Massillonians visit Hyeres, France

November 13 and 14, 2013

From Massillon Museum Executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon
November 14, 2013

Pictured from left to right are:  Dr. Jean Lemaire, Hubert François, Charles Amic, Dr. Charles Paquelet, Mayor Jacques Politi, Alexandra Nicholis Coon, Judy Paquelet, Trisha Merchant, Mario Cantinelli, and Christiana François.  The flag was provided by the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club.

We've just returned to our hotel, Mercure, from a WONDERFUL day in Hyères!  The visit was planned for us, from 11am until nearly 10pm, at the request of the Mayor of Hyères and the President of the Hyères Society of History and Archeology, Hubert François.  Along with his colleagues, Mario Cantinelli and Jean Lemaire, we were given a wonderful tour of the city, and shown incredible hospitality. Hubert François and his lovely wife, Christiana, had us to their lovely home in the hills, with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean, and treated us to a light lunch.  This was followed by a personal tour of Giens, a neighboring township of about 2,000 people.

The Massillon, Ohio, team visits the Jean-Baptiste Massillon statue (erected 1963) at Place Massillon, Hyères, France.

(left to right): Judy Paquelet, Dr. Charles Paquelet, Alexandra Nicholis Coon, and Josh Coon.

We rested a bit, and then Mario--who speaks beautiful English and works for a private tour company that travels all over the world--escorted Josh Coon, Judy and Charlie Paquelet, and me to the Old Town of Hyères--the medieval town--to visit the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Massillon, along with the statue of him which is famous to all of us back home working on this project!  We also saw the Rue Massillon, and the Place Massillon. We also spotted, on Rue Massillon, Bar Massillon - and, just before the Portal Massillon, is the Pharmacie Massillon! It was wonderful to see our namesake all over this historic, picturesque town.

Interestingly, we learned this afternoon that it wasn't until an effort on the part of the Mayor of Hyères in the 1830s that Jean-Baptiste Massillon was elevated to a person of prominence; apparently, for some time later in his life and then in death he was sort of shunned in his hometown and the region.  He had always been more revered in Clermont, a location in which he served as Bishop.  However, because of this former Mayor and his efforts to restore the good name of Massillon, he remains a historical figure of import.  But, just as we are trying in Massillon, Ohio, to remember his name and solidify his place in history, the Mayor and his associates in the cultural organizations are working to do the same.

SO, it was even suggested by one of the Mayor's colleagues that we work to establish a sort of student exchange program, to develop a perpetual relationship with Hyères in an effort to keep the history of Jean-Baptiste alive! 

The Mayor had an official photographer for the presentation/exchange of gifts in his beautiful office this evening!  We gave him and his staff the City of Champions pins issued by our Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry; the Proclamation issued by the City of Massillon, Ohio; the Massillon Tigers flag and Obie pins presented by the Booster Club; and Massillon Tigers t-shirts.  Each of us was given a polo shirt, set of CDs from the archives of Hyères, a lovely historical book of photos of the city, a pen and keychain.  The Mayor also had for us all Rose wine native to the region, and lovely hors d'oeuvres.

We were incredibly well-received, and know this is the beginning of a wonderful and lasting relationship between our cities.

On November 14, the symposium focused on Jean-Baptiste Massillon was held. There were over 100 in attendance throughout the day - it began sharply at 9am, with a coffee break after the first two presentations, then a few more, with readings of Massillon's sermons in between!  Lunch was quite the event!  Four courses, with wine - they know how to do it over here!  When we resumed, there were five more presentations - Trisha's was the final one, but she captivated the audience, and represented not only our Museum, but the entire town of Massillon, beautifully.

I presented the Massillon Rotary flag to Charles Avic, a member of City Council, as the Mayor is the incoming Hyères Rotary President!  Tomorrow, we visit the Mediatheque, where we'll be met by the Director at 9am; we'll leave for Draguinan afterwards for Rhone American Cemetery for a ceremony to honor the Stark County, Ohio, men who are buried there.

Alexandra Nicholis Coon and Museum trustee Judy Paquelet pose in front of Bar Massillon, Hyères, France.

Pharmacie Massillon at Place Massillon, Hyères, France.

Rue Massillon near Place Massillon, Hyères, France.

Massillon contingent at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert François in Hyères.  From left to right, back row to front row, are: Hubert François, Christiana François, Judy Paquelet, Trisha Merchant, Dr. Charles Paquelet, Mario Cantinelli, Joshua Coon, Alexandra Nicholis Coon

Alexandra Coon presents a Rotary Club of Massillon flag to Charles Amic, who is a member of the City Council in Hyères, France.

A Massillon Tigers shirt is presented to Jacques Politi, Mayor of Hyères, France.

Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry prepared a proclamation for "Jean-Baptiste Massillon Day," presented here to Jacques Politi, Mayor of Hyères, France.






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