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Henri MATISSE : Born in Cateau-Cambrésis in 1869. Died in 1954. Painter, draftsman and sculptor

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Henri MATISSE : Born in Cateau-Cambrésis in 1869. Died in 1954. Painter, draftsman and sculptor


Matisse began his career as a painter in 1891, after studying law. After taking classes at the Ecole Quentin la Tour, he spent time at the Académie Jullian, the Ecole des Arts-décoratifs, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Gustave Moreau’s studio. Matisse produced his first paintings after meeting André Derain and being influenced by the Nabis artists. After discovering impressionism, Matisse chose lighter colors and began to paint landscapes. In 1900, he and Albert Marquet decorated the Grand Palais in Paris for the World Fair.
In 1901, after meeting Vlaminck at the annual art exhibition “Salons des indépendants,” he began his fauvist period and dabbled in divisionism. With his work “Luxe, Calme et Volupté,” Matisse became the main protagonist of fauvism and the critics attacked him.
In 1906, Gaugin advised Matisse to use arabesques. He began to paint still life and human figures and then geometric elements with great strictness and sensibility. After meeting Renoir, however, this austere period in Matisse’s career came to an end and he began to paint more realistically, using warmer colors.
In the 1930s, Matisse moved to Cimiez, near Nice, and then to Vence, where he helped decorate the Chapelle du Rosaire.
Matisse produced over 500 etchings, as well as several bronze sculpture series and paintings that now hang in the world’s most celebrated museums. Part of his collection can be viewed at the Musée du Cateau.
Louis BLERIOT : Born in Cambrai in 1872. Died in 1936 in Paris. Engineer and aviator

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Louis BLERIOT: Born in Cambrai in 1872. Died in 1936 in Paris. Engineer and aviator
At the age of 23, after receiving his engineering diploma from France’s Ecole Centrale, Louis Blériot created his first business, “Les phares Blériot.” He wanted to market his own invention: acetylene headlamps.
Blériot became interested in aviation and flight dynamics and in the design and construction of aircraft. He asked Gabriel Voisin to produce prototypes for him, but Blériot’s first inventions were failures. In Neuilly, he established a workshop dedicated to aeronautic research and design.
And then finally came success. The Blériot VII took off and landed without crashing; the Blériot VIII was capable of flying 14 kilometers in 11 minutes. On July 25th, 1909, after honing his piloting skills, he became the first person to fly over the English Channel, from Calais to Dover. He took off near Calais, today known as Blériot-Plage. In Paris, he was welcomed triumphantly.
During WWI, Blériot worked on the SPAD fighter planes and after the war, he continued to produce military aircraft, such as the Blériot Bomber 172/2.
He died on August the 2nd, 1936.
Charles de GAULLE : Born in Lille on November 22, 1890. Died on November 9th, 1970 in Colombey-les-deux-églises. Army General. French President.

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Charles de GAULLE : Born in Lille on November 22, 1890. Died on November 9th, 1970 in Colombey- les-Deux Eglises. Army General. French President.


Charles de Gaulle was the son of a Catholic schoolteacher, who introduced him to Barrès and Péguy. In 1912, he graduated from the St. Cyr military academy and was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in an infantry regiment in Arras, under commanding officer Colonel Henri-Philippe Pétain.
At the beginning of WWII, de Gaulle was wounded in his first fight at Dinant on August 15th, 1914. He was wounded again on March 10th, 1915. And on March 2nd, 1916, his regiment was nearly destroyed. De Gaulle was seriously wounded and taken prisoner. He attempted to escape five times, but his imposing height always gave him away.
When WWII began, de Gaulle was a colonel in Metz, commanding the 507th tank regiment. In 1940, he fought valiantly while leading his regiment at Montcornet.
On June the 1st, de Gaulle temporarily was named brigadier general and on June 6th, 1940, Paul Reynaud named him under-secretary of national defense. He opposed making a truce with the Germans and left France for London on June 15th. Three days later, his famous call came out on the BBC airwaves. In July 1940, was condemned to death in absentia for treason. De Gaulle’s principal thought at that time was to create the free French forces and to defend France’s interests vis à vis the Allied forces.
Relations between de Gaulle and Churchill were often strained, but the British Prime Minister was a significant help. Dealings with the American president, however, were not as easy, as the United States saw France as a victim and not as an ally. It is said that de Gaulle’s attitude and impressively led Resistance would lead people to change their minds.
De Gaulle managed to reach Alger in 1943 even though the Americans—kings of the hill—preferred Darlan and then Giraud. He set up a temporary government that would not be transferred to Paris until September of 1944. After the war, de Gaulle was President for several months, but resigned, disapproving of the new constitution. He set off to cross the desert. In 1958, with the failures of the French Fourth Republic in Indochina and in Algeria, and with great trouble stirring in Alger, de Gaulle was called back to power on June the 1st.
In September, a new constitution was approved by the French population and in December, de Gaulle was re-elected President of France.
During his presidency, de Gaulle fought to strengthen France financially and militarily and refused to submit his country to the United States or to the USSR. He favored both Franco-German reconciliation and the beginnings of the European Union. Internally, de Gaulle ended the war in Algeria in March of 1962 and also modified the constitution so that the President may be elected by universal suffrage. In 1965, he was reelected.
In 1968, de Gaulle confronted the violent demonstrations held by French students. Following the demonstrations was a general strike, which paralyzed the French government. But de Gaulle rose to the occasion. He held elections and the population rallied to him, ending the crisis.
After losing a referendum on a reform proposal, de Gaulle resigned and retired to his family home in Colombey-les-deux-eglises. He died on November 9th, 1970.
Charles de Gaulle was the author of several books, including: The Enemy’s House Divided (1924), The Edge of the Sword (1932), The Army of the Future (1934), France and her Army (1938) and several war memoirs.
Saint PATRICK : Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer around 389. Died in 431. Patron saint of Ireland

