The record of the former French colonies is controversial. But it is also rich with narratives, and with built relics—villas, hotels, prisons, slaughterhouses, orphaned by history. The history of the former French colonies is nothing if not controversial. For many in contemporary France, the entire era is a difficult subject; the successive conquest of foreign places, the claiming of lands from Quebec to the Caribbean, from North Africa to India to China, belongs to an era of imperial ambition that is now discredited or worse. But the colonial era is also ripe for historical narrative, for tales of adventurous men and women setting out into the unknown, sailing to the other side of the world, seeking fortune and freedom, a new life and a new world.  Climatic constraints and local materials stimulated French architects and engineers, as did the ever present inspiration of indigenous and vernacular buildings; distance from home gave the architects greater stylistic freedom and range. Read More