gsub With unicode characters

Hi

I am writing a RoR application that needs to work with a database full
of french unicode characters, unfortunately whenever I try to display a
field with those values in a show I just get a question mark or no
character displayed.

So I decided to run a gsub (there's only 2 fields with this problem) on
the field before displying it to replace the characters with their HTML
equivalents, for example:
french_name.gsub!(/é/, 'é')

However this does not appear to work, I've tried a few different methods
for the regex after some googling but nothing seems to be doing the
trick...

If anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate your help!

Thanks!