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Saint PATRICK : Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer around 389. Died in 431. Patron saint of Ireland.


Captured in Boulogne, he was taken by pirates and sold as a slave to Ireland. His master freed him after 6 years in captivity and Saint Patrick, as he later would be called, left for England. Even though he was the son of a deacon, he was not very religious before being captured. But he turned to religion during his captivity to bear the situation. He became a priest and then left to study for two years at the St. Honorat monastery located near Cannes. He went back to Ireland in 411 to evangelize the country and later, he was ordained bishop under the name Patricius. In 431, he retired to Downpatrick, where he later died.
Franck RIBERY : Born on April 7th, 1983 in Boulogne sur Mer. Athlete

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Franck RIBERY : Born on April 7th, 1983 in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Athlete


At the age of two, Ribery was involved in a car accident that would leave him with scars on his face for life. At the age of six, he began playing football with the FC Conti club in Boulogne-sur-Mer; at twelve, he left to play for the Lille Olympic Sporting Club (LOSC), but was dropped after four years because of poor academic marks. The beginning of his career had its share of ups and downs. Ribéry began to hone his skills at the club Union Sportive Boulogne Côte d’Opale (2001), then at Alès (2002), a club that would go bankrupt. In February 2006, he converted to Islam and adopted “Bilal” as his middle name. His full Islamic name is Bilal Yusuf Mohammed. He is married to Wahiba and is the father of two children: Hiziya and Shahinez. His younger brother, François, plays for Calais RUFC.
Jean-Pierre PAPIN : Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1963. Footballer

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Jean-Pierre PAPIN : Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1963. Footballer


Papin trained in Vichy and debuted his career in 1983. In 1986, he played with the French national team for the first time and that year, France came in third place at the World Cup. He played for the club Olympic de Marseille, where he scored 157 goals in 254 games. And in 1991, he received the ballon d’or (golden ball) and scored the most goals in the French national championship five years running (1988-1992). After spending two years in Italy and one year in Germany, he returned to Bordeaux. In 1998, he ended his professional career.
Dany BOON :   Born in Armentières in 1966. Comedian and actor

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Dany BOON : Born in Armentières in 1966. Comedian and actor


In 1985, Boon began to write comic sketches and to perform stand-up in cafés. And quickly, he won the regional “café-théatre” festival of Armentières. He then moved to Paris and worked various odd jobs to get by. The year 1993 marked the beginning of his career, as he won awards in Montreal, Conflans-Ste-Honorine, Cannes and Belgium. He met French television personality Patrick Sebastian, who put Boon on television for the first time.
After six years of performing a one-man show, Boon put on his first play in 2002: “La vie de chantier.” He also began appearing in films, such as “Joyeux Noël” in 2005. In February 2008, he released the film “Bienvenu chez les Ch’tis” which he wrote and directed and in which he stars. The film was a monumental success and in four weeks, the box office count reached 20 million entries. On April 6th, 2008 the film became the most watched French film in French box-office history.
Nicolas HULOT : Born in Lille on April 30th, 1955. Reporter, ecologist, and writer

