Billboard & posters for Normandy’s yearly Caen Expo 2004 featuring the country of California

Every year since William the Conqueror established it in the 11th century in Normandy, the Caen International Festival has continued  and now celebrates a particular country every year. In 2005, they chose the country of California. The billboards and posters featured a 58’ Chevy tail fin and a surfer on a big wave. My daughter Camille had spent a year in Paris studying art and fashion and had staged a fashion show and a solo art opening in Montmartre. She and I represented the state of California at the faire, with a booth selling her handmade corsets & bustiers and my handmade jewelry. Next to our booth was an actual Model T Ford, and old California license plates on the wall behind us which people kept wanting to purchase. Another booth sold tie dye, peanut butter, and taquitos. Across from us, a little stage featured French musicians playing country rock songs throughout the day. I got tired of “Louie Louie” but never “The Midnight Special.” The last day they had me join them singing “If you’re going to ‘San Francisco.”’ The festival featured an art exhibit devoted to Steve McQueen. About 240,000 passed through for eleven days. We were lodged with local fashionistas and we did very well. 

The gargoyles of Notre Dame, 1907 postcard

France has a mutual exchange with the U.S in cutting edge ideas and cultural advances. Since the 1920s, France has had an enormous appreciation for American jazz and Black musicians in particular. Josephine Baker, Sidney Bichet and Louis Armstrong were treated like royalty across the Atlantic.