New Hampshire PoutineFest: A Celebration of All Things Poutine

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

What is Poutine?

 

Poutine, a traditional Québécois dish, deliciously combines French fries and cheese curds, smothered in brown gravy. Invented in rural Québec in the 1950s, poutine has become a staple of not only Québec cuisine but also Canadian and Northern U.S. cuisines as well. Originally, poutine did not include the gravy; in 1964, however, gravy was introduced and has never left. 

 

Who Made it First?

 

Claims to who invented poutine are fairly diverse and widely disputed among local Québec restaurants. The most known story is that a customer at the restaurant “Le Lutin Qui Rit” requested that the chef add cheese curds to his French fry dish in 1957. Despite this claim, the actual trademark for poutine is registered to Jean-Paul Roy, who owned the restaurant “Le Roy Jucep.” Roy was the first to serve the French fry dish with gravy. Another proposal is that people in Québec just developed the dish on their own, purchasing cheese curds and dumping them onto their fries. Wherever it originated, poutine is certainly a delicious Québécois staple. 

 

Variations on Poutine

 

Many restaurants have experimented with poutine toppings in recent decades. Some poutine-serving diners have variations of poutine that include meat toppings, such as chicken, brisket, or sausage. The most recent trend in poutine is fusion variations, which take traditional foods from other cultures and meld them with the traditional poutine. Some examples include Haitian, Greek, and even Japanese fusion. This trend has arisen because of the large number of immigrants coming to Québec City and Montreal, which allows the cultures to come in contact with and influence each other. 

 

Around holidays, some diners may offer seasonal variations on poutine as well. Perhaps the most well-known holiday variation is Thanksgiving poutine, which is often served in November. This variation is topped with traditional toppings like turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. These offers are typically promotional and will not stick around for a long period. 

 

For a healthier option, some alternatives have arisen from traditional poutine. For example, one can substitute French fries for sweet potatoes. This would provide a healthier option to the carb-heavy base of the staple. Another option is using mozzarella cheese instead of cheese curds. Mozzarella is often considered a healthier, more low-fat cheese and thus is often used as a substitute for fattier cheese. 

 

What is PoutineFest?

 

PoutineFest is a state-wide celebration of this devious Québécois staple. Organized by the FAC of New Hampshire, PoutineFest has been celebrating poutine in New Hampshire for 6 years. Every year, people gather together to tour local poutine-serving diners and have a day of family-fun. This year, tickets have already sold out for the Halloween-themed event, which will take place on October 23rd. After missing out in 2020, FAC is ecstatic to return with the 2021 Poutine Fest!!

The Greatest Con in History!

Written by Jasmine Grace,
High School Intern

Built in 1889 for the Paris World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was meant to be torn down in 1909. But it became a popular cultural symbol, and its height made it a valuable radio tower in WWI.  For these reasons, it stood tall for years after 1909. Though by 1925, a period of economic hardship after WWI, the tower needed costly maintenance.  Some wondered if it was finally time to take down the tower.

 

Introducing Victor Lustig

When career con artist Victor Lustig read about this in the newspaper, he was inspired!  He came up with what would arguably become the biggest con in history.

Lustig told so many lies and had so many aliases across the world, it’s hard to tell truth from fiction about his early life. Most sources agree he was born and raised in Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic) and fluently spoke five languages. He was very clever.  He had the opportunity for higher education, but found a life of crime to be more satisfying. Lustig spent years conning rich passengers aboard Atlantic cruise ships.  He also ran several jobs across Europe and America before the Eiffel Tower Con that would make him infamous.

He began by calling up the top five representatives in the Parisian metal industry. He claimed to be a government worker auctioning off the Eiffel Tower for scrap. Of course, the tower wasn’t actually being sold for scrap, so he told them that this was a controversial decision, and not to tell anyone about it for now.

They all met at the famous Hôtel de Crillon, where Lustig took them to lunch, and went to see the tower he would ‘sell’ them. Coincidentally, there were maintenance crews there, and Lustig told the businessmen that they were preparing the tower for demolition.

 

One born every minute!

The representatives thought it had been a business meeting, but Lustig had been looking for his mark. And after that very first meeting, he found a perfectly gullible candidate: André Poisson, an ambitious man desperate to make his mark in the Paris industry.

Lustig approached him, and Poisson admitted he was a little skeptical about the purchase. So Lustig took young Poisson into his confidence and told him he was merely an underpaid employee of the government.  Lustig told Poisson that, for a little extra cash, he’d guarantee Poisson would win the auction.

This won Poisson over. No one would imagine a con man would ask for a bribe, but a dirty government worker might. He paid Lustig’s price for the tower in addition to the bribe.

As soon as Lustig had the money, he boarded a train to Vienna.  He hid there and waited for his scam to be found out.

But as the days turned into weeks, he still hadn’t heard news of a scam involving the Eiffel Tower.  He then realized he would never be discovered.

It turned out that when Poisson realized he was conned; he was so embarrassed he kept it to himself, and no one knew about Lustig’s clever scam.

And about a month later, Lustig pulled the scam again. He spoke to five more businessmen and gave the same pitch.

But this time his mark did some homework and discovered the tower wasn’t actually for sale.

Lustig didn’t get away with the money. However, he didn’t get caught then, and French officials never caught up with him.

 

The law catches up

American law, however, caught up with him eventually. He had run many scams in the States before, even conning Al Capone, and had been arrested over 50 times. But there was never quite enough evidence to hold him.

Yet, over time, he had circulated so many counterfeit bills that the US economy was beginning to feel the effects.  This made officials hunt for him even harder.

As with most con artists, it was greed that got him in the end. It wasn’t greed for money that got him into trouble, though. His girlfriend found out that she was being cheated on and left an anonymous tip with the authorities. That was enough to get Lustig locked up in Alcatraz.

Le Jardin du Luxembourg & Parisian Beauty

 

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

Palazzo Pitti

The Luxembourg Garden, Le Jardin du Luxembourg, is an iconic Parisian monument that boasts over 25 hectares of land. Within those 25 hectares (or about 62 acres) of land, the park hosts statues, fountains, tennis courts, flowerbeds, ponds, and even a theatre! The Luxembourg Garden is without a doubt among the most extravagant gardens in the modern world; designed to reflect the Palazzo Pitti of Florence, the gardens mark the luxurious lifestyle of the old French monarchy and elite class. Although designed to imitate Italian architecture and design, the French location has thoroughly impacted the aesthetics of the garden throughout the years.

 

The Origins

When King Henri IV was assassinated in 1610, his wife, Marie de Midicis, ordered the construction of the Luxembourg Garden. Burdened by the memory of her husband, Marie de Midicis grew tired of the Louvre, which then acted as a palace for the monarchy, and desired a fresh start. Marie’s fresh start manifested as an entirely new palace: the Palais du Luxembourg. Surrounded by the now-famous Luxembourg Gardens, the palace and estate were designed to imitate the Palazzo Pitti, Marie’s childhood home. Completed in 1625, the original gardens were only eight hectares in size, but continued to expand until 1790. One of the lead gardeners on the job was Tommaso Francini, who designed two of the terraces along with the Palais du Luxembourg and constructed the Medici Fountain, the most famous fountain in the gardens. 