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Nicolas HULOT : Born in Lille on April 30th, 1955. Reporter, ecologist, and writer
Hulot began his career as an agency photographer and soon developed a taste for travel and adventure. From 1978-1987, he worked for French radio station France-Inter and innovated reporting techniques by broadcasting his adventures live. From October 1992 to June 1995, he was editor of VSD nature.
From 1987-1995, he produced and hosted the show “Ushuaïa le magazine de l’extrême” on French television station TF1; on the same channel he hosted “Opération Okavango” from January 1996-June 1997. He has been the host of the television show “Ushuaïa nature” since 1998. He is the creator of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Man.
Marguerite CLEENEWERCK de CRAYENCOUR known as Marguerite YOURCENAR : Born in Brussels in 1903. Died on Mount Desert Island in 1987. Writer

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Marguerite YOURCENAR : Born in Brussels in 1903. Died on Mount Desert Island in 1987. Writer
Born in Brussels, Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour, was the daughter of a French father of aristocratic descent and of a Belgian mother, who died 10 days after Yourcenar’s birth. She grew up in her paternal grandmother’s home and was raised by her father—an anti-conformist who loved travel. Yourcenar spent her winters in Lille and her summers, until WWI broke out, at a family home on the Mont Noir in Saint-Jans-Cappel, located in the north of France.
Her first poem was published in 1921 under the pen name “Yourcenar,” an anagram for Crayencour.
Her father died in 1929 and ten years later, she decided to leave for the United States to join her friend, Grace Frick. Yourcenar became an American citizen in 1947 and spent the rest of her life in the U.S.
She was elected to the Académie royale belge in 1970 and to the Académie Française in 1981. She died in the United States, after travelling extensively.
Pierre MAUROY : Born in Cartignies in 1928. Politician

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Pierre MAUROY : Born in Cartignies in 1928. Politician
Mauroy attended Cambrai High school and went to on study at the Cachan apprenticeship school.
Very young, he joined the Socialist Party and became involved in politics. In 1950, he became national secretary of the Socialist Young Movement. In 1952, Mauroy became a technical teacher in Colombes. Little by little, he worked his way up the Socialist Party ladder and in 1971, the mayor of Lille called Mauroy to join his team.
When Augustin Laurent resigned in 1973, Mauroy became the mayor of Lille and held this position until 2001. In 1973, he also became a member of the National Assembly for the “Nord” department. François Mitterrand named Mauroy Prime Minister from 1981-1984. Mauroy carried out the President’s reform promises concerning nationalization, decentralization, social laws, increasing purchasing power, and abolishing the death penalty. But, with France’s economic crisis at hand, Mauroy had to cut his actions short. Municipal elections in 1983 and European elections in 1984 proved failures and Mauroy decided to resign in 1984.
Mauroy was reelected to the National Assembly in 1986 and opted to join the Senate in 1992. He led the PS (Socialist Party) from 1988 to 1992. Currently, Mauroy is the President of the Urban Community of Lille and still holds his seat as a senator. Today, Martine Aubry holds the position of mayor of Lille.
Pierre Mauroy is the author of several books including: Héritiers de l’avenir (1977), A gauche (1985), and Parole de Lillois (1994).
Gérard MULLIEZ : Born in Roubaix in 1931. CEO of the Auchan group

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Gérard MULLIEZ : Born in Roubaix in 1931. CEO of the Auchan group


In 1960, Mulliez traveled to the United States and on the advice of his father, attended a seminar led by Bernardo Trujillo, the “father” of mass retail. Shortly thereafter, Mulliez set up shop in Roubaix in a former 600 square meter textile factory. Three years later, Mulliez’s father pointed out that his son’s business was not making a dime. For Mulliez, this was a wake-up call and he decided to put into action the ideas that he had been debating with his employees. Three years later, his business was more than profitable. A while earlier, Mulliez had received some good advice from Edouard Leclerc and Marcel Founier (founder of Carrefour).
When Gérard Mulliez opened his first supermarket in Roncq in 1967, Bernard Fournier (the son of Marcel Fournier) gave him the plans of the Carrefour supermarket built in Vénissieux. The Fournier family also advised him to sell discounted products. Mulliez took the advice and began with whisky. The group grew, but with the idea that they want to remain independent. So, they created a new store only when the previous one built became profitable.
Mulliez decided to concentrate his efforts within France, focusing on developing new sectors of activity, rather than trying to expand internationally. This desire to expand and develop his business in France led to the creation of Leroy Merlin (DIY), Décathalon (Sports), Kiabi (Clothing), Boulanger (Electronics), and Flunch (Restaurant), among others. The group continued to expand, focusing on the commercial needs around large shopping complexes. Today, Gérard Mulliez is estimated to hold the third largest fortune in France. Gérard Mulliez was at the helm of Auchan for 45 years and retired in 2006. Today, Auchan remains a family business and his nephew, Vianney Mulliez, acts as president.