History

girafe in paris

Her Highness the Giraffe, and other exotic specimens in 19th century Paris

On 30 June, 1827, an enormous crowd gathered in the streets of Paris, understandably so, for the sight they beheld was quite unusual. For the first time ever, towering high above the people, there was a giraffe in Paris. Nicknamed ‘Her Highness’, the giraffe was a gift from the Egyptian Pasha Mehemet-Ali to Charles X, …

Her Highness the Giraffe, and other exotic specimens in 19th century Paris Continue reading

From coast to mountain, from champagne to red wine, there are almost 200 exquisite cathedrals to explore. Here is my list of the 10 most beautiful cathedrals in France

The 10 most beautiful cathedrals in france

From medieval stone crypts to soaring Gothic arches, from carved rose windows to sky-high spires. the cathedrals of France are simply magnificent. There is no other place in the world where the steeples of bell towers dot every corner of the landscape, or as the French saying goes, de clocher en clocher . Every small village has its church, and every region has at least one glorious cathedral rising to the heavens. There are almost 200 exquisite cathedrals to explore. Here is my list of the 10 most beautiful cathedrals in France.

lost royal chateaux

The lost royal châteaux of France

In a country with thousands of beautiful châteaux, it’s easy to imagine that any could simply be lost to history. War, weather, revolutions and natural disasters have all taken their toll on the built landscape. But lost royal châteaux? Today we can still visit many of the many palaces and châteaux which have harboured the French kings and queens over the past thousand years. Others have been razed to the ground, and only in our imagination can we glimpse the pomp and glamour of royal life.

Marie Antoinette and the Temple of Love

In the grounds of the Petit Trianon, the beloved neoclassical villa of Marie Antoinette, sits one of her follies – le Temple de l’Amour, or Temple of Love. Each morning, as she rose from her luxurious bed and glanced out the window, the sight of its elegant Greek-style cupola filled her heart with joy. Marie Antoinette may have loved jewels and fabulous new dresses, and knew how to party, but she also craved the peace and solitude which was completely lacking in the ornate and formal world of the Palace of Versailles. This, she found in the gardens of her Petit Trianon, in her Temple dedicated to Love.

1000 years of pilgrimage: Mont-St-Michel and the modern pilgrim

One of the most iconic and photographed places in France, the steeple of its ancient stone church rises majestically into the clouds, whilst its feet sit firmly in the shifting sands and resist the relentless tides. Popular with tourists all year round and overrun in the warm summer months, would it surprise you to know that…

french easter

A French Easter

Easter, or Pâques in French, is a beautiful time of the year. The bright yellow flocks of daffodils dance in the sunlight, joyous after a long winter. The first of the pink blossoms twirl their way around branches sprinkled with tiny green shoots, alive with tiny birds flitting to and fro, creating a nest for …

A French Easter Continue reading

french church

A serendipitous encounter with a 13th century church

Every morning, I hark the sound of church bells. They murmur gently, at first, shaping my dreams, but soon their insistent melody awakens me from my slumber. I am used to it now, my ancient alarm clock. For hundreds of years, church bells all over France have…

history of french cooking

8 surprising facts in the history of French cooking

What comes to mind when you think of French cooking? Snails cooked in butter? Fried frogs legs? Haute cuisine, or the rustic and hearty dishes of the countryside like coq au vin and bœuf bourguignon? Here are 8 things in the history of French cooking that may surprise you.

Riding the Blue Train to Nice

Feeling the winter blues? Take a ride on the exclusive Train Bleu, all the way to the sun-drenched coast of the French Riviera. You’ll be in good company – the Blue Train to Nice saw the likes of The Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and all manner of celebrities.

The death of Marie Antoinette

Should you go looking for the prison cell in which Marie-Antoinette spent her last few months, it no longer exists. Imprisoned in the former medieval fortress of the Conciergerie on the Quai d’Horloge in the centre of Paris before her ‘trial’ and death, the dank and dark cell in which she rested, alone, unable even to kiss her children goodbye, was later turned into a memorial. The death of Marie-Antoinette by the sharp blade of the guillotine may have been quick, but her death sentence began well before.

why was marie antoinette unpopular

The life of Queen Marie-Antoinette, Part 2

At a ball in 1781, Marie-Antoinette was dressed in a blue gown all sprinkled with sapphires and diamonds; beautiful, young, adored by all, having just given a Dauphin to France, not dreaming of the possibility of a backward step in her brilliant career, she was already on the edge of the abyss. What happened to the Queen, and why was she so unpopular in France?

when was marie antoinette queen

The life of Queen Marie Antoinette, Part 1

When Marie-Antoinette arrived in France she was initially adored for her youth, her beauty, her vitality, her generous nature. The old king Louis XV was especially enamoured with his grandson’s new bride. But the palace of Versailles, steeped in courtly rituals and traditions, was not for the faint-hearted. Would she be strong enough to survive life at the palace?

best things to do in bordeaux

The best things to do in Bordeaux (if you love history)

Classical and elegant, yet bold and brilliant, the city of Bordeaux has something for everyone. If you love wine, it’s among the best in the world. If you love food, there is foie gras and canelés. If you love history, Bordeaux is a potent mix of the medieval, the Renaissance and the modern. In fact, walk around the city and you’ll find almost half of it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. For those of you like me who adore their history, here are the best things to do and see in Bordeaux.

Top 5 Historical Sites in france – Château of Blois

There are so many beautiful châteaux in the Loire Valley, it’s difficult to choose which to visit. The Royal Château of Blois is not the prettiest, but it has been the home of no less than seven French kings and ten queens, and its imposing architecture represents four distinct architectural periods. “The châteaux of few country towns can boast so many and so important events, so long a list of illustrious inmates, or so large a collection of historical recollections, as that of Blois”.

Escape to the île d’Arz, Gulf of Morbihan, Brittany

Come and spend a day, a week, a month on the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Morbihan, and escape to the île d’Arz. ‘Mor bihan’ means ‘little sea’ in the local Breton language, and there are around 40 isles and islets scattered in this magical body of water. L’île d’Arz is only four km long and 3km wide, but is still one of the larger isles in the gulf. Cars are limited, and the only way there is

The mysterious stones of Carnac

You’ve more than likely heard of Stonehenge, but have you heard of the megalithic stones of Carnac? In fact, the mysterious stones of Carnac are one of the largest megalithic sites in the world. Where are they? Carnac is in the region of Brittany, in the northwest of France. More specifically, Carnac is in the …

The mysterious stones of Carnac Continue reading

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top