Luxembourg Gardens

 

Expansions & Renovations

Tuilerie Gardens

In 1630, additional purchases from the government expanded the size of the Luxembourg gardens . This expansion project was guided under the direction of Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie. Baraduderies had previously worked on the gardens of Chateau Versailles and in the Tuileries Gardens. Imitating earlier French styles, Baraduderies created a system of geometric gardens and attractions. Perhaps the most notable of these was the octagonal fountain constructed in the center of the new gardens. To this day, children use this fountain for activities such as model boat racing. After these additions, the gardens were largely ignored throughout the reign of the next few monarchs. In 1780, King Louis XVIII sold some lands, about 10 acres, to pay for the restoration of the site. This land was later confiscated following the French Revolution and added to the gardens once more. 

 

Arc de Triomphe

King Louis’ renovations were headed by the famous architect Jean Chalgrin, who was also an architect on the Arc de Triomphe. Chalgrin preserved the older French styles of architecture, even as he added new and increasingly modern elements to the gardens.  Many of the essential sites remained intact, including the nurseries and vineyards. Chalgrin added his own flair, of course, through elements like the addition of a path that lined the length of the garden, from the palace to the observatory. The original terraces are still intact today and line the main path in the Luxembourg Gardens. Statues began to adorn the paths of the gardens in 1848 after the fall of the July Monarchy in France. All of this would change, however, when Paris began to take a different direction under new leadership.

Luxembourg Gardens

 

 

Medici Fountain

Under Napoleon III, the gardens were renovated once more. This time, to put roads through them. One road ran right over the Medici Fountain, which was taken down and reconstructed. To date, the Medici Fountain remains in this new location. Additions were made as well, specifically the ornamental gates and fences, a significant factor in the garden’s elegant aesthetic. These features were constructed by Gabriel Davioud, who had already overseen the construction of many statues throughout the city. Devious also designed the Pavillon Davioud, a brick garden house that strikingly resembled the English style at the time. 

 

Legacy

Example of monument

Once the garden’s many renovations were completed, the site became a harbor for preserving French culture. In particular, statues and models would find homes within the gardens, ranging from busts of famous politicians, poets, or philosophers to a model of the Statue of Liberty. This collection of French cultural hallmarks is ever-expanding. More recently, recreational additions have also been added, including tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, etc. All of this has produced a site that truly exemplifies the Parisian beauty that we have all come to recognize. 

World of French: Haiti

Written by Jasmine Grace,
High School Intern 

Prologue

FAC members & friends extend sympathy and solidarity to our afflicted Haitian friends and to the Haitian-American communities who are concerned for their affected relatives and contacts on the island.

Many organizations are working to aid the Haitian recovery effort. For those looking to make a donation, consider these organizations:

Hope for Haiti

Locally Haiti

Haitian Health Foundation

 

Beautiful Haiti

Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola

Mountains dominate the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and hold island valleys, plains, and plateaus. In this tropical landscape lies the nation of Haiti. It is home to incredible people with a unique culture and boasts an impressive history. 

Hispaniola was originally home to the Taíno kingdom before the arrival of Europeans. The Spanish came first and the French joined them. They soon began to fight, and in 1697 Spain gave France the western third of the island. The French turned this land into the colony of Saint Dominique and shipped in African slaves to work the sugarcane and coffee fields. This colony became the wealthiest in the French Empire in the 18th century. 

General Toussaint

By 1791, the slaves who had done all the labor to gain that wealth were tired of their predicament and revolted. They took control of the northern part of the colony and went to war with their former masters. In 1804, they beat the French and gained their independence. They renamed their new nation Haiti, which would become the second oldest republic in the western hemisphere. 

Because of the mixture of native, African, and French influences, modern Haiti is home to a unique culture. Creole and French are the nation’s official languages, and most of the country’s literature is in one of these tongues. Most writers are part of the intellectual elite, so literature often contains leftover French influences. The subject of this literature often relates to the political turmoil or hurricane disasters Haiti has experienced. 

In contrast, the art of Haiti is bright, cleverly humorous, and innovative. Commonly featured on canvas are stunning local landscapes or cultures. Art is often themed or tied to indigenous or African traditions, cultural aspects, or religion.

Tchaka

Another marvelous art in Haiti is the cuisine. As with most other things in Haiti, it is a blend of different cultures and influences. Staples include beans and rice, as well as tropical fruits. Chicken, beef, and goat are common proteins. Foods are often simple, but spicy, with a twist of bold flavors. Some popular dishes include tchaka, a squash and meat stew, and riz national, a rice dish with beans, vegetables, and sometimes fish.

 

 

Although the nation of Haiti has experienced conflict over the years from various sources, it is a beautiful place, geographically and culturally, with a complex history.

A Beautiful Island Nation

The World of French Films

Ana Tunberg, SNHU Intern

 

Please be advised: 

The movies discussed in this article contain scenes of violence and mature content and are meant for mature audiences.

 

Movies at our fingertips

The film industry continues to rapidly expand and evolve.  With the rise of streaming services and technology such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu (just to name a few!) viewers all over the globe can access more international films than ever before. This ease of access has made international and foreign films more popular than ever, including French films!

The Francophone world is wide and varied.  Each of the 80+ French speaking countries has a unique culture and stories to share.  As such, it is impossible to encapsulate all French films in one category.  So, let’s take a peek behind the curtain, or in this case behind the screen, at three recent films to get a taste of the world of French cinema.  Perhaps you will discover a gem for your next movie night (or two… or three…)! 

Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu

The 2019 award-winning drama, Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), is a historical romance set in Victorian France.  It tells the story of a love affair between two women- an aristocrat named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and a painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant).

Héloïse, who does not want to marry, refuses to sit for her wedding portrait.  Her mother therefore commissions Marianne, who poses as a companion for Héloïse, to paint the wedding portrait in secret.  The film uses art as a love language between the two women and the painting carries a symbolic meaning of deep emotions and desires throughout the film.  It immerses the audience in the characters, their relationship, the setting, and everything in between.

The players

 

Adèle Haenel (Héloïse) is a talented and decorated actress who has garnered several nominations.  She has won two César Awards and a Lumières Award as well as accolades at several film festivals.

Noémie Merlant (Marianne) gives a breakout performance in this film for which she received a César Award nomination and won the Lumières Award for best Actress.

Céline Sciamma (writer & director), received several accolades with Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu. The film won the Queer Palm, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, making Sciamma the first woman in history to receive this award. Sciamma also received the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for this film.

Overall, this cathartic historical drama is well worth the watch!

