All posts filed under: Better Know a Frenchman

Better Know a French Woman: George Sand

After researching several ‘grands hommes’ for Better Know a Frenchman, my series about the people behind the names on streets signs and buildings all across France, I found out about FemiCité, a feminist movement to put more WOMEN’S names in those places of honor. In solidarity, I have decided to begin highlighting amazing French Women along with the Frenchmen I have already been profiling. Who do you think deserves recognition?! Leave a comment! George Sand Lived: 1804- 1876 Spotted: rue George Sand is in Paris’ 16th arrondissement and a handful of cities across France including Tours, Le Havre, and Voirons. A quick search turned up about three or four lycées named for her in all of France. Important Contributions: George Sand is the pseudonym for the controversial writer, essayist, and “romantic rebel” Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin who wrote over 80 novels, dozens of plays, and thousands of letters during her lifetime. Her first independent novel, Indiana (1832), is about a woman in a passionless marriage, and broadly addresses themes such as female desire, social constraints concerning women in marriage, and women’s equality in …

Better Know a French…WOMAN!

I’ve been trying to regularly contribute to Better Know a Frenchman, my series about the people behind the names on streets signs and buildings all across France. Shortly after I started the series, I found out about a feminist movement to put more WOMEN’S names in those places of honor. FémiCité is a project by the group Osez le féminisme ! (roughly, Dare to be Feminist!)*. According to their website, out of 63,500 streets in all of France, 20,000 are named for men while only 1,270 bear the name of a woman! 1,270! That is barely 2%! Or as they say, “That’s 2% of streets dedicated to half of humanity.” They also note that of the 302 metro stations in Paris’ extensive system, only three bear women’s names. And of those three, there is a single station where that woman does not share the name with a man! (Interestingly, one of the most recently built tram lines has 9 stations with women’s names, among them Rosa Parks and Ella Fitzgerald.) The problem here is obvious. The names we …

Better Know a Frenchman: Gaspard Monge

Once you’ve wandered through enough cities in France, you begin to notice some similarities beyond cobblestone-lined quarters and fragrant boulangeries. Just as we do in the US, the French name their streets and schools after their most impressive men and women and many of them crop up over and over again. After meeting several of these “grands hommes” all around the country, I realized I didn’t actually know who many of them were or what they contributed to French history that makes them worthy of gracing so many public infrastructures. Know of a cool Frenchman/woman you think should be featured on Better Know a Frenchman? Leave a comment! Gaspard Monge Lived: 1746-1818 Spotted: Lycée Monge and Place Monge were a short walk from my apartment in Chambéry. Place Monge is also a metro stop in Paris, there’s a rue Monge in Lyon, and I’m willing to bet there are more than a few lycées named after him across the rest of France. Important Contributions: Gaspard Monge was a brilliant mathematician and engineer. he pioneered a new branch of geometry called …

Better Know a Frenchman: Jean Jaurès

Once you’ve wandered through enough cities in France, you begin to notice some similarities beyond cobblestone-lined quarters and fragrant boulangeries. Just as we do in the US, the French name their streets and schools after their most impressive men and women and many of them crop up over and over again. After meeting several of these “grands hommes” all around the country, I realized I didn’t actually know who many of them were or what they contributed to French history that makes them worthy of gracing so many public infrastructures. Know of a cool Frenchman/woman you think should be featured on Better Know a Frenchman? Leave a comment! Jean Jaurès Lived: 1859 – 1914 Spotted: I first heard of M. Jaurès from both a boulevard and a school in Chambéry and a metro stop in Paris and Lyon. An article from France24 surmises: “Jaurès may be little known outside his homeland, but a glance at a map of any French town or city will reveal the extent of his impact on the country – thousands of streets, schools, metro stations and public …

Better Know a Frenchman: Jules Ferry

Once you’ve wandered through enough cities in France, you begin to notice some similarities beyond cobblestone-lined quarters and fragrant boulangeries. Just as we do in the US, the French name their streets and schools after their most impressive men and women and many of them crop up over and over again. After a while, my friends and I began to joke that France must not have enough famous people, because there seem to be a list of maybe 20 names you can reliably find in any city of a certain size. Charles de Gaulle is basically a given, and Victor Hugo shows up almost as often (Although, sorry France, no matter how you spell it, “Léonard de Vince” is simply not French). To pack an extra punch, they’ve also named several roads after the entire country: Rue de la République ran behind my house in Chambéry, just as it is a major thoroughfare of Lyon and an avenue in Paris (incidentally, the address of Lycée Voltaire). After meeting several of these “grands hommes” all around the country, I realized I …