Fredericksburg and France: A Tale of Two Sister Cities

French flag

The name “Fredericksburg” rings more German than it does French, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that is more closely linked to croissants than bratwurst. Already, Fredericksburg is a melting pot of cultures considering its proximity to D.C. and vibrant culture that attracts people from all walks of life.

Read on to find out more about Fredericksburg’s French history and its unique partnership à la française.

French Influence in Fredericksburg

Among the first to arrive in Fredericksburg was the Maury family, French Huguenots in the late 17th century. It was they who established a classical school in Louisa County where Thomas Jefferson later attended to study Latin and Greek. To this day, you can see Matthew Fontaine Maury’s home on Caroline Street. This descendant of the original Fredericksburg Maurys gained worldwide recognization for his charting of ocean and wind currents.

The famous Marquis de Lafayette passed through Fredericksburg on his way to Yorktown, and the city held an extravagant ball in his honor when he returned to American in 1824.

In 1979, the mayor of Fréjus, France, François Léotard, visited Fredericksburg. He came by invite of Ralph Meima Jr., who was serving as the U.S. Consul General at Marseilles. Afterward, Meima met with Fredericksburg Mayor Lawrence Davies to propose forming a sister city alliance between Fréjus and Fredericksburg. The following year, the recommendation was enacted.

Fréjus and Fredericksburg

The cities of Fréjus and Fredericksburg are linked via the Sister City program, begun by President Eisenhower. Since 1980, Fredericksburg and Fréjus have facilitated hundreds of exchanges between students of the two cities. In even-numbered years, Fréjus students come and stay in the homes of American French students. In odd-numbered years, Fredericksburg students do the same, only in Fréjus. This is what Eisenhower envisioned with this initiative, calling it a “citizen diplomacy.”

Along with the student exchange, the partnership has lead to exchanges in art exhibitions, photography shows, fine arts performances, sports team exchanges, economic cooperation visits, and more.

You can also find a small garden in Fredericksburg as well as two roundabouts in Fréjus dedicated to the Sister City relationship. This garden is located adjacent to the Fredericksburg Visitors’ Center. In addition to the aforementioned activities, both cities celebrate their relationship with the “Giant Omelet.” This tradition, which takes place in both Fredericksburg and Fréjus, dates back to the Napoleonic War era. Today, instead of feeding Napoleon’s troops, it has become a day full of dancing, music, and a parade that includes plenty of crusty baguettes and a 10,000-egg omelet.

You might also like: All Aboard the Rappahannock Railroad Museum’s Rail Excursion

Mazda of Fredericksburg

Now that you’re up-to-date on Fréjus and Fredericksburg, pay a visit to Mazda of Fredericksburg to see if your vehicle is up-to-date. We have a full staff of certified technicians ready to assist you today.