Scientific France

ESA HQ Paris

The French are pretty smart y’know; 2 February 1799 saw the world’s first international scientific conference held in Paris, and to date, France has the second highest number of Fields Medals (mathematics) in the world, after the United States. The European Space Agency (ESA) is based in Paris; the street is called rue Mario Nikis. Nikis not only created Radioélectriques Laboratories, but was also a member of French Resistance. Sadly, he didn’t live to see a street named after him – […]

Read More »

The Eiffel Tower Nose Job

Eiffel Tower nose job ad

Did you know that in China, students are having rhinoplasty in order to make their noses shaped more like the Eiffel Tower? In recent years, China has seen a 40% increase in students going under the knife in a bid to improve their chances of getting a job when they graduate college. The latest trend in cosmetic surgery is to have a more Western nose shape, based on the Iron Lady’s graceful curves.

Read More »

The Only Kosher Vineyard In France

alexandre sartene parnassah kosher vineyard

After Israel and the United States, and with around half a million members, France has the largest Jewish population on the planet, so it may seem surprising to discover that there is only one kosher vineyard in the whole country. However, given that in the entire world, there are only two other kosher vineyards outside Israel (one in Oregon and the other in California), maybe it is not so surprising after all. Inspired by a trip to Jerusalem in 1993, […]

Read More »

La Fête des Rois

La galette des rois

The festival of the kings, or Epiphany, is celebrated on January 6th. As well as celebrating the day the Magi visited the Christ Child, and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Epiphany marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas; the 12 days, which symbolise not only the 12 months of the year but also the 12 apostles of Christ. During the lead up to Epiphany, the Magi santons are gradually moved closer to the Nativity, […]

Read More »

Le Jour de l’An

bonne année

  On New Year’s Day in France (le Jour de l’An), it is usual for friends and family gather together to make New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes gifts and cards are exchanged as well. Bonne année et bonne santé! On behalf of everyone here at, we wish you a happy and healthy 2015.

Read More »

New Year’s Eve – French Style

new year's eve in Paris

  In France, December 31st is known as la Saint-Sylvestre, and is named after Saint Sylvestre, who was a 4th century AD pope during the time of Constantine the Great and the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. The saint actually has little to do with New Year’s Eve, other than the date being his feast day. New Year’s Eve hasn’t always been celebrated on December 31st however; during the 6th and 7th centuries AD, in some provinces of […]

Read More »

The Oldest Christmas Market In France

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Since 1570, there has been a Christmas market in Strasbourg, and just as then, visitors nowadays can fill themselves full of Christmas cheer in the form of bretzels, mulled wine, candies, and pastries. These days, you can buy all the decorations for your Christmas tree as well, and indeed, locals actually buy their trees from the Strasbourg market too. As well as festive shopping, concerts, exhibitions, and special events are laid on to amuse and entertain visitors to the market, […]

Read More »

Glass Christmas Tree Baubles

Glass Christmas Tree Baubles

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees in France goes back to 16th century Alsace, when people would hang apples and nuts from the trees’ branches. However, in 1858, a drought caused the apple harvest to fail, so an enterprising glass blower from Goetzenbruck in Lorraine created apple-shaped baubles from glass for people to hang on their trees instead. Soon the rest of Europe caught on, and by the end of the 19th century, the Goetzenbruck glass factory was making tens […]

Read More »

French Christmas Decorations

sapin de noel

As with many people across the world, the Christmas tree (le sapin de Noël) takes pride of place at Christmastide in French homes, schools, businesses, and factories. The first Christmas tree in France is said to have been put up in Alsace in the 1521 but it took another 300 years before it became popular with rest of the country. In 1837, Helene of Mecklenburg married King Louis Philippe I’s eldest son, Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans, and brought with her […]

Read More »

Letters to Santa

cher pere noel

Did you know that when children write letters to Santa in France, it is the law that they each receive a postcard by way of a response? The law was passed in 1962.

Read More »