As Popular As The Beatles?

Claude François

Sometimes referred to as the French Elvis Presley (as well as Cloclo), and described as being as popular as The Beatles, Claude François, despite meeting an untimely end in 1978 – aged just 39 – is still as popular today as he was when he was alive. The composer and writer of the original versions of My Way (Comme d’habitude) and My Boy (Parce que je t’aime mon enfant), François’ songs, such as Alexandrie Alexandra, Le lundi au soleil, Magnolias […]

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La Philharmonie de Paris

La Philharmonie de Paris

Last month saw the opening of a magnificent new concert hall in the City of Light. The architect, Jean Nouvel, says that la Philharmonie is designed to completely immerse its audiences, giving them a, “uniquely intimate listening experience“. The state-of-the-art music venue can seat 3,650 audiophiles, and was originally conceived in 2006. So far, the project has cost €386 million (almost $438m) to build – that’s triple the original estimate! Unlike the majority of concert halls, where the farthest the audience […]

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A Very Brief History of Early Paris

lutetia

  Paris has changed a lot over the past 10 millennia: the earliest evidence of human habitation dates back to around 9,800 years ago, when Mesolithic hunter-gatherers made their home in what is now the 15th arrondissement. Excavations at Bercy turned up fragments of three wooden canoes, dating from between 4,800-4,500BC, and iron age hatchets from eastern Europe, suggesting that these early Parisians had already established trade relations with other areas of Europe. In what is now rue Henri-Farman, archaeologists […]

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River Deep, Mountain High

gorges du verdon

Where Provence and the Alps meet is the Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verdon). At 15.5 miles long and almost 3,000 feet deep, it’s Europe’s largest canyon. At around 6,700 feet above sea level, the village of Saint-Véran, in the Hautes-Alpes department is the highest municipality in Europe. At its highest point, the village reaches 10,417 feet above sea level. Briançon, also in Hautes-Alpes, is 4,350 feet high, and is Europe’s loftiest town.   And speaking of sea levels, Brittany and […]

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Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

crepes

With Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday as the English speakers among us call it) just around the corner on February 17th, we thought a post about crêpes (pancakes) was in order. After all, what else are you going to eat on pancake day? According to historians, people have been making pancakes for around 9,000 years, although we’re guessing that Neolithic cooks didn’t flip theirs! Pancakes and crêpes as we know them today are a way of using up all the rich […]

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Parenthood in France

paternity

Regardless of whether he is the biological father or not, a man who claims a child born to a single mother as his may be legally recognised as such. All he has to do is sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (Reconnaissance de Paternité). Even if he is the biological father, and the mother is in agreement, he still has no legal standing as a parent until he has signed the Acknowledgement. According to Article 226-28 of the Penal Code, unless […]

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Paris’ Aquatic Cinema

piscine pontoise

We’ve all heard of electric cinema but how about aqua cinema? In the heart of the City of Light’s Latin Quarter, not far from Boulevard Saint-Germain, is the spectacular Piscine Pontoise, which the eagle-eyed among us will recognize from Kieslowski’s movie, ‘Trois Couleurs: Bleu’ (Three Colors: Blue). Built in 1934, by Lucien Pollet, and designated a historical monument in 1981, this beautiful art deco pool features two mezzanine levels with individual changing rooms along the walkways, an enormous glass ceiling, […]

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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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