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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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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Premier And Grand Crus – Are They A Guarantee Of Great Champagne?

grand cru

They both sound pretty swanky, don’t they? If you see the words, Grand Cru or Premier Cru on a bottle of Champagne, I’m sure that like most of us, you automatically see this as an indication of a superior quality wine. However, all is not what it may seem because these terms have not been a part of official Champagne language for just over four years. Long before Champagne became synonymous with sparkling white wine, the region was already very […]

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Multicultural France

Multicultural France

Immigrants account for just over 8% of France’s population, with Paris being home to around 40% of its 4.9 foreign-born citizens. The City of Light is also home to 60% of all sub-Saharan Africans living in the country. By nationality, the number of foreigners living in France are: 1.5 million Maghreban (Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian) 1.2 million Latin (Spanish, Italian, & Portuguese) 1.2 million other nationalities 570,000 sub-Saharan African Around 270 million people worldwide speak French in one form or another, […]

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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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