Franco Trail map and cultural tourism

“…we say it is time to shout out our pride to all who are here to listen and learn about our history…,”  Rachel Desgrosseilliers.

LEWISTON, ME– One of the challenges I’ve encountered about Franco-Americans has been about how to build awareness for the 400 years of history, and culture shared by 25 percent (or more) of Maine’s population, to the public’s attention.

program launced at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston

Franco Trail LA app and program launched in Lewiston

I believe the Franco-Trail program will help to advance community engagement for learning more about Franco-Americans and help to promote interest in Maine’s cultural tourism programs, at the same time. This program began a few years ago with a group led by the Museum of Work and Culture, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  The cities of Woonsocket RI, Manchester NH, Biddeford, Lewiston and Auburn, Maine are included in the planning.

A preview was recently launched to explain the program.

A press conference on May 22, held at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston, was hosted for the purpose of explaining how the Franco-Trail L-A project supports both public education about Franco-Americans in the Lewiston-Auburn twin cities and to promote cultural tourism to the area.  A slide presentation highlighting the Franco Trail L-A digital tour and smart phone map (app) was led by Rachael Desgrosseilliers, executive director of the Museum L-A and Catherine Picard, an intern with the Quebec Delegation who has been assigned to the Franco Trail L-A program.

Franco Trail LA launch in Lewiston Maine

Rachel Desgrosseilliers (right) with Catherine Picard launch a prelude to the Franco Trail LA program in Lewiston Maine

Museum L-A posted photographs about the press conference at this site here.

“Museum L-A and many other partners are bringing different pieces to the Franco Trail L-A map, to help teach the public about the Franco-American story in the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn,” said Desgrosseilliers.  “This rich history began from the days when those pioneering French-Canadians came in search of jobs and a better life. Today, we want our neighbors, visitors, and tourists to learn about the locations where our ancestors lived, worked and worshiped. They helped to shape the face of our beloved cities. We not only stand proud of our heritage, but through our collaborative cultural efforts, we can say it is time to shout out our pride to all who are here to listen.”

“I have been speaking throughout Maine about who we are as French Canadian people and the audiences have been glad, as well as anxious, to hear, and learn about who we were and still are.  There seems to be a certain joie de vivre that captures them.”

Desgrosseilliers thanked Madam Marie Claude Francoeur from the Quebec delegation in New England, and Marie Josee Duquette, the communications, culture and Francophone affairs attachee from the Quebec government office in Boston, for their partnership and encouragement for the important Franco Trail L-A program.

There are two components to the Franco Trail

1- It is a walking tour that visitors, and locals can use, with the map, the app, and websites to be able to pick, and choose parts of the trail that they can take at anytime they want or as long as they want.  Hopefully, they will eventually do the whole trail.

2- It is a bus tour product that will be given to tour companies that call and ask if we have any excursions ready to offer.

Partners that are participating in the Franco Trail L-A program are:

  1. The University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College Franco-American Collection.
  2. The Gendron Franco Center for Heritage and the Performing Arts
  3. The Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society
  4. The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  5. Museum L-A – The story of work and community in Lewiston-Auburn
  6. The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

For more information check the very nice website FrancotrailLA.com and download the app.

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.