Shoes – Historical High Heels

American Duchess

American Duchess

In looking for a pair of 17th century style shoes, I came across the website “All About Shoes” which details historical facts about shoes through various eras.

“Throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, heels were an indicator of wealth and status for both men and women. In France, the wearing of heels even became a regulated expression of political privilege. In the 17th century court of King Louis XIV (reign 1643-1715), only those granted access to his court were allowed to wear red coloured heels.”  (I wonder if this is where Louboutin got the idea for his red-soled shoes!)

“Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, King Louis XV (reign 1715-1774) also left his mark on high heel history. Although men began abandoning high heels by the 1730s, heels remained important in women’s fashion. During the reign of Louis XV, fashionable heels for women were curved through the waist and splayed at the base to increase stability. The French favoured a delicate interpretation of this style, while the English preferred heels that were a bit stouter.

This combination of graceful shape and sturdy construction was revived and revamped in the 1860s. Although christened the “Louis heel,” the later heel featured a much more dramatic curve where the heel met the shoe.

Increasing criticism of frivolous extravagance heralded the end of the aristocratic age. With revolution in the air, the upper classes throughout Europe and North America began to embrace the more modest aesthetic of the rising middle class.

Men had abandoned high heels by the middle of the 18th century and, throughout the last decades of the century, women’s heels became increasing lower. Sturdy heels were replaced by more delicate and thin heels and, by the 1790s, heels usually rose no higher than a few centimetres. 

After the French Revolution, heels quickly went out of style. By the early 1800s, flats were the fashion. High heels would not be seen again in Western fashion for another fifty years.”  

Official Website HERE 

SITE EN FRANCAIS

Travel Makes You Richer

When I moved to Nice seven years ago, I was overwhelmed with the dichotomy of its hustle/bustle city feeling and laidback vacation-type ambiance.  The city is second to Paris as a top tourist destination, but there are many beautiful places to visit and see in the world.  Travel opens our eyes and minds to other peoples and cultures and expands our vision of the world – Bon Voyage!

See NY TIMES video HERE 

Body Language in the 17th Century

Body language refers to various forms of nonverbal communication, wherein a person may reveal clues as to some unspoken intention or feeling through their physical behavior. These behaviors can include body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements; the meanings varies depending on the culture.

In 17th century France, MOUCHE (applied beauty marks) were used in fashion to convey body language, as well as to physically cover pock marks. They could take the shape of hearts and/or be made of lace, but their facial placement was key to the intended body language message.
mouche
signification-mouches-grains-beauté

 

Women also carried FANS — not just to cool themselves or for mere decor, but to communicate when it wasn’t appropriate to verbalize something. The fan had to be carried, opened, closed and fluttered with precision and reason. A woman held it in front of her, not covering her face, with the painted side facing out. Every movement had a meaning.

 

Carrying Open fan: come speak with me

Twirling the fan in the right hand: I love another

Twirling the fan in the left hand: We are being watched

Placing the fan near your heart: I love you

A half-closed fan pressed to the lips: You may kiss me

Letting the fan rest on the right cheek: Yes

Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: No

Dropping the fan: We will be friends

Other sources decoding fan language offer some pretty specific statements:

Placing fan on left ear: I wish to be rid of you

Carrying fan in right hand in front of face: Follow me

Drawing fan across the forehead: You have changed

Drawing fan through the hand: I hate you

Threaten with shut fan: You are imprudent

Gazing at shut fan: Why do you misunderstand me?

most commonly understood fan gestures.

A fan placed near the heart: “You have won my love.”
A closed fan touching the right eye: “When may I be allowed to see you?”
The number of sticks shown answered the question: “At what hour?”
Threatening gestures with a closed fan: “Do not be so imprudent”
Half-opened fan pressed to the lips: “You may kiss me.”
Hands clasped together holding an open fan: “Forgive me.”
Covering the left ear with an open fan: “Do not betray our secret.”
Hiding the eyes behind an open fan: “I love you.”
Shutting a fully-opened fan slowly: “I promise to marry you.”
Drawing the fan across the eyes: “I am sorry.”

