We are excited to welcome a new, though temporary, family member this evening. Joining us for two weeks from Quéven in the south of Brittany, Hugo is 18 years old and a recent graduate. He comes to us from his home in the country, with the blessing and support of his mom, dad, sister …. And cats!
We will enjoy Hugo’s visit thanks to ECI (Echanges Culturels Internationaux), a non-profit cultural exchange program based in southern France. With active programs in Central Florida and in Pennsylvania, the organization lays the groundwork and program features that allow French teenagers to enjoy an exciting opportunity to experience everyday American life.
Just as the word signifies, though, the exchange is mutual; for we already have learned about an area of Brittany with which we were not very familiar. Quéven is part of the rich landscape of estuaries around the Gulf of Morbihan – described as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Ancient megaliths, and just to the Southeast the historic walled town of Vannes, enrich life in the region.
In researching the area, we discovered the notable impact of World War II. Nearly the entire town of Quéven was destroyed by Allied bombs from 1943-1944. As the U-Boat Headquarters for the Germans, Lorient was a primary target of the Allies. And just yesterday, we made a very timely and interesting discovery.
As it turns out, my husband’s uncle was part of the armored division that ultimately liberated Brittany. In an amazing coincidence, we came across his letters describing the ‘march’ from Rennes to Vannes and beyond in the fall of 1944. On May 10, 1945, the German garrison surrendered, and four years later the city of Lorient was awarded the Legion of Honour and the Croix de guerre.
We are so pleased to be a part of this cultural exchange, understanding quite well the wealth of experience any person enjoys, when engaging with other cultures. That is, in fact, one of the primary reasons we developed France Daily Photo. Each day we learn more of our French ‘neighbors’, and it is our pleasure to share our love of French culture, history and style with our readers.
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