France: Return of the Native

When Charles de Gaulle was born there 75 years ago, Lille was one of the busiest cities in Europe: a churning, chimneyed conglomeration of machine shops, railway yards, textile mills and candy factories that dominated the French industrial north. But as De Gaulle grew in stature, Lille declined. Last week, when le grand Charles returned to his birthplace on the first political tour of his new administration, he found a city hard hit by unemployment and recession. He also found a frosty reception for a onetime favorite son.

Lille's Socialist Mayor Augustin Laurent and...

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