Touching the finger to the tip of the fan:“I wish to speak with you.”
Letting the fan rest on the right cheek:“Yes.”
Letting the fan rest on the left cheek:“No.”
Opening and closing the fan several times: “You are cruel”
Dropping the fan: “We will be friends.”
Fanning slowly: “I am married.”
Fanning quickly: “I am engaged.”
Putting the fan handle to the lips: “Kiss me.”
Opening a fan wide: “Wait for me.”
Placing the fan behind the head: “Do not forget me”
Placing the fan behind the head with finger extended: “Goodbye.”
Fan in right hand in front of face: “Follow me.”
Fan in left hand in front of face: “I am desirous of your acquaintance.”
Fan held over left ear: “I wish to get rid of you.”

Drawing the fan across the forehead:“You have changed.”
Twirling the fan in the left hand: “We are being watched.”
Twirling the fan in the right hand: “I love another.”
Carrying the open fan in the right hand:“You are too willing.”

Carrying the open fan in the left hand: “Come and talk to me.”
Drawing the fan through the hand: “I hate you!”
Drawing the fan across the cheek: “I love you!”
Presenting the fan shut: “Do you love me?”

~From All About Fans

Photo/Source: Wikipedia

9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

Want to astound native speakers with your French?

Then along with your French slang and French idioms, you must learn some French proverbs!

These beauties are filled with both imagery and wisdom, and can be used in everyday situations.

Here are nine French proverbs (brief sayings encompassing advice and general truths) and their meanings, which will give sel (salt/savor) to your use of the language, and a certain poésie (poetic flair) in the way you communicate.

9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

1. “Qui vivra verra”

“Qui vivra verra”  is a widely used and understood proverb that literally means, “He/she who lives, shall see.” This phrase is usually used when an outcome is unpredictable or uncertain, like in the English “the future will tell.” Although it is a very short phrase, it still rolls smoothly off the tongue with elegance.

2. “L’habit ne fait pas le moine”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress1 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

“L’habit ne fait pas le moine” translates to “The vestment does not make the monk.” Its significance, though, is that just because a monk is wearing a renunciate’s robe, it doesn’t mean that the monk is sincere in his intentions. The English equivalent would be, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The sense of the phrase implies that appearances can sometimes mislead one’s better judgement. The philosopher Plutarch came up with his own rendition of this phrase. It goes, “A beard does not make a philosopher,” which in French is translated as “La barbe ne fait pas le philosophe.”

3. “Chacun voit midi à sa porte”

Chacun voit midi à sa porte” is a beautiful expression which, while being somewhat unfortunate, is nevertheless quite true. The literal translation goes, “Everyone sees noon at his doorstep.” It means that every individual is occupied, first and foremost, with his or her own personal interests, and each feels their subjective opinions as objective truths. When such tenacity occurs, the French would say, “Inutile de discuter,” it is “useless to argue,” since every man feels he is right. Innumerable are the contexts in which this phrase may be used, and it would impress a French person to hear it from a foreigner.

4. “Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress3 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir” is another widely used proverb, understood by all French natives. It literally means, “It is better to prevent than to heal,” and interestingly, it’s the first principle of traditional Chinese healing practices. The French are very attached to this saying, dearly using it on a regular basis. It is not surprising, however, since health is first priority – “Et d’abord, ne pas nuire!” (First, do no harm!), they say. The sense of the proverb is such that it is better to take the necessary precautions to prevent a sickness, than to have to treat and heal this sickness. It is sens commun (common sense) in France, undoing the dictum, “Ignorance is bliss,” for the bliss in this case is to not be ignorant, but preventive.

5. “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress4 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

“Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid” is a charming little phrase that’s widely applied, and translated as, “Little by little, the bird makes its nest.” This proverb designates patience and perseverance. It can be used in many situations, particularly in the process of something not yet accomplished, as opposed to something that has been accomplished. And only then, after much time and effort, one might also say (with a pronounced sense of triumph and achievement), “Paris ne s’est pas fait en un jour!” (“Paris was not made in a day!”)

