“To remember where you come from is part of where you’re going.”
It is fortunate indeed that Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, a small village about 25 miles east of Paris. Had he been born at a much greater distance from the capital city, who knows if his teachers would have heard about, or if he would have attended, the Royal School for the Blind in Paris. But he did … and the rest, as they say, is history.
Here and here are some links to photographs of Coupvray and to the Braille family home for use in your classroom … and here you can visit the official website of the town of Coupvray (just 20 miles from Disney Europe, in fact) and read about its Braille museum and list of events in both French and English.
If you know anything about France and its geography, you may recall that the country is divided into more than 80 “departments,” (think large counties). Coupvray lies in the department known as “Seine et Marne”—named after the two rivers which flow through the region (the Seine is the one we usually see flowing under the bridges in Paris-based movies) known historically as Ile-de France.
In Louis’s time, the village was rural and depended on agriculture (the Brailles had a small vineyard, a large garden, a cow, and chickens) and a few trades (such as Simon Braille’s harness-making-and repair shop) for its survival. Coupvray remained relatively rural until the second half of the 20th century, when development in the region between Paris and the smaller villages to the east and north began to transform the pastoral nature of Braille’s hometown.