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http://www.cyndislist.com/france.htm French area of Cyndi's List
Robert Behra's list of Alsace sites - Check these first for your Alsace roots.
French villages names often refer to local areas, rivers, geographic places. Examples: Aix-en-Provence (Aix in the Provence region), Aix-les-Bains (Aix the Baths or spring waters), sur = on the __ river. Morville-sur-Nied (dept. Meurthe-et-Moselle)
"Près" means near ("bei" in German), so Eberbach-Seltz (or Eberbach bei Selz or Eberbach-près-Seltz) is the Eberbach near Seltz, to distinguish it from Eberbach-Woerth (Eberbach bei Wörth or Eberbach-près-Woerth), a town which was merged with Gundershoffen 28 Aug 1973. Seltz is Seltz (Selz in German) and there is only one of them. In 1990 it had 2,584 people, compared with only 311 for Eberbach-Seltz which is about 5 km to the northwest. You could certainly have relatives in both places. Robert Behra
You are correct with the meaning of "en" and "sur" ("sur" is normally followed by the name of a river, or "sur Mer" = "by the sea").
The situation of "les" is less simple. It may indeed mean "the" (plural),
e.g. "Aix les Bains" ("the baths"). However, in many other instances it means
"near" (usually with a grave accent on the "e", sometimes also written "lez" -
It is derived from an old root which is no more used in French, only in names of
towns : e.g. "Vandoeuvre les Nancy" which is a town close to Nancy).
Here's a common sense reason for duplicate village or town names and their identifying appendages: people settling an area might reasonably but unknowingly have used a name that was actually the name of a town somewhere else. People talking about one of these towns would have to use some identifying factor to differentiate one from another - Smithtown by the mill - Smithtown in the forest - Smithtown to the south - Smithtown the spa - Smithtown near the border - Smithtown Junction - and on and on. These names hang on and become institutionalized because they are essential to convey precise meaning. As people began to travel more, it became increasingly important to know one distant town from another. One wouldn't want to undertake a long journey to Smithtown Hills, only to find one had been expected at Smithtown Crossing, after all. Of course, if the other Smithtown is so far away that you'll never want to go there - it doesn't need an identifying modifier and can be plain Smithtown. That's the way it goes - a simple human reason for seeming confusion - actually the result of a search for certainty! Boston used to be surrounded by towns that were all Newton-something-or-other ... maybe it still is, or maybe they've been wrapped into greater Boston. That's an easy US example. Same phenomenon world-wide, probably.
-- Virginia Guertin Egan Crawford (Ginny)
From: email@example.com John Crossley, Sacramento, California
To type letters with umlauts or accents, hold down the ALT key and type the appropriate numbers on the numeric keypad (will not work with numbers across top of keyboard).
Useful for French: à-133 è-138 é-130 ç-135 â-131 ê-136 ô-147 û-150
And for the Macintosh users among us: press then ä- option-u a ë- option-u e ö- option-u o ü- option-u u ß- option-s Ä- option-u shift-A Ö- option-u shift-O Ü- option-u shift-U
and for the French à- option-` a è- option-` e é- option-e e ç- option-c â- option-i a ê- option-i e ô- option-i o û- option-i u
This is not a complete list; many others exist in MS-DOS. These work in MS-DOS, QBasic, word processors, and most other programs. There are 256 HTML tags for Icelandic harp, etc, but alt-numeric pad does not work for them. I have not found any method for inserting these HTML character entities except: View, Edit Source Document.
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