Rouen and, finally, the Seine-Maritime to the sweep of the sea. The Seine everybody sees is in …
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Saint Denis: Two types of kings

Follow the red line from the sacred to the profane in the town of Saint Denis where there are two types of kings; from the Basilique Saint Denis, the burial place of the kings of France to the Stade de France where the kings of football play.

The metro runs to the foot of the Basilica then there is a red line traced on the sidewalks between these two monuments so you won't get lost in the spaghetti of Saint Denis and the autoroutes. From the Stade de France there are a choice of well marked metros to get you back home or you can continue to walk along the Canal Saint Denis to Porte de la Villette.

Take an audio guide tour of the Basilica and learn about the kings of France, and funerary monuments  as well as Gothic architecture. The Basilica is a major work of Gothic art, this church was the first to place a great importance on light, a symbol of divinity. It was  designed b…

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Rosa Bonheur, Broad with a Brush

Rosa Bonheur, Broad with a Brush

Does the name Rosa Bonheur mean anything to you ? Hint: She was the most well-known female French painter in the 19th century, the first woman painter to receive the Legion of Honor (presented by the Empress Eugenia herself). Still no bells? She painted animals. Still no idea? Well don't feel bad it seems most French people don't know who she is either. In fact despite being French, born in Bordeaux, growing up in Paris and then living in a château with menagerie on the edge of the Fontainbleau forest, she was in fact more well known and her paintings were more appreciated by the English and Americans. She was so famous at the time that Queen Victoria, who had a love for animals as well, requested Rosa visit her. It is even hard to find her paintings in French museums. Many were sold into private collections and some are now seen in American museums. But she is very much worth knowing especially if you have a fondness for animals…

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