Category Archives: France

France: The Normandy Coast and my ancestral ties

by Trishann Couvillion

4 December 2015

France is pretty spectacular. In ways that are lovely, amazing, frustrating and awe-inspiring. The pristine monuments and coastal lines, the mesmerizing food and beautiful broad streets to walk upon as well as the areas of the cities that are decrepit and full of neglect and debris. The French people who are kind and helpful and the ones that are callous and curt. The country if made up of what you may have heard and many things that you may never know of unless you experience it for yourself.

My current travels bring me to Europe for six months. Though because I was unwilling to go through the hassle of securing a travel visa before I left the states, I can only travel within the Schengen Zone for 90 days of the 180 days or so that I’ll be in Europe. So sadly, I will have to leave France and Italy in another month. And though my plan was to spend time in Croatia, Prague and the Czech Republic as well, the current migration and border issues as well as my lack of travel visa have made me change course. This is alright, mostly because I am an avid planner and I was hoping to loosen up a bit during my travels and become open to the unexpected. In that way, I have been blessed. France, Italy, England and now Scotland and Ireland are on the itinerary. Definitely excited about what is on my horizon.

As a documentary photographer it has been my dream for a number of years to head to Europe to not only explore and photograph but to find out more about my ancestry. I am half Native American and half French, though due to my parents not knowing much about our ancestors I never had much to go on. Well, thanks to what is now available in the way of online research I have been able to trace back my paternal ancestry almost 500 years to the Normandy Coast in the upper most northern part of France. The town of Rouen (where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431) and the small fishing village of Dieppe is where my ancestors hail since at least the mid 1500’s. As the first major port and what became the most important one in Europe at the time, my ancestors most likely built there lives around this industry.


Dieppe, France on the most northern tip of the Normandy Coast, right on the beautiful English Channel

A few weeks after arriving in Paris in October 2015, I took a trip by train to Dieppe to continue my research and walk the earth my ancestors roamed. Having been lucky enough to have met and spoke with a few local Dieppe historians who pointed me to a special area of their library for research on ancient family history. An older French gentleman who did not speak English and yet when he was able, after my basic French and well developed hand gestures, to deduce the reason why I was there, produced for me two original written registers from the two Catholic churches in Dieppe, St. Remy and St. Jacques cathedrals and I found that a number of my ancestors were married in them. To see their personal handwritten names as well as small paragraphs about themselves and their marriages was awesome. Between the 1500’s and the 1600’s my family grew in the area.

There is an area of land named Quévillon in the Normandy Coast area France as well as one named Lebel sur Quévillon in a region of Québec, Canada.


Dieppe is still the fishing village it has been for me, find the fisherman and purchase freshly caught Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops)


Jean Ango was also a well known Dieppe native and ship owner who is worth noting as he provided ships for King Francis I as well as for exploration around the globe. France colonized new territories around the globe because of his ships and the men who manned them. My 7x great grandfather Adrien Quevillon was born in 1641 in nearby Rouen, (where Joan of Arch was burned at the stake in 1431) and he was the first one to leave France in 1672 with the opportunity to leave aboard a ship to Montréal to work and help continue colonizing this area for France. After starting a business and then marrying a woman who was also originally from France, Jeanne Hunault, they started a family. Sadly the Iroquois took the family siege and scalped and killed Adrian and the following day one of his daughters, 12 year old François Angélique, was then burned alive while her mother and sister were forced to watch. His wife was then forced to accept the advances of one of the chiefs by whom she had a child, a son, who was born in 1698 and named Louis Augustin (Courval). After a time her other daughter, Catherine, was able to return to their people and then sent for her mother and her little brother. They lived the rest of their days amongst their family in Pointe-aux-Trembles Canada, working as ‘Cordiers’, rope makers.


A records book containing information about Adrien Quévillon and his wife Jeanne Hunault in 1672.

Many other of my Quévillon ancestors lived their lives between the cities and in tiny country areas of Rouen and Dieppe, most likely working in the fishing industry. In the 16th and 17th centuries Dieppe had a population of at least 20,000 and today there is approximately 30,000 inhabitants so the city is still similar today as it has been for many years.


Marriage registration for one of my ancestors Francois Quévillon and his bride Elizabeth Jeué, in Dieppe France in 1698.

In the later part of the 18th century my 5x great grandfather Adrien Amable Couvillon (Quevillon), great grandson of Adrien Quévillon, migrated from Canada and down into New Orleans. And this is when our family name morphed from Quévillon to Couvillon and then later to Couvillion. There is still research to do to find the exact reason why our last name changed, though I assume it either had to do with the migration from Canada into the United States or the creole and cajun French surroundings of Louisiana.

