Since she and some of her colleagues were making a presentation of their research work at a scientific congress in Toronto, Ontario, in the late summer of 2009, she and JPA, her husband, decided to travel by VIA Rail to see western Canada after the congress.
The title of her presentation at the congress was: “The Isotopic Comparative Method for SIMS Quantification of Boron up to 40%”. SIMS (“Secondary Ion Mass Spectometer”) is an apparatus able to measure atoms and is used, for example, with electronic and nano materials. She has proposed a new method to measure some atomic species easily in a range where it was difficult to do it previously. She is one of a team of four persons to develop this work. She finds that it is really exciting! (See .)
Christiane was born in Bourges, a pleasant city in central France, known for its Gothic cathedral, Her parents were farmers in the small village of Saint-Michel de Volangis (450 inhabitants), located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Bourges. The first school which she attended, when she was five years old, was in this village. There was only one teacher for twenty children, five to fourteen years old, in six grades. It is interesting that Saint-Michel is the most frequent name of villages in France like Springfield in the USA! From age eleven to age eighteen, she continued her studies in a girls’ boarding-school in Bourges.
Villefontaine, where she now lives, is 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Lyon. She works in Villeurbanne, another town close to Lyon.
She obtained an engineering diploma in physics at L’Institut National des Sciences Appliquées in Lyon. This institution produces about 700 engineers each year after five years of study. (See http://www.insa-lyon.fr/en/insa-lyon.) She completed her thesis at University of Paris XI.
Christiane had long desired to work in scientific research and eventually achieved her goal in the field of materials in microelectrons at Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. She is fascinated with her activities in namomaterials, a field which takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology.
Villefontaine is a very special city! It is a new town resulting from General Charles De Gaulle’s concept of creating new towns to counterbalance the large cities of Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. From five little villages, including hers with its 500 inhabitants in 1970, the planners hoped to have a city of 400 000 inhabitants in 2000. However, the project was reduced in 1980, resulting in almost 100 000 people now. This includes other small, older towns in an urban area of 20 kilometres (12 miles) by 10 kilometres (6 miles), situated 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of Lyon. When Christiane and JPA arrived, it had the atmosphere of being “far west”!
As young married couples with small children settled here, new schools appeared every year. Experimental districts with special houses of concrete, wood, mud, or straw mushroomed. There were architectural successes and failures. Now, there are 20 000 “Villards” (name of the Villefontaine’s inhabitants) half of them having come from Lyon or surrounding area and the other half having originated elsewhere. There is a large number of paths on which to walk, several ponds, and sometimes one can see an immense, graceful mountain Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps not far in the background. Overall, Villefontaine, is a very desirable centre in which to live! There are still a youth spirit and movement and numerous associations to join.
Villefontaine receives only a couple of days of snowy weather in winter. However, what havoc it causes with the traffic movement during that time! Cars, buses, and even trains are brought to a standstill, making it impossible to go to work. Despite the isolation from one’s place of employment, the snow does provide exercise and fun. On such a day, JPA enjoys going outside and constructing an igloo. It is also very gratifying to walk and enjoy the winter wonderland with the many beautiful settings created by snow or frost. For Christiane, winter can be such a beautiful season.
She has often ridden the famous TGV trains, especially between Lyon and Paris. TGV has four main lines with special railroads that permit 300 km/h (186 mph). These are South-east (Paris – Lyon – Marseille or Montpellier); South-west (Paris – Tours or Le Mans); North (Paris – Lille – London or Brussels) and East (Paris – Strasbourg).
The most impressive part for Christiane is the line between Tours and Paris where the railroad parallels the highway. The automobiles seem to crawl like turtles as the train whizzes by at 300 kmph (186 mph). On the line between Lyon and Montpelier, the towns and countryside portray a scenic vista. The tracks follow the Rhône Valley, with several points of interest long bridges across the river, many typical vineyards, old castles, and quaint villages. In the south are typical Provence landscapes named “garrigue” (lavender, small trees, rocks) and the approach of the Mediterranean Sea. She knows someone who takes advantage of the velocity of these trains to commute daily from Paris to Lyon a distance of 500 km (310 miles)! Such a trip would take under two hours.
She and JPA travelled the whole length of the route of the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver on this their first visit to Canada. As they traversed expansive Canada aboard the VIA Rail Canadian, she found her fellow passengers were so friendly, helping to provide a relaxing atmosphere for a long journey. Since English is not her first language, she would have appreciated hearing a little more information in French to help her better understand what was being described.
From the western terminus of the railway, they continued by ferry and bus to the Pacific side of Vancouver Island. It was such a pleasure to see the various parts of this vast country. However, like other visitors to Canada and Canadians, too she was particularly enthralled with the majestic Rocky Mountains. The only regret was that she did not see a beaver, an animal that is so rare in her native France.
She enjoyed Vancouver Island immensely. After a tiring congress, it was a welcome change with palm-trees, the waves of the Pacific, and the proximity of wild nature. She also savoured a delicious seafood plate with huge oysters in a typical area restaurant. Such memories she took home with her!
Christiane is a dedicated train rider, much preferring this mode of transportion to the automobile, for which she has no love. In addition to France and Canada, she has travelled on the railways of Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and England, particularly enjoying the travel in Switzerland. In the future, she would like to return to Canada and visit La Belle Province de Québec. May her dream be realized!
(This page was updated in October 2012.)