FOR 101 YEARS NEW YORK WAS FRENCH! April 10, 2014
IN THIS 16TH CENTURY MAP, IN THE LOWER LEFT-HAND CORNER, THE WORD ANGOULÊME APPEARS, IDENTIFYING THE APPROXIMATE LOCATION OF PRESENT-DAY NEW YORK CITY.
THE FRENCH POITOU-CHARENTES REGION IS LOCATED IN WESTERN FRANCE.
SÉGOLÈNE, ROYAL, PRESIDENT OF THE POITOU-CHARENTES REGION, WAS RECENTLY APPOINTED FRENCH MINISTER OF ECOLOGY, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENERGY, IN THE NEWLY REVAMPED CABINET OF PRESIDENT FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE OF FRANCE.
THESE FLAT-BOTTOMED BOATS ARE PERFECT FOR EXPLORING THE WONDERS OF POITOU-CHARENTES' MARAIS OR MARSHLANDS, WHICH FEATURE COUNTLESS CANALS WITH SMALL VILLAGES ALONG THE BANKS.
While many New Yorkers, if asked, might be able to answer correctly the name Dutch settlers christened Manhattan and its environs as New Amsterdam in the early 17th century, few could probably tell you that the French explored here before them in the 16th century and called the area New Angoulême.
In a New World voyage sponsored by French King François 1er (1494-1547), Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485–1528) christened the island in 1524 as New Angoulême; it was named after his regal patron, who was known originally as Count of Angoulême before being crowned as King in 1515. Not until 1625, when the Dutch wrested control from the French, that a name change occurred and the island became known as New Amsterdam. (Now you know where the name of the bridge, joining Staten Island with Brooklyn, comes from — the original ‘french connection’ one might say!)
All this wonderful local history, and much else besides, was introduced at a gathering at the New York French Consulate on Tuesday, April 9, 2014. A distinguished panel from the Tourist Office of Poitou-Charentes in western France, a representative from the city of Rochefort – home to the Hermione frigate set to sail to America in 2015 – and Miles Young, president of Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America – were guests of French Consul of New York Bertrand Lortholary.
Ségolène Royal, president of the Poitou-Charentes region, was scheduled to lead the group and make a speech, but with her recent appointment as French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, in the newly revamped cabinet of President François Hollande of France, she was unable to make the trip to the United States.
In a series of fact-filled presentations about the rich cultural, gastronomic, historical and touristic resources of Poitou-Charentes, American travel journalists and agents learned about New Angoulême, and much else. Aurélie Loubes, Director of Regional Promotion, Poitou-Charentes, addressed the varied and year-round calendar of regional events, attracting both native French and millions of foreign tourists who visit annually. She and her colleagues stressed the “discovery” potential the region offers to visitors, from its small towns, beaches, Ile de Ré island, UNESCO world heritage churches, and idyllic green spaces to its historic towns like Angoulême, La Rochelle and Cognac, the latter home to world’s most famous brandy. Sandrine Pailloncy, International Tourist Officer, Poitou-Charentes, lauded the pleasures of the region’s quiet, rustic towns, its seafoods and cuisine, and the “Venice” of the region’s celebrated marshland canals open to kayakers and boaters of all levels. Hervé Bierjon, Director of Tourism, Rochefort, talked about the historic links of the city dating to the reign of Louis XIV and his chief minister Colbert, who were instrumental in building the town to its status as the realm’s chief maritime center.
Picking up on Rochefort’s nautical roots, next, Miles Young, of the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, discussed the exciting plans of the French Frigate, a replica of which has been constructed in Rochefort, and its planned 2015 visit along the Eastern seaboard, including stops at Yorktown, Annapolis, Mount Vernon, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, among other ports of call. Mr. Young paid special compliments to the corporate support of this project offered by Moët Hennessy, a division of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. After the presentations, cocktails, including those crafted fromHennessy Cognac, were offered, together with information from Cognac’s Office of Tourism.
American Revolution history buffs, admirers of Washington, Jefferson and Lafayette, nautical enthusiasts and followers interested in L’Hermione’s 2015 voyage from Rochefort, France to the Eastern seaboard are invited to follow this blog for all the latest news and plans in 2014 and 2015.
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