As I continue to explore my family history it makes me even more curious about not only my paternal side but also my maternal ancestry and I look forward to the forensic challenge of finding all I can, including a trip to Salt Lake City and the Family Library which houses the most comprehensive collection of millions of worldwide records, in various forms, that relate to individuals and families.

Understanding the bigger picture of where my family comes from, where I come from and how we got to where we are today has broadened my reality. To realize you are a part of something greater, something living and breathing and continuing, is a strange and wonderful thing. The sobering affect it has had on my attitude and grasp of my life and how special and at the same time completely ordinary living is has been thought provoking. It has also helped me understand parts of myself that are deeply imbedded within my DNA. Finding that what makes me tick has some reason and rhythm behind it now. That sense of place has been life affirming for me and my curiosity drives me forward to discover all I can.

Sidenote for Couvillion family members: Here is a list of our ancestors so you can understand who are grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents were as well as our ancestors going back to the mid 1500’s in France:

9x Great Grandparents-(Unknown first name ) Quévillon and wife

8x Great Grandparents-Nicholas Quévillon & Marie Jacqueline Vauquelin

7x Great Grandparents-Adrien Quévillon & Jeanne Hunault

6x Great Grandparents-Jean-Baptiste Quévillon & Maire-Jeanne Monineau

5x Great Grandparents-Adrien Quévillon & Marie-Françoise Boullerise

4x Great Grandparents-Adrien Amable Couvillon & Marie Ann Pourceau

3x Great Grandparents-Adrien Couvillon & Celeste Mayeux

2x Great Grandparents-Martin Couvillon & Marguerite LaCour

1x Great Grandparents-Ferdinand Couvillion & Bertha Mayeux

(Something is amiss with Bertha’s death date and Heman Joseph’s birthdate…will update when I find out correct information)

Grandparents-Heman Joseph Couvillion & Lillian Ponthieux

My Cousins Parents-Joseph Couvillion & Martha Couvillion (maiden name?)

(Additional wives names unknown to me-Joey, please send me info!)

My Parents-Danny Couvillion & Darlene Couvillion

If you are my relative, send me a Facebook message with your email address and I can add you to the online account of our family tree, this way you can access more information and help me fill in missing details on some profiles, like photographs and correct birth, death and location information!

There are still aspects of information that are unclear so I will continue to refine this list and update their profiles online. Check back every few months on these links if you like!

Any mistakes are my own.

© Trishann Couvillion 2015 | No images to be used without written permission

Paris: Café Culture

2 December 2015

_MG_1563The café culture in Paris is a way of life. And this culture, if anything, sets apart the French from the rest of the world. A Parisian is going to stop into a café with someone or alone. They are going to sit down, light up a cigarette and order an espresso, beer or glass of wine. The will in no way be inclined to do anything other than take in the moment and watch people as they walk by. Not one of them will pull out a laptop or proceed to be ‘productive’. A French waiter will never bring you the check until you ask for it. Usually at least twice. You’re practically expected to wile away hours sipping and talking. This is why the Parisian café exists.

As an American I find it difficult to partake in this aspect of their culture. Not because I don’t enjoy espresso and people watching, because trust me, I do! It’s because I not only don’t speak the French language more than ‘un petit peu’, but I also don’t smoke. Add to the fact that I am highly allergic to cigarette smoke and there is no way to find a café where you are not bombarded with it the moment you sit down. This seemingly lovely cultural pass time is wherein lies the widest chasm for me. Even though my ancestry is from Northern France in the Normandy Coast that goes back over 500 years…Je suis Américaine, Je ne suis pas Française.



Relationships between people in France seem very intimate. The double kiss upon greeting, as well as depature. The closeness of couples in public. The sense of comfortability in who they are and how they interact with one another is apparent. Within cities, there are large amounts of individuals who keep to themselves, but those who partake in engaging with others have a welcoming atmosphere to connect.



Café Bonaparte in the 16éme arrondissement at 42 Rue Bonaparte is my personal favorite café in Paris. Wonderful service, food and drink. As well as a perfect corner for people watching.

As an American I do hope to find a way to let the inspiration of French café culture make a difference in how I approach my day to day life. My favorite way to breathe and take a moment is to go for a walk. A walk around my neighborhood, a walk around the lake, a stroll through the city, venturing out when I travel and walking all over the place. That is my favorite way to experience life, though I have to say for the most part it is very solitary. Making a shift in how I spend my free time is something I feel as though I need to do to start letting people back into my life.




The Paris café of yesteryear still graces the essence of the modern day café. Enjoy it if you can!

©2015 Trishann Couvillion   |   Images not to be used without permission

Paris in Silence

Paris, France – During and after the terrorist attacks.

