Pardon My French!

french toast

For some reason, there are various things which are prefaced with the word, ‘French’, and yet they have little or nothing to do with France. Here are a few you may be familiar with but if you know of any others, please let us know in the comments below. French bulldog The pint-sized pooches were introduced into Normandy during the mid-1800s by migrating English lace-makers. They soon became firm favorites of local farmers, and in time, through selective breeding became […]

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The Mother Tongue?

languages of france

In 1794, a survey revealed that just 11% of France’s population were native French speakers. By 1880, that number had risen to a mere 20%. Today, 86% of people living in France have French as their first language. Dialects and other languages make up the rest: 65% – Occitan (e.g. Gascon and Provençal) 10% – Oïl (e.g. Picard and Poitevin-Saintongeais) 15% – German and German dialects (e.g. Alsatian and Lorraine) 55% – Arabic Plus Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, and Franco-Provençal. […]

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Gothic Architecture

Notre Dame

The abbey church (or basilica) of Saint Denis, just north of Paris, is considered to be the world’s first example of gothic architecture. According to legend, around 250AD, Denis, the bishop of the Parisii, was decapitated at the top of the hill at Montmartre*. Not being one to take his execution lying down, he picked up his head, and walked six miles – preaching all the way – to where he wanted to be buried. A martyrium – and subsequent […]

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

millau viaduct

Europe’s busiest airport for cargo traffic is Charles de Gaulle International in Paris, and is actually the 6th busiest, in terms of cargo, in the world. With an average speed of 263.3km/h (163.6 mph) from station to station, the French TGV is the fastest train in the world. During a test run in April ’07, it reached a record-breaking 574.8km/h (357.16 mph). Furthermore, it’s also the endurance record-holder, making the 1067.2km (663.12 miles) run from Calais to Marseille in 2001 […]

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Three French Wine Myths Debunked

Jan van Bijlert - Young Man Drinking a Glass of Wine

The first thing that comes to mind when anyone mentions French drinks is wine, so of course, with France being the world’s second largest wine producer (Italy comes first), wine rightly deserves to be at the top of anyone’s list of boissons françaises. It should come as no surprise then, to learn that there’s a whole slew of myths surrounding this most beloved of beverages… here are just three of the most common. Myth #1 The French drink wine with […]

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Constructing The Iron Lady

Eiffel Tower

January 28th 1887 was an auspicious day for Gustave Eiffel, and for Paris as a whole, for it was the day that construction began on what was to become one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. However, Eiffel’s great iron pylon was never meant to endure for over a century; the Iron Lady, as it is fondly referred to, was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, commemorating the French Revolution, and was supposed to […]

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French Wine Facts and Figures

french wine

Since Roman times, wine has been made in France. In the North (e.g. Alsace), wines are usually made from a single variety of grape (e.g. Pinot Noir), whereas further south (e.g. Provence), they are typically blends (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot). With 450 different appellations, there are literally tens of thousands of small wine-producing domaines; however, only 15% of all the appellations enjoy the benefit of an AOC designation.

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Paris Diary Dates For February

Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer

Are you visiting the City of Light next month, and wondering what to do? Wonder no more, for here’s our round-up of some of the best events in February. Au temps de Klimt. La Sécession à Vienne Although he’s known as one of the Vienna Secession movement’s most prominent painters, Gustav Klimt’s work has not been without controversy, most notably that many of his contemporaries felt his work was too exotic. See for yourself at this new exhibition, featuring 180 […]

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French Luxury Goods

chambord

The world leader in luxury goods, including perfumes, cosmetics, fashion accessories, and haute couture, France is also the top producer of liquors on the planet, and second only to Italy in terms of wine. L’hexagone produces some of the world’s most famous liqueurs; Armagnac, Chambord, Chartreuse, Cointreau, Cognac, Crème de Cassis, Grand Marnier, Mandarine Napoléon, Pastis, Triple Sec, and more. Délicieux!

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Three French Food Myths Debunked

garlic

Mention the French, and the first thing that usually comes to mind is fine wine and equally fine dining. Indeed, marketers know that if you want to make a particular type of food seem really upmarket, just add the word, ‘French’ in front of it, and voilà! people start clamoring for it. But what about the stereotypical ‘French’ foods the world associates with us? Do we deserve these accolades – and in some cases, the criticism? Did Julia Child, MFK […]

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