‘Awesome’ French hosts treat Crestview visitors ‘like family’

pontoizeau noirmoutier 2013 diamond embree

Gérard Pontoizeau, center, stands above his Noirmoutier fishing beach with Montavius Diamond, left, and Chris Embree, who are with the 22-person Crestview contingent visiting the island. Pontoizeau and his wife, Jocelyne, have hosted more than 50 Northwest Florida residents since Noirmoutier became Crestview's Sister City.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM.

NOIRMOUTIER, France —Visitors to Crestview’s sister city can expect red-carpet hospitality from big-hearted host families.

Some visitors, however, receive a bit more.

Jocelyne and Gérard Pontoizeau have welcomed more than 50 guests from Northwest Florida since Crestview and the French town Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile formed a relationship through Sister Cities International.

Gérard — known as “Pompom” to friends — and his father-in-law built the couple's six-bedroom, two-bathroom and three-water-closet stone house nearly 30 years ago.

The Pontoizeaus are well-known among Northwest Florida State College show choir students, who perform every two years in Noirmoutier.

“Older students pass the word, ‘Stay with Pompom,’” said Montavius Diamond, who is with the 22-person Crestview contingent that recently returned from visiting the island

Guests become part of a large, extended family. Chris Embree and Marie Anne Fella, members of the current Crestview group, stayed with the Pontoizeaus.

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