Elle

Adapted from the Novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, Elle is a fast-paced film that goes beyond a story of revenge.  This 2016 award-winning thriller/drama is directed by Paul Verhoeven, has a strong female lead and a killer plot. It will definitely prick the minds of all its viewers.

The Plot

When a video game company CEO, Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is sexually assaulted by a stranger, she does not report it to the police and takes matters into her own hands. The hunt and the characters become more complex as the story moves along, and the psychological thriller aspect of the film comes into play as we follow Michèle on her chase towards avengement.

This film delivers several successful motifs, such as the strong, successful, and determined female character, and the mystery of seeking retribution through a wild chase that constantly flips the roles of predator and prey. Not only does the film present these motifs, but the film also goes even deeper with their meaning to this specific film that gives the audience a lot to think about.

The Star

Isabelle Huppert, considered one of the best actresses of this time, has earned several awards, including the César Award for Best Actress for her role in Elle.

Elle was nominated for many awards including several film festivals.  At the César Awards, Elle earned the prize for Best Film and the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.

This film will not disappoint viewers in giving them quite a ride. 

Antigone

 Antigone is a 2019 French-Canadian film written and directed by Sophie Deraspe.  This gripping, refreshing, and award-winning drama adapts the old play of ancient Greece to the challenges of the modern world to create an artistic look at politics and immigration, and the strength of character and relationships behind these real-world issues.

Refugees from Kabylia called the Hipponomes, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) and her family live in Québec.   Antigone is a straight A student who looks after her more troubled brother Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), who is at risk of being deported. 

 

A Greek Tragedy

Even those familiar with the source material will be surprised by this adaptation as viewers who have never even heard of the Ancient Greek drama. While the movie follows similar plot points and centers on the idea of a woman going against the rules for the greater good, the entire premise of the film changes to a more modern adaptation.  The story focuses on current issues regarding immigrant families and feminism, while also delving into the characters and family dynamics.  This creates an educational, empowering, and artistic film that reaches as many hearts as the original play did.

Accolades

Garnering several nominations, Antigone received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture, and Deraspe received the Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Nahéma Ricci is a young, talented actress whose star is on the rise.  She won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress.

Antigone is a unique and successful adaptation that will impact a variety of viewers. 

Movie Time!

Films are a great way to look into a culture and to educate yourself.  I therefore encourage you, dear reader, to indulge in the art of the screen while watching international films.   Take advantage to the access and availability of French films. Bring the world home with just one click.

 

The Styles of Post-Impressionist Art

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Impressionist art started as a backlash to the unstructured paintings that were prevalent during the Impressionist period. Post-Impressionist art takes the vibrant colors and ideas that the art community was used to in the Impressionist movement and transformed them into a new style by focusing on the structure of the piece rather than the style. This isn’t to say that all pieces from the period were inherently realist. Different artists were still able to put their own personal touch on their artwork and created their own niche in the style, and even influenced other artists to follow their model. Nevertheless, all of the post-Impressionist paintings were alike because they had key artistic aesthetics that set them apart from other movements.  Each artist was able to explore their own styles through the movement because of the acceptance that was had for new forms of art during this period. Eventually, some of the different styles branched off into being key points of their own movements. Veering away from the Impressionist style and embracing the new in post-Impressionist helped the art world continue growing and ever evolving.

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cezanne was the father of the post-Impressionist movement. His paintings focus on vibrant structure. Breaking away from the wispy designs of the Impressionist style and embracing the new structure created a catalyst in the French art world and gave other artists the confidence to try new styles within their art as well. His work was also a beginning in stirring the style of Cubism and Fauvism. Cezanne stepped away from the norm of Impressionism and was able to explore darker tones in a still vibrant and structured way. One of his most famous painting locations was at Mont Sainte-Victoire, which sheltered Cezanne’s hometown. Undeniably a landscape painting, the shadows and shapes seen throughout the many different versions of Cezanne’s famous paintings show the stylistic choices that make each painting unique for the viewer.

 

Paintings by Cézanne

 

Paul Gaugin

Still Life with Three Puppies

Paul Gaugin was another important member of the Post Impressionist movement. Gaugin was also one of the first famous artists to travel far to capture the essence of his paintings.  He studied primitivism and wanted to capture that within his art. His paintings were influential to many members of the art community because of his vibrant use of color, flat planes, and distorted style. In his painting “Still Life with Three Puppies,” the distortion of his style is seen in the two dimensional cups and dogs drinking from the bowl. Even though Gaugin was untrained his unique style and subject matter created a lasting impact on the movement and the future of art history. His pieces had such a vibrant style and impact that they created a lot of stirring in the artistic community of Paris. Gaugin eventually permanently moved to Tahiti in the continuation of focusing on creating art in his unique style.

 

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse had a similar distorted style but focused on abstract subjects. While Paul Gaugin was not fully accepted in the artistic community of Paris, Henri Matisse was. He is still a leading figure in modern art because of his fantastic use of color and personal style. His work also led the way into Fauvism and played a huge role in modern art. The piece below is called The Green Line. Matisse painted this portrait of his wife in an untraditional way by changing the shading away from the norm. He experimented in a lot of his work and was not scared to step out of the status quo in pursuit of his art. This is one of the key themes of post-Impressionist art.

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat was another member of the Post Impressionism movement who had a revolutionary impact on art throughout history. Seurat used an intricate style of pointillism to create the structure in his pieces. Pointillism is a painting technique where tiny dots are used in specific patterns to form an image. George Seurat was one of the first people to capitalize on this technique and do it professionally. Here is an example close up of the composition of his painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”  The dots throughout created a mystical but structured complete design.  Below is the full painting, created all just through a series of dotted patterns!

 

 

 

The Post Impressionist movement was a way for artists to expand their repertoire and embrace art in all of it’s unique forms. By embracing these new styles, the artists created their own niche in art history and for some even led to new movements of art with others embracing the new technique. Paul Cezanne stepped away from Impressionism and in doing so paved the way for others to be even more adventurous than him with their artistic expression. Paul Gaugin spent his life studying new cultures to create unique art. Henri Matisse spent his career finding and embracing his own style, which eventually led into the embrace of Fauvism by the next generation of artists. George Seurat even coined his own movement, Pointillism, and style by taking a risk and studying the intricacy to patterns and light in his paintings. The different styles of Post Impressionism show how important stepping out of a comfort zone is for an artist and for future artists to study.

Musée du Louvre

Chloe Rich,
SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and holds some of the most famous pieces of art. On August 10th, the Louvre Museum will celebrate its 228th year as a museum and on September 11th, Laurence des Cars will be the first woman director of the Louvre. Before opening as an art museum in 1793, the Louvre functioned as a royal palace for more than two centuries. In the year 1546, King Francis I demolished a 12th-century fortress on the land and began construction of a palace that became his residence. 

