History and Mission
In 1990, Yorktown, Va., entered into a sister-city relationship with a tiny French Mediterranean village named Port-Vendres. The relationship was formalized on April 19 (U.S.) and July 13 (France) by the Yorktown Trustees with the mayor of Port-Vendres and other dignitaries. In 2010, Sister Cities Yorktown celebrated the 20th anniversary of the relationship with citizen exchanges between both countries. In December 2011, the York County Board of Supervisors formally recognized the relationship for York County.
Sister Cities Yorktown is chartered by Sister Cities International. We abide by that mission: “To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.”
We Are Sisters Because. . .
History and Monuments: Yorktown and Port-Vendres are natural twins, beginning with historic ties between the communities during the American Revolution. French forces commanded by Generals Rochambeau and Lafayette proved decisive in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. The French Navy, led by Rear Adm. Comte de Grasse, completed the victory over the British after a battle in the Chesapeake Bay.
In Port-Vendres, there is a Royal square dedicated to Louis XVI with its obelisk and bronze “Independence of America” plaque. It is the only monument in France that honors America in this way. A similar monument in Yorktown honors the significant contribution of the French to American independence.
In 1776, the village of Port-Vendres had 70 homesteads; the community of Yorktown had 70 settlers.
. . .We Have Lots in Common
Strategic location: Geography makes Yorktown a strategic place in control of the York River with access to the Chesapeake Bay. Port-Vendres’ location on the Mediterranean Sea has made it a strategic port since Roman times
Fishing: Virginia is the third largest seafood producer in the U.S. and the largest on the Atlantic Coast. Ninety percent of Virginia’s seafood is harvested by day boats, many of them from York County. Favorite species are sea scallops, blue crabs, striped bass, summer flounder, croaker, spot and clams. France is one of Virginia seafood’s largest foreign importers.
In Port-Vendres, 4,000 tons of fish are unloaded and marketed each year, making fishing a central economic driver. It is the most active port in the Roussillon region, and it has one of 40 French fish auctions, which facilitate distribution of fish to supermarkets and restaurants throughout the country. Sardines, anchovies, and mussels are the most famous “local catch,” with many of the tiny fish caught by fishermen in small boats, or petits bateaux.
Sea Rescue: Yorktown is the home of the United States Coast Guard Training Center. Port-Vendres is home to Sociéte National de Sauvetage en Mer, a volunteer group that performs at-sea rescues along the Mediterranean Coast.
Waterfront and Markets: Both communities have picturesque harbors with opportunities for pleasure boating. Both enjoy outdoor markets where citizens and visitors can purchase regional specialty food items, crafts, and fresh flowers.
Art: Both communities claim renowned artists: Yorktown’s Nancy Thomas and Port-Venrdes’ Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
President: Larry Raithel
Vice President: Kate Helwig
Treasurer: Debra Ramy Paulus
Past Presidents: Timorah Beales, George Hrichak, Belinda Willis, Don Willis, Shirley Estes
Past Vice-Presidents: Deborah Marquardt, Christine Hudson
Past Secretaries: Mary Aldrich, Keitha Austin
Past Treasurers: Connie Buffa, Sandy Mathews, Jean Trask
In 2012, Sister Cities Yorktown initiated the Quintilla Prize, honoring Simone and Antoinette Quintilla of Port-Vendres, France, (both deceased) who set the groundwork for this exchange. Through decades of hard work, personal financial commitment and unbridled enthusiasm for the relationship, they helped promote and grow the program.
The Quintilla Prize is intended to honor commitment and dedication to the goals of educational and cultural exchanges between Port-Vendres and Yorktown. Citizens from either community who demonstrate this commitment can be nominated to receive the prize, a special medal designed by Viccellio Goldsmith, Yorktown.
The first medal was presented to Antoinette Quintilla by students from York County high schools on Oct. 5, 2014 during their visit to Port-Vendres. Since then, medals have been presented to Shirley Estes, Don Willis, Deborah Marquardt and Gabrielle Glatt of Sister Cities Yorktown, and Georges Grau, Annie de Cruz, and Mayor Jean-Pierre Romero of Port-Vendres.
It is the hope of Sister Cities Yorktown that this prize will be endowed to promote the goals of our two organizations, including scholarships for student and citizen exchanges. Anyone interested in pursuing this goal can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org