A couple months ago I had the honor of being interviewed by the Office du Tourisme des USA (the French Office of Tourism for the United States). I was asked to share my passion and knowledge of Minnesota for their website. If someone in France is interested in traveling to Minnesota, the hope is that my interview will be helpful in making their plans.
I was interviewed by my friend Delphine Legros. Delphine lives in Paris and works for the Office du Tourisme des USA. I met Delphine through the Sister City exchange program between my hometown in Minnesota and Delphine's in France. Originally she came to Minnesota years ago with the exchange program. When she was ready for an internship during college she returned to Minnesota where she worked with my mom, who was the Director of Tourism.
|This picture was taken in France in 2009. I'm on the left,|
my friend Beka (from Minnesota) is in blue, Delphine
is in purple and my friend Melissa (also from Minnesota)
is in green on the right.
Office du Tourisme des USA ~ Minnesota Interview
Hello, Gabrielle. Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Gabrielle Meyer. I live on the banks of the Mississippi River in Little Falls, Minnesota. Little Falls is located in the center of Minnesota about one hundred miles northwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I’m married to David and we have four children, two girls who are nine and seven and twin boys who just turned three!
What are your professional activities?
Besides being a wife and mother, I am a writer, a historian and a community volunteer. I write historical novels set in Little Falls and I also have a blog I update three times a week.
The city of Little Falls is twinned with Le Bourget in Seine St Denis and you were the President of the Association in Little Falls. Can you tell us about this pairing?
Little Falls is home to amazing history. The most well-known member of our community was Charles A. Lindbergh. His father was a prominent lawyer and his mother a high school chemistry teacher in Little Falls in the 1890’s. Charles went on to become one of the most famous men in history when he flew his monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, across the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Paris, non-stop in 1927. His amazing accomplishment not only connected two nations and opened up air travel for millions of people, but it also brought together the citizens of Little Falls and the citizens of Le Bourget forever. In 1987 a Sister City relationship was formed, and since then delegates from our two cities have been exchanging visits and friendships every two years.
What have you learned from this experience as president?
As a past president of the Sister City Committee, it was my distinct honor to represent Little Falls when I traveled to France in 2009. I, along with twenty other citizens from Little Falls, spent ten days with our French hosts. Through this Sister City relationship, I have learned a great deal about France and the people of that great nation. As a guest, I was treated like royalty, and as a friend, I was treated like family. Through our exchanges, it is my greatest hope that people of both nations will come to a better understanding of our similarities and our differences, celebrating them together.
How is Little Falls a tourist destination?
Because of Charles Lindbergh’s accomplishments, his boyhood home was put on the National Register of Historic Places and is owned and operated as a tourist destination by the Minnesota Historical Society. I worked at the Lindbergh House for ten years before staying home to care for my family and pursue my career as a writer. The Lindbergh House was built in 1906 and is on display for the public to see. There is also a museum and many state-of-the-art exhibits. Little Falls is also home to many other wonderful parks, museums, historic sites and attractions.
You are invested in the tourism of this city for a long time. Where does this passion come from?
My mother was the director of the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau for over twenty years and in that time I volunteered at many of these fine establishments. We have the Minnesota Fishing Museum, the Pine Grove Park Zoo (the second oldest zoo in Minnesota), the Weyerhaeuser & Musser Mansions (now called Linden Hill Conference and Retreat Center), the Morrison County Historical Society and the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park where you can go hiking, camping and fishing. For a more detailed list of attractions visit the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau website.
What are your favorite activities in winter?
Little Falls is also a wonderful place to visit in the winter. When the snow falls and the lakes freeze over, some of my favorite winter activities are ice fishing, ice skating, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. We also love to spend time outside with our family building snowmen and snow forts.
In the summer I love to spend time in the water. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 lakes, but there are actually 11,842 lakes in the state. We have more shoreline in Minnesota than California, Florida and Hawaii combined. Within a thirty mile radius of our home there are over 300 lakes. We love to take our boat on the water and go water skiing, tubing and wake boarding. We also love to swim in the lake, go fishing, have picnics, go hiking, play in the parks, go on bike rides, play golf, go canoeing and spend time at the cabin.
Speaking of cabins, can you explain to the French what it is?
Minnesota is home to thousands of lake cabins. A cabin is a home built on the shores of a lake. Some people live in their lake homes all throughout the year, but most of them only visit their cabins in the summer. Many times we will have a cabin party and invite friends and family to spend time with us. We usually do this on the weekends, but occasionally we’ll take a week or two of vacation and go to the lake and relax. We often have camp fires in the evenings and roast marshmallows and hot dogs over the open flames. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a talented musician in the group who will lead a sing-along of our favorite songs. It is also common for people to light fireworks over the lake on the weekends. It’s a beautiful sight to see over the shimmering water. Many wonderful memories are made on the lakes in Minnesota.
Why would you say that Minnesota is ideal for families?
Because of the four seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall, we have a variety of activities that change throughout the year. In the fall we love to pick apples, go to pumpkin patches, have hay wagon rides and bonfires. In the spring we love to plant our gardens and watch the natural world around us blossom. In summer we spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying our lakes and warm weather, and in the winter we marvel at the beauty of snow and ice. It’s a diverse state and that’s why we love living here.
Why don't you want to live anywhere else?
On my blog one of my favorite topics to write about is Minnesota. I often share a Minnesota Monday blog post where I display pictures of the places we travel and the things we do in Minnesota. I’ve been to forty states in the United States of America, and Minnesota is my favorite. It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
What do you want the French to know about Minnesota?
I hope you’ll come to Minnesota one day. I know you’ll love our state and you’ll want to return often.
And if you want more information about Gabrielle... Gabrielle has written for Minnesota Moments Magazine since 2004. She also blogs three times a week sharing her passion for history, Minnesota and her faith. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or her blog.
Your Turn! Have you ever been to France? Have you ever been to Minnesota? Do you have friends in other countries?