French dignitary visits Franco center

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LEWISTON — Christophe Guilhou, consul general of France in Boston, was honored with a small reception at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Tuesday afternoon.

Guilhou, who was recently appointed to his post, made stops in Biddeford and Saco before coming to Lewiston, and was set to visit Augusta and Freeport before ending his Maine trip.

During remarks made in French to the audience of about 20 people, Guilhou said he had served as a dignitary in other regions of the world and has always tried to learn a bit about the local culture.

When he was in Africa, for example, he learned some Swahili and Arabic, he said. The same policy goes now that he’s in Boston.

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“Vive la Red Sox!” he said, laughing.

Board members of the Franco-American Heritage Center were happy to show off the newly renovated facility to Guilhou and local guests.

“It’s beautiful,” said Elizabeth LeBihan, of the L’Ecole Francaise du Maine in Freeport.

Ray Lagueux, president of the Franco-American Heritage Center, said he was proud of the investments made in the building.

“It is a gathering place that’s functional and attractive,” he said.

Donald Christie, a Franco center board member, said the visit from Guilhou was meant to foster connections with the French government and enhance cultural opportunities at the Franco-American Heritage Center.

“Once you have these personal connections, it’s easier to stay in touch,” Christie said.

Discussions about coordinating with Guihou’s office to schedule visits of cultural performance artists and to develop local school programs promoting French culture have already begun, Christie said.

The event was coordinated by Severin Beliveau, who serves as honorary consul of France in Maine.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

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