Burlington-Honfleur Sister Cities

Shelburne Boy Scout Troop 602

by Brian Mick, assistant scoutmaster

On April 20, 2014, members of Shelburne’s Boy Scout Troop 602 stepped off the plane and squinted into the bright morning glare. After an overnight flight from cloudy Vermont, bright sunshine was the last thing we expected to see.

Our arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport was the beginning of a week-long tour of historical and memorial sites in England and France. After getting our baggage and clearing customs, we congratulated ourselves for successfully flying across the Atlantic, many of us for the first time.

[The troop visited London, then] took the Eurostar back to Paris and—not without difficulty—rented four vans to drive our crew to Honfleur, France, the sister city of Burlington, Vermont; Samuel de Champlain sailed from this port to the New World many times four hundred years ago.

We visited the local middle school and were greeted enthusiastically by the students. Whispers of Ils sont les américains (“They are the Americans”) could be heard from the students packing the hallways to see us. Our scouts overcame the language barrier and used whatever means necessary—English, French, and gestures—to communicate and become friends with the French students. By the end of the baseball game we played, our scouts and the students were completely intermingled.

2014 Troop 602 visit Honfleur

The 70th Anniversary Camporee was based out of a campground near Omaha Beach, where the U.S. first and 29th Infantry Divisions came ashore on June 6, 1944. The scouts attended an ecumenical service at the Bayeux Cathedral, where a recently cast “Liberty Bell” was unveiled. Troop 602 visited Saint-Mère-Eglise where the 82nd Airborne landed and also visited Utah Beach, another American landing site.

The next morning we made our way to the American Cemetery at Normandy to mark the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Troop 602 held a small, poignant ceremony near the grave of a fallen Vermonter. The ten scouts read the names of 310 veterans that they had collected over the past year, including all the veterans from Shelburne since World War II. We left our small event for the official closing ceremony, where the troop’s bugler had the honor to close with Taps.

2014 Troop 602 visit Normandy cemetery

Troop 602 had spent a year fundraising for this trip. The funds paid for all the food, lodging, and much of the travel expenses for all the scouts. This trip would not have been possible without the generous support of the town of Shelburne, local businesses, and residents. We are grateful for your contribution to scouting and to a trip that will forever remain in the memory of the scouts. Thank you.

2014 Troop 602 visit

A Tale of Two Arts Cities

On June 18-28, 2015, a group of Burlingtonians visited Honfleur, on a trip sponsored by Burlington City Arts and led by Dana vanderHeyden. This “Tale of Two Arts Cities” trip, with nineteen travelers, was a friendly visit to emphasize the arts.

BCA visit, Honfleur, 2015

The group attended the mayor’s annual community dinner at the historic Grenier à Sel, hosted by Mayor Michel Lamarre; and the opening for an exhibition of works by Vermont artist Sabra Field in Salle Carnot. They visited Mont-Saint-Michel, the Normandy Invasion beaches, and the historic Ferme St. Siméon, where noted certain Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet, formerly resided.

Boudin museum

Accompanied by elected officials, the group also attended the inauguration of “Burlington Square” and “Quartier du Vermont” on the city’s outskirts:

BCA visit, Honfleur, 2015

A Meeting in Paris

In October 2015 in Paris, Marc and Dana vanderHeyden met with Pierre Jan, of the Comité de Jumelage. They agreed to press for an official Sister City connection between Honfleur and Burlington.