The Louvre Fortress in 12th Century, built by King Philippe Auguste via My Modern Met

 

King Francis I was a known art collector, causing the palace to double as a house for the King’s collected work, including works by Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. King Francis built a small portion of the Louvre Palace, with construction and expansion continuing under King Henry II, Charles IX, Louis XIV, and almost every subsequent monarch after. With every new monarch came a larger collection of artwork, creating the collection we can see today at the museum. 

 

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre Museum via TakeWalks

So, what artwork makes up the Louvre? The museum houses over 380,000 objects and 35,000 pieces of work in eight departments. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous art piece featured at the museum. It was acquired by King Francis I in 1518 and was moved to the Palace of Versailles in 1682 when King Louis XIV brought it there. It was not until after the French Revolution the Mona Lisa ended up at the Louvre for display.

 

 

Another famous painting featured at the Louvre is Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. In his painting, Delacroix depicts Liberty waving the tricolor flag leading a group of men in the Revolution of France. Delacroix completed the painting in 1830, only a few months after the French Revolution concluded in July. The tricolor flag is the same flag held by militia as they stormed the Bastille and now represents the national flag of France. Delacroix has several other works of art featured at the Louvre.

 

Notable for his depiction of Napoleon’s Coronation, Jacques-Louis David is another must-see at the Paris museum. David is considered the first painter of the Emperor, and his painting Coronation of Napoleon features the event which took place in Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in December of 1804. The painting was brought sometime in 1807 to the Louvre, known then as the Napoleon Museum, and can be found in the Denon wing today. These are a few of the thousands of pieces at the Louvre, so click here if you want to see all the collections at the Louvre. 

 

Not only does the Louvre contain beautiful works of art, but the grounds surrounding the former palace also contain beautiful statues and gardens. In the Louvre’s main courtyard, you can find the Louvre Pyramid, built in 1988. Three smaller ones surrounded the pyramid and had one inverted pyramid beneath it, which can be seen from inside the museum. Architect Ieoh Ming Pei was commissioned to modernize the Louvre in 1983 and built the courtyard pyramid to mimic the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Jardin des Tuileries in Paris France via ParisInfo

 

Beyond the pyramid, visitors at the Louvre can stroll through the Tuileries Garden between the Louvre courtyard, Place de la Concorde, and the Seine River. Le Jardin was constructed alongside a palace in 1564, ordered by Queen Catherin de Médicis. Nowadays, the garden includes walking paths around two ponds. Along the paths, you can find statues built by 20th-century sculptor Aristide Maillol, animal sculptures from August Cain, and contemporary exhibitions by more modern artists. Needless to say, any time spent at Le Musée du Louvre will be time filled with France’s beauty and rich history.

Brief History of Acadian Day & Celebration!

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

August 15th is National Acadian day!  A day when Acadians in both Canada and the US celebrate their heritage and culture! On National Acadian Day people celebrate with Tintamarre; a noisy and colorful event for all to celebrate! In the Canadian Maritime, a grand celebration is held where people parade through their communities with instruments to make noise and celebrate their heritage together.

Today, Acadians live primarily in the Canada’s Maritime provinces and Quebec as well as in the United States, mostly in Maine and Louisiana. This is in part due to colonial wars fought between France and England. After these wars, France ceded most of Acadian land to Great Britain. The Acadians refused to submit to the British Monarchy resulting in The Great Upheaval (1755-1764), where Acadians were deported or went into in hiding.

Why is Acadian Day celebrated August 15th?  When Acadians decided to have a special holiday they debated between Saint-Jean Baptiste Day (French Canadian’s national holiday) on June 24th and the day of Our Lady of Assumption, celebrated on August 15th.   While at the first National Acadian Convention in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1881, our Lady of Assumption was chosen as the patron saint of Acadians.

Overall, Acadian Day celebrates the contribution of Acadians.  To the cultural fabric, their history and cultural specificity in all its joyous diversity.  With fairs, barbeques, festivals and other celebratory events like the Tintamarre, it’s a great day for everyone.

On August 15th, 2021, anyone in the Manchester Area is invited to join the Franco American Centre for our Acadian Family Day Celebration! The event, a picnic, is for Acadians and Acadians at heart to connect here in New Hampshire. Come down to Lafayette Park in Manchester, NH from 11 am to 2pm on August 15th! Bring your own lunch, blanket, and join us in celebrating Acadian Day!

 

Click here to let us know you’re coming!

Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you study at a French-speaking university? If so, most likely your university was a member of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (Agency of French-speaking Universities). The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, or AUF, is an international association of French-speaking universities that seek to promote education in countries with a French-speaking population. Funded by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (International Organization of French-speaking Countries), or OIF, the AUF seeks to promote a sense of community between French-speaking universities around the world. Currently, AUF has 1,007 member universities across 199 countries on six different continents. 

 

Jean-Marc Léger

Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, the AUF has been growing since its inception. The organization was founded in 1959 by Jean-Marc Léger, a Canadian journalist for Le Devoir, and André Bachan, the public relations director for the University of Montreal. The duo proposed a collection of French-speaking universities worldwide to centralize funding and education plans for the Francophone world at large. In September 1961, 150 representatives from different French universities came together and established the Association des Universités Partiellement ou Entièrement de Langue Française (AUPELF, or the Association of Partially or Entirely French-speaking Universities). 

 

Since its beginnings, the AUF has undergone many expansions. The AUPELF was expanded to include the Université des Réseaux d’Expression Français (UREF), which was a program for transfer students that sought to connect universities based on research and education across different Francophone countries. In 1993, six years after UREF’s establishment, AUPELF changed its name to AUPELF-UREF. By 1998, the AUF became known as the AUF as it expanded its reach among the Francophone world. 

 

Because of the massive spread of the AUF, the organization’s structure is extremely important to its coherent function. The association is made of several major bodies of control. The general assembly is the main body of the AUF. Every four years, the general assembly’s 774 members sit to create a systematic plan to reach a set of determined goals. The goals and objectives guide the actions and partnerships of the AUF for the next four years. The Association Council functions as a force to create a sense of unity between the member universities. They meet with representatives from all universities and foster a sense of unity and solidarity that bridges the massive cultural differences. Other university representatives are selected to serve on the board of directors, which combines university and government officials to decide on the organization’s direction and its path towards achieving the four-year objectives. 

 

Université de Montréal

The general assembly elects the AUF President for four-year terms. Among their duties are controlling partnerships, heading the direction of the organization, and ruling the board of directors. The rector is another individual position, elected by the board of directors. Primarily, the rector focuses on implementing the financial obligations and proper funds to the different partners and universities the organization is dealing with. The rector presides over the University Development and cooperation funds. The final body of control is the Scientific Council, which is the body responsible for generating pedagogy and curriculum for the Francophonie universities. Members of the committee are selected for their unique qualifications and experience in the matter of education and seek to better the education of all member universities. Some are selected for their skills in science and technology, while others are selected for their ability to understand and connect across multiple cultures. 

