The 30th Anniversary of BFA's Tour
Of Genolhac, France
The 2023 BFA Group outside Jean Pierre Bondurant's birthplace, 42 Le Grand Rue, Genolhac. The plaque installed by BFA in 1993 is on the top left above the door. (L-R) Bruno Meline, Marsha Miller, Bruce Ramsdell, Terrie West, Eugenie Bondurant, Tom BonDurant, Susan Recla, Julie Mastroianni, Betsy Sandidge-Dyce, Cynthia Louise Moore, Marcelle Hoffman, David Bondurant, Serge Bondurant, and Pascal Jaussaud.
It was a magical tour that paralleled JulesLarimore’s picturesque novel about the youth of our immigrant ancestor Jean Pierre Bondurant, titled The Muse of Freedom. We were able to visualize his life and travels in the precipitous terrain of the Cevennes Mountains. This was an area of Huguenot revolt in Occitan-speaking southern France.
Our tour guides pointed out that only 100 years ago these mountains were mostly treeless. The inhabitants lived self-sufficiently by growing everything they needed on the steep valley walls after clearing the trees and terracing the slopes. We gazed up in wonder at the hand-built stone ledges which still can be seen layering the steep mountain sides.
We visited Roman cities and aqueducts, castles, bridges, forts, churches, battle sites, graveyards, museums, and ancient and modern factories. We stayed in charming hotels and experienced the finest of French cuisine. The bus ride was harrowing at times as we squeezed through narrow passages and around sharp turns. Cascading water and chestnut trees decorated the journey. The drama of the Huguenot struggle was stunningly illustrated. At times, I was quite emotionally moved.
One of the highlights was the tour of the nine-bedroom Bondurant home in the village of Génolhac that is now owned by Loic Breton. Loic opened his home and served a picnic in the courtyard of this 900-year-old mansion. The greatest moment was the ceremony in the mairie (city hall) where speeches and gifts were exchanged. Many dignitaries and even some local Bondurant descendants were there to celebrate the 30 years of friendship since the Bondurants’ first return to Génolhac in 1993. Loic Breton gave me town history material which I plan to digitize and distribute. And there is talk of another tour for 2024. It may be even more directly associated to the events in the Jules Larimore book, The Muse of Freedom. Stay tuned!
See you soon!
Bruce Ramsdell, President
2023 Homeland Tour Commemorative Coin Is Now Available
The Board of BFA has commissioned a commemorative coin to mark the 30th Anniversary of the BFA’s visit to Génolhac in 1993. The coins and a plaque were presented to local dignitaries during the ceremony of welcome in the Mairie (mayor’s office) on Friday, September 15th. (More details about the ceremony and the tour will be in the December newsletter.)
The front of the two-inch, zinc alloy coin reads “Bondurant Family Association” and “Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac” on the border in gold with dark blue enamel. A figure representing our immigrant ancestor, Jean Pierre Bondurant, is in the red-enameled center with “Cevenol” (a person of the Cevennes area of France) above the figure, “Génolhac 1697” (the date JPB left Génolhac) and “Jamestown 1700” (the date he landed in Virginia) on either side.
The reverse of the coin has “Bondurant Family Association” and “2023 Bondurant Homeland Tour” on the dark blue enamel border, a large Huguenot cross with the dove in the red-enamel center, “30 ans d’amitié” and “30 years of friendship” above and below the cross, and “Génolhac 1993” and “America 2023” on either side.
The remaining coins are available for purchase from BFA for $15.00 each, plus $15.00 per order for USPS Priority shipping and handling. If you would like to have one (or more) for your own collection or for gifts fill out the Form Here and mail to BFA Treasurer. Quantity is limited, so be sure to place your order soon.