6. “Qui court deux lievres a la fois, n’en prend aucun”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress5 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

“Qui court deux lievres a la fois, n’en prend aucun” is a marvel not only in its implication, but in its wonderful imagery. It is translated as, “Who runs after two hares at the same time, catches none.” The meaning is that an individual ought to concentrate on one task at a time with optimal attention, if that task is to be well done. If a person does two things at once, the likelihood is that the end result will be anchored in mediocrity, due to a half-hearted effort. Something well done is something done with total concentration. This proverb offers an important reminder, so it can be wisely applied to many various situations.

7. “Qui n’avance pas, recule”

“Qui n’avance pas, recule” is a truth that none can counter. It is translated as, “Who does not move forward, recedes”. There can be no standstill in life, only evolution or devolution. Either one evolves, or one devolves. To be stagnant is the same as to recede. “Expect poison from stagnant water,” the English poet William Wordsworth once wrote. This proverb can be used as encouragement in the need to persevere. It may be persistently employed, given its truth content.

8. “Quand on a pas ce que l’on aime, il faut aimer ce que l’on a”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress7 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

“Quand on a pas ce que l’on aime, il faut aimer ce que l’on a” is a beautifully worded proverb that’s full of good sense. Its translation is, “When one doesn’t have the things that one loves, one must love what one has.” It reflects the saying, “Want what you have and you’ll have what you want,” which is to say that you must be content with what you currently hold, however little it may be. In this way, we avoid the burden of wanting things out of reach, and become grateful for the things that are before us now. If you say this proverb at the appropriate time, the French will surely be intrigued by such wisdom, and perhaps commend you for it with a “perrier” or a glass of wine.

9. “Il n’y a pas plus sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre”

commonly applied french proverbs flair beauty impress8 9 Beautiful French Proverbs That Will Impress

Il n’y a pas plus sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre” is a proverb “qui court les rues” (that runs the streets, meaning it’s widely used). It translates as, “No one is as deaf as the one who does not want to listen.” This would be the case for very stubborn people, or those so caught up in their own self-assertions that they pay no heed to the advice or opinions of others. The French, especially Parisians, are intellectual ringleaders. You might say that in Paris, debating is almost a sport. When a debate leads nowhere because of the tenacity on both sides, this proverb is likely to be used by either one or both of the parties (if each believe they are right).

So there you have it – nine proverbs to refine and give flair to your use of the French language. If you keep these sayings in your repertoire intellectuel (intellectual repertoire), you will find your ability to impress the French significantly increased.

Do not forget that these are “widely applied” French proverbs, and their usage is very flexible. Within the space of a day, many occurrences would arise in which you could slip one or more of these in your day-to-day conversations. They will have instantaneous chameleon effect, because French people would (usually) only expect a French native to say these. You saying one will either amaze the French person, or give off the impression that you have refined mastery of the language. It is a cunning way to gain a foothold in French conversational territory, which is why rehearsing and applying them will only bring greater eloquence, clarity and cordial magnetism in your meetings with the French.

SOURCE:  FluentU
French Immersion Online HERE

How to be Parisian? Move to Paris

Reblog: Written by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian:

Real French women don’t resemble the stereotype peddled by endless guides to looking chic, having lovers, eating baguettes and staying thin

Parisian woman near the Eiffel Tower
Your GCSE French teacher probably didn’t look like this … Photograph: Alija/Getty Images

I’ve noticed that yet another book has come out telling us that we should all be more like Parisian women. To save me reading this book, can you tell me how to be more Parisian?

Pas de problème, mon petit chou-fleur! After French Women Don’t Get Fat, French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, French Children Don’t Throw Food, Like a French Woman and French Women Are Just Better Than You So Shut Up About the War Already Because They’re Thinner and Sexier and We All Know What’s Really Important So Nyahhh!, yet another crucial addition to this delightful genre arrives called How To Be Parisian Wherever You are.