 

Activities in the AUF are classified into four categories: Language and Communication, Economic Development, Scientific Skill Reinforcement, and Education. Language and Communication activities are targeted at supporting the French language via multilingualism and multiculturalism in the universities. They also promote scientific skill development across many categories. These activities direct the curriculum of classes related to language, culture, literature, and education. Economic Development activities are entirely focused on funding the other activities and partnerships of the AUF. Scientific Skill Reinforcement activities bridge the gap between regional offices and scientific departments of the AUF. The most important piece of these activities is to promote scientific research at member universities. Education activities seek to promote research and offer training for teachers and students in high education across the Francophone world. 

 

Partnerships with the AUF are established, along with specific guidelines. First, the partner must help establish

Collège de France

more Francophone universities and give them developmental roles. Second, the partner must seek ties with both the major agencies of the AUF alongside its member universities. Third, the partner must seek to increase development via knowledge sharing, scientific development, or tools for scientific cooperation. The AUF has been asked to partner with the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank on previous occasions. 

 

Mohammed V University for Rabbat

In 2011, the AUF marked its “Golden Anniversary” as its 50th year connecting Francophone universities. As the AUF becomes older, it increases its presence in the education of Francophone students. With over 1,000 member universities, the AUF is helping further the education of millions of students in colleges and universities worldwide. In the coming years, the AUF seeks to continue playing a massive role in the education that occurs with Francophone universities.

Art Movement : Impressionism

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When people think of French Artist one of the first thoughts is of the beautiful natural landscapes of Monet or the humanistic style of Manet. These two amazing artists, as well as so many others, paved the way for French artists to make their mark on the world through the beauty of their paintings and most notably through the Impressionistic Style. The Impressionism movement was popular at the end of the 19th century and focused on small thin brush stroke that meant to create a a juxtaposition between objects and the light touching them. This movement used everyday people, objects, events, and relationships and casted them in a natural light to tell a message to the viewer of the paintings.

 

Female Impressionists: Berthe, Cassatt, and Gonzalès

 

The Impressionism movement was huge for women. Because of past social mores, Women did not have the same access to artistic education that men did. One of the reasons that they could not create a name for themselves before the Impressionism movement was because artists needed to study anatomy to create beautiful paintings of the human form. These nude figure drawing classes were unheard of for women to attend which held them back from realizing the true extent of their talent. With the Impressionism movement, rather than the Neoclassical or Romanticism movement, the subject of the painting was no longer the human form but rather of human interaction with their natural landscapes. The impressionism movement was all about telling a modern story through art. Women were able to branch out and finally join the canon because they were able to put their own spin on art and learn from famous painters without worrying as much about the social stigma.

That is not to say that in the time of Impressionism there were no social rules women of class had to follow. Unmarried Women were expected to always be accompanied by a chaperone when leaving the house, and in the home were expected to be practicing decorative arts like embroidery, drawing, or painting always in the presence of other women. Because it was expected of them, many women spent their time invested in the arts but it was still hard to branch into the movement without the help of other respected artists or their affluent families.

 

Mary Cassatt

One female Impressionist artist, Mary Cassatt, was able to create a name for herself in the Impressionism movement. American born, her and her family moved from Pennsylvania to France in the late 1800s. There she continued practicing her craft and exceeded in exhibiting her work among other Impressionist artists with the help of a new friend, Edgar Degas. Degas is one of the more prevalent Impressionist painters, many of his paintings depicting women in movement. Mary Cassatt created many different intimate paintings of women from a woman’s perspective throughout her artistic career. Most of her more famous paintings depicted the relationship between mother and child that she was able to observe between her sisters and their children. Never having married herself, Mary Cassatt lived with family but created a very strong career for herself that supported her well. Her paintings made it into the Paris Salon many times and she is known as a great Impressionistic painter.

Here are three paintings that showcase Cassatt’s take on the Impressionistic style.

Pictured : Breakfast in Bed, The Child’s Bath, Young Mother Sewing

Eva Gonzalès

Another female Impressionism artist I am going to highlight is Eva Gonzalès. Eva Gonzalès started as a pupil of Édouard Manet. , and she learned a lot of her art style from him. Her style closely mirrored Manet’s Spanish period of art. She painted representations of everyday life, deeply marked with Manet’s guidance and influence. Her work may not be as innovative and bright as other artists like Berthe Morisot or Mary Cassatt’s pieces, but the neutral somber tone of her paintings set Gonzalès apart from others. Even towards the end of his career, when Manet drifted back to color, Gonzalès continued to retain her neutral color scheme, and this individualized her work from other prominent artists. Gonzalès showed the Impressionism movement through her own eyes and learned the craft through her close study with talented artists such as Édouard Manet. She died of childbirth at the height of her career before she could reach her true potential.

Here are two notable paintings Eva Gonzalès completed: Une loge aux Italiens (A Box at the Italian Theater), and Morning Awakening.

 

Pictured : Une loge aux Italiens and Morning Awakening

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot was another famous female artist. She, along with Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond, were a part of a group of three women named “Les Trois Grandes Dames” or “The Three Great Ladies” of the Impressionism movement by critic Henri Focillon. Berthe Morisot was immersed in the artistic community. She was privileged to attend formal schooling for art and was a part of the Paris Salon many times throughout the end of the 19th century. Morisot continued her craft professionally after her marriage to Eugène Manet, Édouard Manet’s brother. Berthe Morisot worked closely alongside her brother-in-law Édouard Manet but continued to incorporate her independent flair into her own art. She focused her paintings on working, sophisticated, and well-dressed Parisian women. They were at the forefront of Berthe Morisot’s work. Throughout her long career, she continued to work freely and independently while showcasing the best aspects of the Impressionistic art style in her unique way.

Here are some vastly different paintings she created throughout her long career as a notable female impressionistic artist. The first is In England , showcasing her husband Eugène. The next painting is The Cradle. Finally, Self Portrait of Morisot.

Pictured : In England, The Cradle, Self Portrait

 

 

 

Cinderella and Other French Fairy Tales

Written by Jasmine Grace,
High School Intern

 

Hans Christian Andersen

Everyone knows at least one of the classic fairy tales. Maybe it’s one of the more popular tales, like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, or a less famous one like Bluebeard. Perhaps you heard your tale as a bedtime story, or maybe you’ve seen Disney’s cartoon version of the tale. You may not have known the writer of these stories wasn’t Disney or Hans Christian Andersen or even the Brothers Grimm, but Frenchman Charles Perrault.

 

Charles Perrault

Perrault began his career as a lawyer and politician and became known for his writing later in life. He was part of L’Académie Française and heavily involved in the Ancients versus Moderns controversy. This 17th-century literary debate in France and England disputed the relevance of classical Greek and Roman writings to the modern era. The Ancients firmly believed classical writing was the exclusive standard for literature. The Moderns, inspired by recent scientific discoveries, believed in the evolution of literature. Perrault was a Modern in this debate. 

