Out Of This World!

Chateauneuf du Pape UFO

Ever protective of their terroir, in October 1954, a municipal decree was passed, forbidding UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) from landing on, taking off from, or flying over any of the vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The decree also stated that should any extra-terrestrials disobey this law, their spacecraft would immediately be impounded. As crazy as the above law may sound, in 1954, France was in the grip of UFO-fever, with hundreds of reported sightings of UFOs, mostly of the ‘flying cigar’ variety […]

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The World’s First Paddle Steamers

Denis Papin

Although Denis Papin (from Chitenay in the Centre region) developed and built a prototype steam-powered paddle boat in 1704, it wasn’t until June 1776 that the world’s first paddle steamer proper – the Palmipède*, created by Claude-François-Dorothée, marquis de Jouffroy d’Abbans – was actually launched, and sailed upon the river Doubs. Papin’s engine was based on his 1679 steam digester, the forerunner of the modern autoclave and pressure cooker. ~~~ *Palmipède is a term used to refer to birds with webbed […]

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France’s Giant Marionettes

royal de luxe

Back in 1979, actor, Jean-Luc Courcoult had an idea which would eventually turn some of the world’s major cities into a stage for his astonishing creations. These days, his company, Royal de Luxe, is internationally-renowned for its giant marionettes and street performances which have, quite literally, become a huge hit with audiences far and wide. More than three decades ago, Courcoult’s trio decided that instead of their audience coming to watch their performances in Aix-en-Provence, they’d take the shows to […]

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Blanquette de Limoux

Blanquette de Limoux

For more than a hundred years before Dom Pérignon’s apocryphal serendipitous Champagne incident, Languedoc-Roussillon had been producing its own sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux. Although the vineyards just south of Carcassonne date back to around the 5th century BC, it was not until 1531 that the region began to produce its sparkling white wine from Mauzac grapes (which are known locally as Blanquette, hence the name). Or rather, 1531 is the earliest recorded mention of the sparkling wine – it’s […]

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Post-Revolution Government of France


Since 1792, there have been ten changes in the way France has governed itself: First republic: September 1792-May 1804 First French empire: Napoléon I: May 1804-April 1814 Napoléon I: June 1815-July 1815 Constitutional monarchy: Louis XVIII: April 1814-March 1815 Constitutional monarchy: Louis XVIII: July 1815-September 1824 Charles X: September 1824-August 1830 Louis-Philippe I: August 1830-February 1848 Second republic: February 1848- December 1852 Second French empire: Napoléon III: December 1852-September 1870 Third republic: September 1870-June 1940 Provisional Government of the French […]

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Marché de Rungis

outdoor paris markets

To the south of Paris, near Orly airport, is the international market of Rungis – the largest wholesale fresh food and flower market in the world. 40% of fresh produce consumed in France goes through Rungis, as well as 30% of fish and seafood, 20% of meat, and 10% of all dairy products, mainly cheese. 35% of France’s restaurants are supplied by Rungis, as are 80% of its shops. Covering 573 acres, Rungis, which opened in 1962, employs 13,000 people, […]

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The French Declaration of Rights

declaration of man and citizen

The first universal declaration of human rights on the planet is the 1789 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen; however, these rights do not solely apply to French men and women, rather, they extend to all people across the world.

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Celebrate Chinese New Year In Paris

chinese new year in paris

There can be few festivals that are as lavish and spectacular as those celebrating Chinese New Year; all around the world, Chinese dragons take to the streets, and fireworks abound in magnificent displays. Paris is no different, and this week sees many celebrations to welcome in the year of the goat (yang). Throughout several Parisian districts, people will be hanging up their lanterns, dancing with dragons and lions, and lighting firecrackers – if you’re in the City of Light this […]

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The Marseillaise


Most people know that la Marseillaise is the national anthem of France but did you know that it was actually written in Strasbourg, not Marseille? In 1792, after France declared war on Austria, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle wrote one of the most instantly-recognizable of European anthems. It was not however, intended to be the country’s national anthem – in fact, its lyric and original title, Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin (Battle Hymn of the Army of the Rhine) leave […]

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This Ol’ House

Cairn de Barnenez

Dating from around 4,800 BC, one of the earliest megalithic monuments in Europe is the Neolithic cairn at Barnenez in Brittany. It predates the oldest ancient Egyptian pyramids by more than two millennia, and is considered to be the oldest extant building in the world.

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