Winchester Resident Receives French National Honor


By Shukong Ou


Oct 7 - Summer Street resident Barbara Bouquegneau, President and Executive Director of the French Library, was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government. The ceremony took place September 28, 2023 in Boston, at the French Library, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of French language and culture.


Consul Général de France in Boston Mustafa Soykurt pinned the decoration after giving a speech recapping Bouquegneau’s career. The ceremony was moving as Bouquegneau turned to address her daughters, Liana and Olivia, at the end of her speech.


Among her many successful projects, Bouquegneau managed a multi-million-dollar renovation of the French Library building on Marlborough Street, including raising a skylight one story above its original location. The French Library houses the largest private collection of French books in the United States, and offers French language classes, cooking workshops, and a full cultural program in English and French.


For more on the French Academic Palms:


The French Academic Palms recognizes those who have rendered eminent service to French education and have contributed actively to the prestige of French culture.  For those who are named and promoted in the Order of the French Academic Palms (l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques), this esteemed distinction acknowledges their merits, talents, and exemplary activities.


“Napoleon I first created the palmes académiques as an honorary title to recognize members of the University in 1808.  The academic palms became a decoration in 1866, under Napoléon III, at which time the honor was also extended to non-teaching persons who had rendered illustrious service to French education. Thus, the academic palms is the oldest non-military French decoration.


“By decree of Président René Coty, the Order of the Academic Palms was instituted in 1955 as the first of ministerial orders recognized by the French Republic and was defined by three ranks: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), and Commandeur (Commander).


“In addition, both foreigners and French living abroad who contribute actively to the expansion of French education and culture in the world may also be recognized.”


Shukong Ou is a precinct 2 Town Meeting Member.

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