I’m afraid I haven’t read the whole thing due to a severe allergy to books that are predicated on national stereotypes so tired they would make the producers of ’Allo ’Allo! balk, but I did read an extract (hard-working journalist, me), and I can tell you, this book looks pretty spectacular. It was written, we are told, by “four stunning and accomplished French women … [who are] talented bohemian iconoclasts”. Coo! Stunning andiconoclastic? That is so Frrrrench, n’est-ce pas? So let’s see how this “iconoclastic” book shatters some French stereotypes. Well, we are told that French women “take their scooter to buy a baguette”. Take their scooter to buy a baguette? I’m sorry, is this a book about how to be French or a GCSE Tricolore text book? What next, “Monsieur Dupont habite à la Rochelle et il aime aller a la piscine”? Anyway, carry on. What else do we clueless non-Frenchies have to do to be more like French women, please?

“Smoke like a chimney on the way to the countryside to get some fresh air.”

“Don’t feel guilty [about infidelity].”

“Cheat on your lover with your boyfriend.”

Wow, this book really blows the lid on French stereotypes, doesn’t it? Totally doesn’t rehash them at all. Mon Dieu! Ooh la la! Nicole Papa! Du vin, du pain, du Boursin!

Admittedly, I am not Parisian. However, half my family is, I lived in Paris for a while after university “studying very hard” (dossing about with my cousins) and my parents still live there, so I have some experience of the place. But the funny thing is, in all my life of being related to Parisians, visiting Parisians and eating baguettes with Parisians on their scooters, I have never once come across a single woman who fits the stereotype peddled by these books. These idiotic guides present an image that is about as representative of Parisians as Four Weddings and a Funeral is of the average Brit. Are there skinny, scary women in Paris who have lots of lovers and always look fabulous? Yes, probably, and I’m guessing they all live in the same tiny square mile off the Boulevard Saint-Germain. But I have never come across any of them, and I used to cover Paris fashion week. It is perhaps the greatest trick France has ever pulled, constantly telling the world how innately chic its people are, while actually not being especially different from any other country. After all, there are rich, skinny, scary women in all major cities. But it is only Paris where we’re led to believe that this tiny demographic is representative of the entire populace.

Seriously, who buys these books? Have they never seen a French person? Do they just forget that their French GCSE teacher didn’t look and dress like Catherine Deneuve? Or are they so filled with self-loathing that they’re willing to cling on to whatever ridiculous lie is peddled by the publishing industry as long as it comes with a promise of self-improvement? Je ne sais pas, c’est très bizarre (see? This “being French” lark is un morceau de gâteau.) We all know that national stereotypes exist, but whoever would have thought that an entire publishing genre could be built upon them? But I appreciate that the publishing industry is struggling, so to help them on their way, here are some other titles that might be worth pursuing:

1. How to Get the Best Sunlounger Round the Hotel Pool Like a German.

2. How to Say ‘I’m WAWKIN’ here, I’m WAWKIN’!’ Like a New Yorker.

3. How to Throw a Shrimp on the Barbie like an Australian.

I’m going to stop now because each of these ideas is gold and I can’t just give them away, you know. The point is, there is nothing inherently chic about Parisians – they just happen to speak French, which is a very chic-sounding language, and they live in a stonkingly beautiful city (which they only saved by being cheese-eating surrender monkeys to the Nazis – I wonder if any of these “How to be Parisian” guides give any tips about how to acquiesce most stylishly to invading fascists? Yeah. I went there.) But as there seems to be some sort of appetite for this nonsense, here – EXCLUSIVELY!!!! – is my guide to being Parisian:

Move to Paris.

Speak French.

The End.

Au revoir, mes petits! Je vous embrasse, ooh la la!

Name That Cheese

NAME THAT CHEESE: FRENCH FROMAGE QUIZ

Name that Cheese: French Fromage QuizName that Cheese: French Fromage QuizName that Cheese: French Fromage Quiz
1. If you’ve never had a picnic with a simple baguette and a nicely ripened round of this creamy cow’s milk classic from Normandy, well, it’s time to start living! The rind is a little furry with touches of beige and there’s recently been a fashion for baking it.

