By Sarah Johnson
Students at the Pierre Bottineau French Immersion Elementary School in North Minneapolis know that Galette du Roi
Class at Pierre Bottineau French Immersion School in north Minneapolis.
is not a French reality show thanks to letter exchanges with their young counterparts at Ecole Elémentaire Anatole France in Tours, France as part of Bon Appétit. Through this program, 14 third and fourth graders have been corresponding since last fall, introducing themselves to new friends across the ocean, learning about culinary traditions in France and sharing holiday recipes. Students at Pierre Bottineau produce two copies of each letter- one in French to help Minneapolis students practice their foreign language skills and one in English to help Tours students practice theirs.
“Admittedly, students were a little nervous about writing letters in French at first but that was quickly overcome with excitement,” says Pierre Bottineau teacher Michele Chalmeau (Madame Michele to her students). “It’s so fun to see their reactions when they receive mail from another country.” Students started with introductory letters complete with photos and now focus on a variety of food related topics. For example, the Minneapolis students sent some traditional Thanksgiving recipes last November since this American holiday is not celebrated in France.
Tours students related the French tradition of Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Wise Men to the baby Jesus, celebrated in January. Galette Du Roi or “king cake” is served as a dessert that day, and the child who receives the piece of cake with a trinket hidden in it is designated as “king” for a day. Both schools have already committed to continuing the program for the 2014-15 school year, confirming once again that the simple joy of receiving a handwritten letter stretches across the world!
Serge Babary elected mayor of Tours in recent election
The list, or slate of candidates, headed by Serge Babary and composed primarily of members of the UMP-UDI parties, received 49.8% of the votes in Sunday’s second round election making him the next mayor of Tours.
Serge Babary, newly elected mayor of Tours Photo CreditSerge Babary campaign site
He defeated the list headed by the nineteen-year incumbent mayor, Jean Germain (Socialist-Green) which scored 41.7%. The list headed by Gilles Godefroy (Front National) garnered 8.6% of the votes.
Voter turnout increased in the second round from 52% to 56%. This was below the national average which was already considered poor for a French election.
Council seats are distributed in a two-step calculation. The winning ticket is assured of just over half (or 28) seats and then the remaining 27 seats are allocated in proportion to the share of the vote. The actual names are selected from the order in which the appear on the tickets, and those names alternate by gender. A city of 135,000 must have a city council of 55 members… that’s the law.
The winning ticket led by Serge Babary will hold 42 seats on the 55-member city council. Jean Germain’s ticket will hold 11 seats and that of Gilles Godefroy will have two seats.
Tours City Hall on Election Day 2012
By Sarah Johnson
In Minneapolis, it happens in the fall. In Tours, it happens in the spring. For Minneapolis’s sister city, it’s time again for that democratic tradition…elections. I was lucky enough to be in Tours in the spring of 2012 for the presidential election between François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy and was graciously allowed to visit city hall to see French democracy in action. In one notable difference from Minneapolis, residents are required to show a photo ID before casting their ballot. They also receive results much quicker- since France is only about the size of Texas, by about 8 p.m. on election night it was clear that Hollande had won.
This March in Tours brings their municipal elections. Jean Germain, the current mayor of Tours, is running for re-election on the Socialist party ticket. One of the first differences you notice between the cities is the size of the city council. In Minneapolis, a city of approximately 400,000, there are thirteen council members. In Tours, a city of about 135,000, there are 55 council members. Continue Reading
Meet our newest blogger and Sister Cities friend, Maëliss Saulnier. Maëliss lives and works in Tours as a translator.
On February 14th, the French, like Americans, celebrate love. It’s the one time of year when we indulge our loved ones in expressions of affection.
In France, giving presents is customary for most special occasions. But on Valentine’s Day, the romantic side of the French intensifies. Local Valentine’s Day traditions, like ones in the states, are for the most part the same. Boxes of fine chocolates. Bouquets of flowers. Then there are the extraordinary, unique experiences such as wine-tastings and gourmet culinary dinners set in medieval castles that transport lovers to a different time.
Paris has the reputation for being a romantic city, but in my beautiful region of Touraine, magical fairy tale surroundings are everywhere. From a leisurely stroll, hand in hand along the banks of the Loire, across cobbled street to a breath-taking view of the city at dusk from the top of a Ferris wheel, it’s a city made for romance.
This Valentine’s Day evening, the streets of Tours will be filled with the energy and anticipation of lovers and I, too, will be there.