13-16 of November 2015

This is a personal account of my own experience in the wake of the Paris Terrorist Attacks that took place on 13 November 2015 and the days following. I am a photojournalist currently living in Paris, Montmartre the 18th arrondissement, for a few months and am originally from the United States in Seattle, Washington. I had been living in Paris less than 6 weeks when the attacks occurred. A few days after the attacks it was also confirmed that a car rented by one of the terrorists was found parked a few blocks from where I’m living. Officials believe plans were aborted to also stage an attack in the 18th arrondissement. Any informational mistakes are mine alone.

Right near Le Bataclan the morning after the terrorist attacks.

Right near Le Bataclan the morning after the terrorist attacks.


Le Bataclan with Eagles of Death Metal marquee still up

On any given day in Paris the city is bustling with people. On their way to work, going into and out of the train stations, some selling goods on the streets, others saying Bonjour to you as you pass by. But sadly Saturday 14 November 2015 was a day of mourning. Throughout a majority of the city almost no one is out this day and the streets lay quiet. This afternoon my friend and also a photographer, Adrian Funk and I went to the 11th and 10th arrondissements to see and photograph the aftermath of the prior nights terrorist attacks. Police had the areas barricaded, media was present and a handful of others were expressing bewilderment, taking photographs and leaving memorials of candles and flowers.

One woman spoke to the media about race issues and expressed anger at the conflict.

One woman spoke to the media about race issues and expressed anger at the conflict.

Flowers and message laid in Remembrance near Le Bataclan

Flowers and message laid in Remembrance near Le Bataclan

Shopkeepers and restaurant owners alike all throughout Paris have their storefronts closed up. Only a deep and overwhelming fear could push these lively people into the safety of their homes, to dwell on what had happened the night prior. And to dwell on the notion that not one of us knew what today would bring. Usually as Saturday turns into evening in Paris it brings abundant and lively energy to every café and boulevard across the city. But this evening there was no laughter. There was no plume of cigarette smoke wafting away from little café tables usually filled with people talking and laughing and drinking and smoking. The weather had been cool all day, the tube held almost no passengers and the streets are dry and silent into the night. The beautiful external lights were no lit like usual around the Sacré Coeur Cathedral just 200 meters to the left of my flat in Montmartre, the 18th arrondissement of Paris. A silent yet laconic essence that portrays the mournful hearts of those who abide here hangs heavy in the air. 

Champs Elysées about 24 hours after the Paris terrorist attacks - Usually on a Saturday night this boulevard is densely populated.

Champs Elysées about 24 hours after the Paris terrorist attacks – Usually on a Saturday night this boulevard is densely populated.

Pigalle tube station 24 hours after attacks. On a typical Saturday night the train stations are fully packed with people out enjoying the evening throughout Paris.

Pigalle tube station 24 hours after attacks. On a typical Saturday night the train stations are fully packed with people out enjoying the evening throughout Paris.

Leaving Pigalle tube station. Usually it's a mad rush of people all exiting the station at once.

Leaving Pigalle tube station. Usually it’s a mad rush of people all exiting the station at once.

Place de Clichy is an extremely vibrant and edgy part of Paris that is usually packed with people on a Saturday night.

Place de Clichy is an extremely vibrant and edgy part of Paris that is usually packed with people on a Saturday night.

Less than twenty four hours ago terror forced it’s way through the city. Men with absolute hatred in their heart, in united force began to take the lives of innocent people using machine guns and suicide vests. As word of the terrorist attacks quickly spread through social media, people quickly started vacating the streets. Over a number of areas, some close and some far from the city centre, terrorists laid claim to the lives of at least 129 people while injuring upwards of 380 more. Lives were ended during brief and brutal moments of invasion. Swift, abrupt, relentless, merciless. Men and women were executed, point blank, for no other reason than to prove a point. Fear and blood were used to cause awe, shock and terror from the twisted beliefs of just a few.

13 November Paris, France

11:28pm – 13 November Paris, France – This image was taken during the attacks. Friday evenings are usually vibrant with streets full of people. As word quickly spread through social media of the terrorist attacks, people vacated the streets.

1:46am - 14 November 2015 Paris, France

1:46am – 14 November 2015 Paris, France – The sound of police sirens was constant all throughout the night.

Sunday morning brought with it blue sky and the sun. It felt like a kiss from heaven after the sheer terror and confusion of the last 36 hours. Though the people of the city still did not come out. The few on the streets were mostly visiting from anywhere else, including myself. This isn’t our home that was just fired upon. It’s easier to walk down the street when you know every one of your tomorrows won’t be a reminder of the death that knocked at your door. Senseless and astounding, it’s difficult to grasp the why. Why did it have to happen this way? Why did they have to kill and injure so many? Why did they have a belief that was so strong that death seemed to be a way to prove it? Why?

