Now, we're getting closer.
I have always lived in the Picardie région, which is in the northern part of France, right above Paris. Paris is situated about a 45-minute drive from my home.
When my dad first arrived in France, he lived in the Aisne département, and that's where I was born. My family lived in a very, very little village called Brancourt-le-Grand. Only 618 people lived there on the year I was born. According to the last census year (2008), there were 625 people there.
I was born in the nearest city: Saint Quentin. My brother and younger sister and many cousins were born there too, in the same hospital.
Shortly after my birth, my parents moved to a bigger village, Fresnoy-le-Grand. It was bigger than Brancourt, with 3729 people on the year I was born, and recently, 3019.
Fresnoy-le-Grand is the first place I can remember, and that's where I've started going to school, at 2 years old.
You may have never heard of Fresnoy, but I'm sure you've heard of something very famous coming from there... Le Creuset!
Yes, the famous enameled cast iron cookware is from my small village.
In fact, my family lived very close to the factory, and my dad worked there for a number of years, until he got sick and we moved to another town.
I have some cousins who worked (or still work) there, whenever I see a Le Creuset plate or dutch oven, I wonder if one of them made it.
If you ever visit France, it's very well worth going to the Le Creuset factory store, where everything is waaay cheaper than anywhere else. The prices of Le Creuset stuff in the US are awful and I'm sad that I can't afford anything decent without wanting to cry about the waste of money.
They're cheaper anywhere in France, but not as much as at the modest factory store.
Of course, it would be best to have an empty or almost empty bag so you won't have to pay too much at the airport! It would also cost a lot to mail them to the US, since they're pretty heavy (my sister said she could send me some but that the post-office fee scared her, and that I should never ask her to mail me a dutch oven. Too bad.)
I grew up with Le Creuset stuff and I can tell they're really great!
Fresnoy-Le-Grand is also known for La Filandière, now classed a historical monument. It was the only place where they still made tapestries and fabric for furniture, using a "métier a tisser Mécanique Jacquard" (mechanical Jacquard loom)
You can visit their museum and expositions.
The area was well-known for making fabrics such as linen, cashmere, etc.
Then there is Le Bourget, which makes socks and hosiery. Its brands are well-known in France and you can buy them cheaper at the factory store in Fresnoy.
I will talk more about the Jacquard weaving and what it did to the region. Perhaps you may have heard of the role of Jacquard in the industrial revolution?