Wednesday, December 14, 2011

still discovering evreux


The beautiful weather here is continuing--even into the middle of December! I don't know how long this 50 degree climate is planning on sticking around, but winter should be approaching soon, at least according to the calendar. The days lately have been alternating between rain and sun. The rainy days are still too warm for snow, but the beautiful, sunny days are great to be able to explore my town a little more!

Even though I have been here for almost three months now, and even though Evreux isn't terribly big, there are still parts of town that I haven't been to yet! A few weeks ago, I was asked to translate a class for an academic adviser giving a lecture on teaching English. This adviser had requested a native English speaker to be able to pronounce words and give suggestions because his English is not very good. But he is a complete Anglophile, and spent the whole day asking questions and talking about Americana. He even taught me a little Franco-American history that I was not aware of!

There is an air force base just outside of the city of Evreux. It was built just after World War I and had been used variably by the British, German, and French military for a few decades. Then after World War II, the American air force was able to use it during the Cold War, until the mid-1960's. So there was a major influx of American soldiers in the area and, as a result, there are 2 "American" neighborhoods in Evreux!

This French adviser drove through one of them so that I could see it. It is basically a huge camp of ranch-style homes neatly organized on the edge of town. It is noticeably un-French. For example, there are large front yards and no fences or gates around the homes. It is very obviously inspired by traditional American suburban neighborhoods.

Rue du Canada, Rue de Washington

The other week, I decided to explore the other American neighborhood. It was a bit of a walk outside of the city center, and separated from the rest of town by a little forest, but it was a pretty walk. I finally found the neighborhood, along with streets named "Rue de Washington", "Rue du Canada", among others--it was a quick giveaway.

one of the typical homes in the neighborhood

Unlike the first American neighborhood that I saw, this one has been significantly French-ified. Families have added gates (without which, any French home would not be complete...), and funny entrances. So this particular neighborhood hasn't been preserved in such an obvious way as the first. The neighborhood wasn't very big, and has essentially been taken over by French families. But you could still see the traces of American culture, which was really interesting. It was fun to discover a little bit of Franco-American history, right in my own backyard! 

pax christi.

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