As Monday came and the people of Paris had no choice but to come out from behind their shaded windows and warm, safe homes to make their way to work with sullen hearts and yet a knowing that life had to continue to move forward even if their hearts yet had not. Aside from the media, no one talks about it yet. The shock has not worn off. The confusion has not yet rendered itself. Acceptance is not yet a part of reality. My guess is that sadness will slowly begin to turn into rage. Love for a city and a country will cause some individuals to stand up and fight. War in many ways and on many levels is inevitable. It could be the war of retaliation. French bombs on Syria. War of race and religion. It could also be an individual war, a resistance of fear. A fierce determination to not let the enemy win, to not let them take away our freedom to live our lives without fear. A strong desire to freely walk down the street, to meet up with loved ones, to enjoy time out again. A desire to feel human without a sodden grip of terror. 

It’s Monday evening now. The sky has finally allowed itself to shed tears over Paris. The dark night and delicate rain are showing their solemn allegiance. Broken hearts, crushed dreams, devastated families and a heartbroken city, all for naught. 

And yet, some Parisians are determined not to waste hatred on terrorism!

Watch this short video here to see one man’s amazing response to his wives death at the hands of the terrorists:

Well hello there! It’s been a long while….

And I have missed you. Since we last spoke so many things have happened in my life. My prior musings here began just after I had moved to New Orleans around Halloween 2012. My time there was wonderful, albeit it brief. Luckily, I was recently in NOLA for Jazz Fest 2015 ….and to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday with friends! It was fun! Bourbon & Blues baby!

The reason I have been quiet is that many things, some rather traumatic things have happened since I moved back to Seattle around the beginning of 2013. I landed a full time medical photography job which was wonderful and intense and challenging as I was training in some additional technologies I hadn’t worked with before. I was dating someone who I had grown deeply in love with and yet was rather overwhelmed by as well. After awhile it was best we end our relationship due to the hurtful nature that our relationship had taken, which was difficult but necessary. And in the summer of 2013, just 3 week after purchasing my very first brand new car, I was involved in an auto accident where a semi-truck hit three automobiles and totaled my new car. It only had 675 miles on it. AND it happened while I was on my way to the airport to fly to Long Beach, California for a 4-day weekend to celebrate my birthday. My injuries were ones that progressed after the day of the accident and have altered my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Within a few weeks after the accident I started to experience horrific, jolt-awake-half-scared-to-death nightmares revolving around the accident. Giant heavy things falling out of the sky and almost crushing me, hard heavy objects slamming into me. One nightmare consisted of reliving my actual car accident, but I was standing right next to the back of my car as it was smashed into. Another involved a gigantic tarantula as it made it’s way into my bedroom, leapt up onto my furniture and then just as it was turning to jump down onto my bed and about to pounce on me, I was abruptly startled awake…Thankfully! So, maybe not surprisingly, I began to lose a lot of sleep. I soon started seeing a psychologist and she diagnosed me with PTSD. As I was losing more and more sleep my full-time medical photography job was getting harder and harder to focus on. Exhaustion was causing my life to fall apart. Three months after the accident I broke down at work one afternoon, having locked myself in the camera room and bawled my eyes out for awhile. I talked with my manager that afternoon and I had to have my hours reduced. Then sadly, five months after the accident I was laid off. So here I was, beyond exhausted, in a tremendous amount of pain, overwhelmed and afraid for my  present and future. Anxiety, depression and pain and fear are an awful combo. Yeah, I would say looking back that not only was that afternoon of the accident an awful one, but I had no idea how much that car accident, that one instance, would change the scope of my life for the next 21+ months and counting.

And now, here we are coming close to two years post accident and I am still having to take my life day by day and am still figuring out how to balance earning a living while, dealing with ongoing chronic back pain and getting all the rest my body still literally demands!!

Well, as an ode to allowing myself to envision my life moving forward and to stay true to my dreams I decided a few months ago that since my 40th birthday is approaching and for years I’ve been saving for a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to celebrate, I have made a point to buy a one way ticket to Paris and I leave October 5th! Yay! I am coming back, I just haven’t fully decided exactly when yet. I hope to spend a number of months photographing through some of the most beautiful cities and countries within the Europe while writing and blogging about my experiences. Dreaming about and planning this trip has been such a boost to my state of mind. It has allowed me to smile and enjoy the process of thinking about it and the much needed joy of anticipating it. It has given me something to look forward to. So, all that being shared I would like to invite you to subscribe to my blog so that while I am in Europe you can see what I have been up to, where I have been and share a bit in the experiences that I am sure to have. Photography and writing are two things I truly feel drawn to do and yet have had to be put to the wayside because of the last few years of my life. One day. One day has become my daily mantra as I struggle through trying to feel like myself again. One day is becoming today. It is time to feel like myself again and I am doing everything I can to get back to that place.