FRENCH TODAY

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After the heyday of the French presence in New Mexico, mostly during the 18th and 19th centuries, World War I was a turning point. A few French business entrepreneurs and artists continued to arrive to make their homes there, but their overall presence significantly decreased. It is estimated that about 1,000 French citizens, many of them bi-national, now live in New Mexico, but only about 300 were registered at the French consulate in 2018. They are active in many sectors of the economy, mostly in the restaurant and hospitality industries. The Alliance Française of Albuquerque promotes French language and culture and organizes French courses. The honorary French consul provides administrative support to French citizens in liaison with the French Consulate in Los Angeles. There is also cooperation with French public agencies and private businesses.

A breathtaking French American cooperation in New Mexico is the Mars 2020 Rover Project studying the planet Mars’ history and habitability and preparing for future human missions. The SuperCam component of the project examines rocks and soil with a camera, laser, and spectrometers to seek organic compounds that could be related to past life on the planet. The project is directed by an American principal investigator in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and by a French deputy principal investigator in Toulouse, France. They are assisted by a team and various collaborators of 53 people (as of December 2018), over half of whom are French.