 

Perrault eventually made peace with the Ancients. He wrote his fairy tales under his son’s name, or 

Classical Greek

even under the name Mother Goose, so he didn’t upset the Ancients again with his modern writing. He is credited as being the father of the entire fairy tale genre, although he didn’t invent many of the tales he wrote. Most were folktales with ancient origins, and he was the first to collect them and write them on paper. He also aimed these stories at children, telling them in a simplistic yet literary manner, demonstrating his principles as a modern. Neither of these things had been done before. He called this collection Contes de ma Mère L’oye (Tales of Mother Goose). Some of the most remembered stories in this collection include Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Cinderella. By writing these tales on paper, Perrault preserved the 17th-century version of these stories. 

Little Red Riding Hood

The story Cinderella, Cendrillon in French, is an excellent example of a tale that has evolved. It began as a simple rags to riches folktale, likely of Chinese or possibly Egyptian origins. Perrault’s version told of a beautiful and good young woman forced to live with her father’s new wife and her cruel daughters. She slept next to the fireplace and is perpetually covered in cinders, where she gets the nickname Cinderella. One day, the Prince of the region hosts a ball and invites all the ladies so he might find himself a wife. The stepsisters are allowed to go, but tell Cinderella she has to stay home. Cinderella’s godmother takes pity on her and uses her magic wand to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horses, a rat into a driver, and lizards into footmen. She turns Cinderella’s rags and wooden shoes into a splendid ball gown and glass slippers. Then sends Cinderella to the ball with a warning to be back before midnight. At the ball, Cinderella catches the Prince’s eye, and they dance until the clock chimes midnight, and Cinderella runs away as her carriage turns back to a pumpkin, and her dress again becomes a dirty grey kirtle. The Prince throws another ball the next night, and again Cinderella dresses up her stepsisters but isn’t allowed to attend herself. So, her fairy godmother helps her out, and she gets to dance with the Prince once more. But this time, as she runs back home at the stroke of twelve, she’s in such a rush she leaves behind one of her slippers. No one at the ball knows who Cinderella is, so the next day the Prince takes the slipper to every maiden in the countryside to find his mysterious princess. 

 

When he gets to Cinderella’s house, both stepsisters try on the slipper, but it’s too small for them. It’s jokingly suggested Cinderella tries on the slipper, and when she does, it fits perfectly. She shows everyone the other slipper, and the Prince recognizes her as his lovely princess. They get married, and live happily ever after, as king and queen. And because Cinderella is so good and forgiving, she invites her stepsisters to live in the castle. 

 

It was Perrault who added the details of the magical godmother, the pumpkin carriage, and the glass slippers. The next step in the evolution of this tale was when the Brothers Grimm retold the tale in a darker and even more fantastical manner. In their version, the stepmother and stepsisters are crueler than the French version. When the Prince brings the slipper (gold, not glass, in their retelling) to their house, they are so desperate to make it fit, they cut off their toes. And instead of Cinderella inviting them to live in the castle with her happily ever after, she convinces crows to peck out their eyes, cursing them blind for their wickedness. The Brothers Grimm also made this story more fantastical; Cinderella can talk to the birds, and they help her when she needs it. 

 

Disney’s Cinderella

 

To bring this ancient story to a modern audience, Disney made it into a cartoon movie. The movie features the storyline closest to the Brothers Grimm version, but with much less darkness. The animals talk, there’s plenty of singing, and no one cuts off any toes. 

 

None of these magnificent tales would have survived to the modern era if not for Perrault’s preservation and popularization of them, or if others hadn’t adapted them to fit audiences of different times. Today, these tales continue to evolve, with retellings through many lenses.

François Bibonne: The Man Behind Preserving Classical Vietnamese Music

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One man who dreams of telling his grandmother’s story is set to revolutionize Vietnamese music later this year. François Bibonne, a documentary filmmaker from France, has shot and produced a documentary for release next month. The documentary, titled Once Upon a Bridge in Vietnam, seeks to explore classical Vietnamese music throughout time and cement its legacy in history. Bibonne, who holds a master’s degree in Contemporary History, will combine his passions of classical music and film with his family history. Bibonne’s grandmother, a native of Vietnam, will help guide the film’s production. Throughout the later months of 2020, Bibonne traveled from village to village in Vietnam, learning everything about the unique music styles in each region.

Opéra de Saigon

Two important opera houses in Vietnam are crucial to the classical music scene: Ho Chi Minh City Opera House and the Hanoi Opera House. The opera house in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as the Opera de Saigon, hosts some of the biggest and influential artists and concerts each year. A few of the biggest pianists and violinists have played in the Opera de Saigon over the years. The Hanoi Opera House, or the Grand Opera House, is also home to many large concerts and events throughout the year. As the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is a bustling city with tons of cultural impact. A third, but much less significant, opera house is in Haiphong. While the city itself is a center for culture and industry in Vietnam, the opera house in Haiphong is nowhere near as influential as the others in the classical music scene in Vietnam. 

 

Hanoi Player

 

Despite French influences in many aspects of Vietnamese culture, their musical culture has remained independent of these French influences. “‘This idea of classical music is very different here, because in France… we have like 

François Bibonne speaks to Nguyen Van Cuong

Baroque music and contemporary music and classical music and all the stuff, Western classical music. Here {in Vietnam} they have this, but they also connect that to traditional music and to the Vietnamese folk songs,’ François told Việt Nam News.” The goal of Bibonne’s documentary is to highlight this distinct version of classical music. “I think we know quite well the place of classical music in Japan, China or even South Korea, but not enough in Vietnam in my eyes,” Bibonne says. 

 

In an interview with a Vietnamese news outlet, François Bibonne recalls his time in Vietnam two years ago, listening to the “backdrop of classical music performed by the great ensembles of the country.” During this visit, he was first introduced to the nuances of classical Vietnamese music. “When I am with the musicians, we are all immersed in an atmosphere relaxed, unprofessional, a million miles from what we know about European classical music. It allows me to reexamine the role of professional musicians while watching them evolve. They all tell me that we play to be happy!” he continued. 

Unlike classical music in the Western world, Vietnamese classical music takes on a special tone and style. Traditional

Speaking with Orchestra Director

folk song and culture is a prominent theme in the classical music scene. Often, both folk songs and classical music tell a traditional story, one that resonates with the Vietnamese audience. This unique style of classical music drew Bibonne, both as a music enthusiast and as a person of Vietnamese heritage. Classical music in Vietnam tells powerful and unique stories, which is something Bibonne believes is worth preserving. The documentary Once Upon a Bridge in Vietnam, will focus on preserving a traditional sense of Vietnamese classical music, discussing Vietnamese history and heritage, and introducing new ideas of classical music styles to the Western world, Bibonne’s most prominent audience. 

Throughout the pandemic, Vietnamese musicians have been forced to cancel all live performances. As vaccine rollout

Vietnamese Orchestra

begins, albeit slowly, the music industry is opening up again. The “We Return” concert by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO), performed in June 2020, served as the massive reintroduction of music culture back into Vietnamese life. Now, in August, Vietnamese classical music will reach a broader audience as Bibonne’s documentary releases. 

