The 45th Parallel North

45th parallel north in France

According to some, the 45th parallel north, the theoretical latitudinal point which is halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, is France’s dividing line between the Occitan-speaking people of the south and the Oïl people in the north. For those interested in France’s culinary traditions, this invisible line also marks the divide between the butter and oil cuisines of the north and south, respectively. In a broader context, the 45th parallel also marks the dividing line between northern and […]

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Those Slender French!

Those Slender French

Which EU country has the lowest incidence of male obesity? Yes, it’s France… of course! French women have the second lowest obesity rate in the European Union, beaten only by Denmark. In addition, our healthy lifestyle contributes to our longevity; French women have the highest life expectancy in the EU, with our men having the third.

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Le Chocolat Chaud – The Drink Of Kings


Spring may have sprung but the chilly days and nights are far from banished, so what better way of keeping the cool weather at bay, than a deliciously velvety mug of thick hot chocolate? In the early seventeenth century, we French, being the sophisticated types that we are(!), began to drink an ‘exotic West Indian drink which cures and preserves the body of many diseases’ (according to some early marketing materials). We believed it would cure almost any ailment you […]

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The Jewels of France

Côte d'Azur

You’ve no doubt heard of the Côte d’Azur but did you know that many of the resorts you’ll find along France’s lengthy coastline are named after precious and semi-precious stones? On the north-west coast, bordering the North Sea and the English Channel, you’ll find mother-of-pearl, opal, emerald, and alabaster. Jade and silver are down on the Atlantic side, and the ruby and amethyst coasts, along with the azure, are kissed by the warm Mediterranean waters.

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Driving in France: Priorité à Droite

driving in france

France, with its beautiful rolling hills, majestic mountains, golden coastline, and picturesque vineyards is a wonderful country in which to have a driving vacation. For visitors who are used to driving on the right, driving in France should not present any problems; however, you should be aware of ‘priorité à droite’, which means that basically, you should give way to traffic approaching from the right. The thing is that this is an archaic law, which has been around since before […]

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Paris On A Shoestring

mije hostel paris

Not every visitor to the City of Light can afford to stay in a swanky hotel, so it’s really good to know that there is no shortage of affordable accommodation for the budget-conscious traveler. Hostels have come a long way since the bad old days of sweaty, stoned hippies, hanging out and keeping people awake until all hours of the early morning. These days, French hostels come with all mod cons, free WiFi and breakfast, are beautifully-decorated and clean, and […]

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Bygone France

©1945 Robert Doisneau - Rural Life

In his book, The Discovery of France, author, Graham Robb, states that until the 19th century, France comprised hundreds of small, autonomous republics. Most were in fact, simply isolated hamlets, which while technically part of France, did not pay any taxes to the government. Few people in these hamlets identified as being French, in the sense of France being a single, unified nation. Even at the turn of the 20th century, two-thirds of the population of France was made up […]

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The Gardens of the Boves in Arras

les jardins des boves in arras

Sixty feet below the streets of Arras, the capital of the Artois province, lie ‘les Boves’ – the medieval limestone quarries which were first excavated during the 10th century to provide building materials for the city. Since then, they have been used as cellars, silos, and as air raid shelters during WWII. The Boves were also used as a rallying point, holding camp, and shelter for allied troops during the WWI Battle of Arras. For the past decade, each spring […]

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France’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Roman theater in Orange

In France there are 39 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List: 3 Roman sites (Arles, Orange, Le Gard) 4 cathedrals (Amiens, Bourges, Chartres, Reims) 4 abbeys (Fontenay, Reims, Saint-Savin sur Gartempe, Vezelay) 8 historic city/town centres (Paris, Lyon, Avignon, Strasbourg, le Havre, Mont-Saint-Michel, Provins, Carcassonne) Plus numerous castles, chateaux… and belfries!

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Loved By Lyon’s Literati: Brasserie Georges

brasserie georges lyon

Back in 1836, Georges Hoffherr, a brewer from Strasbourg, Alsace, opened Brasserie Georges in Lyon, and it soon became a favorite haunt of Lyon’s literati for almost two centuries, and now the oldest brasserie in the city. Situated on the stagecoach route between Paris and Marseille, la Georges (as it’s colloquially referred to) was ideally placed to cater to passing trade from tired and hungry travelers and commuters; however, in June 1857, when the Perrache railway station opened next door, the brasserie’s […]

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