Art Movement : Romanticism

Angelina Iosso,
SNHU Intern

Romanticism emerged in France at the turn of the French Revolution at the end of the 1800s. Romanticism fought against the ideas of the Enlightenment period and the Neoclassical period. The Enlightenment period focused on reason and individualism, Romanticism fought against that by putting the focus on nature or human action. This was to rebel against the idea of order and instead put the focus on the chaos happening in the real world. The Romantic Era peaked between the 1800s to the 1850s. During this time, the world was in turmoil, especially in France. It was post revolution in France but still reeling in the Napoleonic Era. When he was emperor, Napoleon sanctioned a turn back to the Neoclassical style which focused on order and praise for the past. Even though Napoleon was pushing this classical style forward, the new ideas of Romanticism were still moving their way throughout all of Europe and settling in France.  

 

Romanticism went against the idea of the mighty past and looked toward the future, and the impact the present will have on that future. Many artists used their platform to practice this style and find the Romantic in the everyday, especially natural events. They wanted to impact the viewer, and the artists did that through dramatic, emotional, and colorful pieces. One artist that exemplified the chaos of Romantic art was Théodore Géricault.  

 

Théodore Géricault used his artistic prowess to paint presentday events with magnificent scenes. In one of his most famous paintings, The Raft of the Medusa, he took a present day event and turned it into an almost historical painting depicting the gruesome aspects of what was happening in the present. The Raft of the Medusa depicts a gruesome shipwreck was a recent devastating event and Géricault painted it in pristine detail. This shocked viewers of the painting because the horrors of everyday life were not usually what art portrayed in that time. Modern artists take inspiration in present events all the time, and in other styles of that period, this was not the case. Before Romanticism, the art was frivolous, in the Rococo style or depicted actual historical events like in the Neoclassical movement. The art could be used as an allegory for present day events, but usually were not actually based on the present day. The Romantic Era switched this up. 

 

 

Géricault depicting this event shocked people because it forced the viewer to see the historical significance that presentday events can have on the world. He put this recent shipwreck in the same style as past major paintings to put this event on par with those major historical events. In doing this, Géricault made a statement about the importance of this event and showed people why they should care. By using The Raft of the Medusa painting to show the importance of learning from the present, Géricault exemplified the ideas of Romanticism in his art.  

 

Hubert Robert was also a father of the Romantic period. Hubert Robert was sometimes called Robert de Ruins because of his focus on idealizing the ruins of the structures he painted. Robert studied art in Italy, so many of his paintings were of Italian structures and this one pictured is The Imaginary View of the Grand Gallery of the Louvre in Ruins.

 

 

Robert was a quintessential Romantic painter because he took powerful and culturedefining monuments, similar to the Louvre, and showed how naturally without human intervention they would stand up to the test of time. This dilapidated view of a historical monument once again made viewers of the painting feel emotional about the subject.  

 

Romanticism is all about how much of an impact the artist can have with their art on those who view the piece. Romanticism is allowing the viewer to feel emotion about their present so they can think about where they want to go in the future. Robert painted these structures as swallowed up by the natural elements to show the viewers even such important places in history are not protected from the passage of time.  

 

Lastly, you cannot write about the Romanticism era in history and not include Eugène Delacroix. Delacroix’s paintings became the face of Romanticism in the 19th century. From the beginning of his career, he was the leader of the school of the French Romantics because of his dedication to the ideas of the Romantic Era. Delacroix painted historical events, but recent ones were still present to the general public. One of his most famous works that has gone down in history is his painting Liberty Leading the People.  

 

Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix is an iconic representation of French history vivid art. A female representation of Liberty is seen brandishing the French flag and charging into the revolutionary battle. The men in the foreground are following her and fighting for her. These men fighting around her show how far reaching the call for liberty was during the revolution because different classes are fighting for the cause. There are members of the bourgeoisie, the man on the left of the painting with the larger musket, fighting with members of the working class, like the man standing with his arm raised to the right of the painting. Delacroix wanted to show how the call for liberty was reaching everyone, and the fight is by all not the working class.  

 

This piece was not received well during its inception, especially since Delacroix was a royal painter, but it still made its mark on history. Liberty Leading the People has become a symbol of so many other notions and causes. Delacroix used the Romantic style of dramatizing the present to show the importance of this symbol to the French people, especially after the Revolution.  

 

Throughout history, the likeness of this scene has been used to create an allegorical symbol for the new viewers throughout recent history. This has been through the art of the time of the painting and recent art as well. Two recent examples of this artwork creating an impact on history are in two vastly different mediums. One medium Liberty Leading the People was used in the cover art of Coldplay’s album Viva La Vida. 

 

 

Another representation of this painting in modern day media is as symbolism in the 2012 musical adaptation of Les Misérables. The writer, Victor Hugo, was a Romantic era poet. Les Misérables was an iconic play about the hardships going on in France during the French Revolution. This play has stood the test of time and in it, the Romantic Era theme has traveled with it.   

 

Les Misérables
(2012 adaptation)

This scene and many others are shown of the characters on the brigades in the same triangular formation as showcased in Liberty Leading the People. This shows the Romantic Era themes are not only interesting to learn about in the time of inception, but are now still a portion of French culture that is impacting the present day. 

 

More information can be found on Les Misérables and other works by Victor Hugo in last week’s post .

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables and Beyond

Ana Tunberg, SNHU Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you hear the people sing? Les Miserables is one of the most well known musicals to
date, and one of the most long-standing musicals on Broadway. Additionally, it was converted into the award-winning motion picture of the same name in 2012. With gripping characters, a complex storyline, arguably some of the best acting roles for both stage and screen, and beautiful and cathartic music pieces, Les Misérables has captured audiences far and wide for decades. However, the lesser known fact of the musical is that it is not only based on true events, but it is based on famous French author Victor Hugo’s timeless novel Les Misérables. The musical closely follows important plot points and characters of the novel, although many parts had to be left out due to the fact that the book is one of the longest written novels in all of history. The book Les Misérables is an important literary and historical artifact of French culture, as it highlights important events and defining values of French culture through their history. Victor Hugo himself was a very interesting and important figure in French history, and he put French literature on the map of timeless literature classics that is still recognized globally.

To summarize (spoilers ahead!) Les Misérables follows an ex-convict named Jean Valjean who seeks redemption and living a better, more fulfilling life after his time in prison.  Valjean has a religious awakening as an ex-convict, and attempts to escape his identity in order to lead a better life than being a convict would allow him. Along the way, he becomes Mayor, and adopts Fantine’s child after she passes away. Fantine led a life of hardship, loss, and illness, and her one wish to Valjean was to have her child cared for. In order to give her justice and peace, he loves this child, Cosette, as his own. He spends most of his life running from a police officer named Javert, as he knows Valjean’s identity the best. Javert believes he is doing the right thing by pursuing the convict. Valjean lives a life full of giving, kindness, and love, and escapes from the system that condemned him. Valjean also meets a group of poor schoolboys leading a rebellion against the government due to an unjust system that causes their suffering. This important aspect of the novel, as it centers around an unjust system that condemns the poor and forces them into a life of pain (this is also the reason Valjean became a criminal- his family was poor and starving and he had to steal), is based on the true events of the June Rebellion, which was a republican uprising against the monarchy, in Paris in 1832. Eventually, Valjean confesses his true identity to his daughter, saves her lover in the tragic rebellion and allows her to marry him, and he dies at peace. The end of the novel centers around the famous quote “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise,” which signifies hope after suffering. There are many more characters and subplots within the large novel, but these are the most important plot points
and values that the novel is known for.

 

Victor Hugo was not only a phenomenal author- he also led a very tumultuous, artistic, and interesting life, making him a fascinating person in French History. He was a poet and novelist and was an important figure during the Romanticism movement. To put it simply, Romanticism in literature covered much of the 19th century and focused widely on human connection, intrinsic turmoil and morals, cathartic writing, and deep-rooted emotions. For reference, Gothic literature is a subcategory of the Romantic movement. Romanticism showed opposition and pushed back to the previous period of Enlightenment, and was criticized by many academics due to the emotionally- driven focus of the Romantics. However, ultimately the movement spread globally and became a defining era for all arts, such as visual art, literature, and music.

 

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” -Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo’s life was fast-paced from the start. He was born Victor-Marie Hugo in 1802. He moved around a lot due to the fact that his father was in Napoleon’s army. His mother was a devoted Catholic woman. Due to the constant moving, Hugo’s mother separated from his father and lived in France with her children. Both parents had other relationships while separated, but eventually Hugo, his mother, and his siblings rejoined Hugo’s father in Spain in 1811. An important fact in Hugo’s life is that his mother and siblings lived in a convent while his father fought in the Peninsular War (before they rejoined him). A conspirator named Victor Fanneau de La Horie, who also hid in the convent, became a mentor for Hugo. When Hugo was only fifteen, he won an honorable mention award for writing a poem for a contest sponsored by the L’Académie Française.

 

On top of Hugo being a profound artist and writer, who was elected to the L’Académie Française in 1841 (although he had to fight to get in as a Romantic artist), he also led a profound political life that influenced his works. He became a member of the Upper Chamber of Parliament in 1845, and fought against the death penalty, social injustice, and fought for freedom of press and self- government for Poland at the time. He was well known for fighting for third class people, and his speeches were famous for fighting against poverty and the death penalty. When Napoleon III rose to power in 1851, Hugo called him a traitor to France, moved to England, but was then banished from England due to his written criticisms of Queen Victoria. He then lived in exile on the island of Guernsey from 1855 until 1870. It was during his exile that he continued to voice his strong opinions against Napoleon III and fighting for those less fortunate, including speaking of support towards ending the slave trade.

 

It was also during his exile that Hugo wrote Les Misérables, which speaks volumes about the themes of hope, suffering, and fighting for what you believe in. Hugo was exiled for voicing his opinion, and his strong support for those in poverty and despair shined through in the cathartic third class characters that starred in his novel. He wrote his novel during the time of the June Rebellion, which was a tragic rebellion that ultimately failed and resulted in lots of bloodshed. However, Hugo could capture the courage and meaning of the rebellion, which is fighting and dying for justice and love, resulting in a hopeful future. This event otherwise might have been forgotten in history, but Hugo’s novel and its meaning aids in remembrance of an important aspect of French history, literature, and culture.

 

Another important novel by Victor Hugo is The Hunchback of Notre Dame which also has notable values like love and was also converted into a successful musical and a well known animated Disney motion picture musical. Besides his well-known novels he wrote various poems that also represent his values, empathy, character, and artistic voice. Hugo’s connection to values, love, and empathy along with caring and fighting for those less fortunate as represented through his life and art makes him and his works important in French history. He and his pieces also serve as a signifier for the values French culture became known for during this tumultuous time in history and he helped keep these important French cultural values alive through his timeless pieces, allowing them to be celebrated on a global scale.

Le Tour de France

Written by Jasmine Grace,
High School Intern

 

The Tour de France is a prestigious cycling race for the world’s elite bicyclists. It is a 21 stage route. These stages take place in a variety of landscapes, from the streets of Paris to steep roads through the Alps. The course is traditionally contained to France but sometimes dips into neighboring countries. There are nine riders on each of the 22 teams from across the globe who will compete in this 23-day event. The race will begin on June 26 in Brittany and will be an astounding 3,383 kilometers. 

 

2021, the 108th race, will be a bit different. Teams will have to be bubbled, and individuals will be frequently tested for COVID. Anyone who has a positive test must be isolated. Fortunately, this year’s race won’t need to be as strict as last year’s. And many aspects of the race, such as the four jerseys and the intensity of the competition, will remain the same as they’ve always been. 

 

 

The four famous prize jerseys will still be awarded after each stage of the race to be worn in the following stage. The polka dot jersey is awarded to the best biker through the mountains, the white jersey is awarded to the best young rider under 25, the green jersey is awarded to the highest point scorer, and the famous yellow jersey is awarded to the overall best cyclist or the race favorite.

 

There are also some things about the Tour de France that  many think it’s time to change. Women weren’t allowed to compete in the first race, and they still aren’t allowed to compete today. Other alternative bike races have been created for women in the past, but none were as long or as grueling as the men’s Tour de France, and many didn’t last long. As with many women’s sporting events, sexist beliefs and a lack of press coverage lead to a lack of funding, which means the events cannot continue. 

 

La Course by Le Tour de France

 

Some argue an event equal to the Tour de France needs to be created for women; others think it would be best to allow women to compete in the main Tour de France. It could be organized like a marathon run, where one group starts ahead of the other. So although they are competing on the same track, their times may be kept separate and they aren’t in direct competition with each other. Tradition is important to this competition, but it is also important that traditions evolve.

 

These traditions stretch way back. A journalist named Géo Lefèvre created the idea for such competition in 1903 as a publicity stunt to boost sales of his sports newspaper, L’Auto. Lefèvre’s editor/director was a bike enthusiast himself and loved the idea. A 15-hundred mile 6-stage loop around France was developed and on July 1, 60 men began the first stage. Most were French, but a handful of Belgians, Germans, and bicyclists from other nations joined the competition too. 23 riders abandoned the race during the first stage, and only 21 riders completed the race. There was a 64-hour gap between the race champion and the last completer. 

 

 

Although the race was even more of a challenge than many expected, it was still a resounding success. Sales of L’Auto boomed, and people loved the race so much, it happened again the next summer, and the summer after that. Today, 108 years later, the Tour de France still takes place every summer in Europe.

 

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