2. Similar to No. 1, but from a completely different region, this fine fromage is a cow’s milk cheese with an edible white rind and a pale creamy interior which softens as it ripens. An absolute French classic.

3. Not unlike the Dutch Edam in appearance, this unusual cheese is made near Lille. The texture is firm and the interior colour is a strong orange. A whole example of this cheese will come in a squashed ball shape and possess a grey, rough and pitted exterior. Boasting a nutty flavour, this cheese is often served after having been aged for a year or two.

4. A soft cheese which is often distinguished by an orange rind. It is made in the Vosges region of north-eastern France. The texture is creamy, smooth and quite sticky and it can be pungent on the nose.

5. One of France’s oldest cheeses, this is said to date back to the 6th century. It looks similar in outward appearance to Camembert but the consistency is more like a regular cream cheese. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this Normandy cheese is that it is often produced in the shape of a heart.

6. A goats’ cheese from the Loire Valley, made in the area surrounding the village which provides its name, which was originally served as a snack for the local grape pickers. The texture becomes firmer with age, from medium to hard, but there is always a distinctive nutty flavour. Great on a cheeseboard or grilled with salads.

7. A cow’s milk cheese made in the high hills and mountains of the region of the same name. A round of this cheese can weigh up to 120lbs, so you will buy it in long thin slices. It possesses an aromatic, nutty but also slightly sweet flavour, reminiscent of Gruyere.

8. A soft goats’ cheese with a firm and creamy texture, which is only produced in this region of south-western France and sold in a distinctive cylindrical shape called a bonde. The flavours are mild and creamy, becoming more tangy and nutty as the cheese ages – but it will only age for weeks not months. The unusual name is said to derive from the Arabic for goat.

9. A mild and creamy blue cheese from an area which produces several examples. This one is named after a local town. Shaped like a tall cylinder, it has a mottled grey/brown exterior and a natural thin crust.

10. Named after the mountain region in eastern France, this popular cheese is made from the skimmed cow’s milk and has a lower fat content than many cheeses. The rind is thick and has a grey exterior, whereas its interior is pale cream with small holes. It boasts a sweet and soft taste with earthy tones.

11. Apparently the favourite cheese of the Emperor Charlemagne, this blue cheese made from ewe’s milk has a noble and ancient pedigree. Aging takes place in limestone caves where the mould develops, resulting in a soft creamy texture but a salty and tangy taste.

12. One of only two sheep’s milk cheeses to gain AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status, this cheese comes from the mountainous areas of south-western France near the Spanish border. The crust varies from grey to orange and the interior is semi-hard with a pleasant buttery and nutty taste.

ANSWERS

1. Camembert, 2. Brie, 3. Mimolette, 4. Munster, 5. Neufchatel, 6. Crottin de Chavignol, 7. Comté, 8. Chabichou, 9. Fourme, d’Ambert, 10. Tomme de Savoie, 11. Roquefort, 12. Ossau-Iraty

SCORE GUIDE

10-12: Congratulations, you are a fully paid up turophile! Just remember to eat small portions like the French do!

6-9: Bien fait les fromagistes! You can show off at a party but that fancy restaurant cheese board may catch you out.

3-5: Not so bad, but you could improve your cheese knowledge and/or your geography to score better next time.

0-2: Time to visit France again and make sure to sample some cheese wherever you go. There are over 350 to try!

Credit/Source:  by France Today Editors/France Today.com

30 facts about France

30 facts about FranceHere are some interesting facts that provide general information on France and its population. And if you are already here, test how well you know the French! 

  1. France’s official name is the French Republic (République Française). It became a republic in 1792, after centuries of royal rule, as a result of the French Revolution. The Revolution started with the storming of the Bastille fortress on 14th July 1789, an event that is celebrated every year all over France on Bastille Day
  2. Liberté, égalitié, fraternité meaning ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ (or brotherhood) is the national motto of France. First appearing around the time of the Revolution, it was written into the constitution in 1958 and today you’ll see it on coins, postage stamps and government logos often alongside ‘Marianne’ who symbolises the ‘triumph of the Republic’
  3. France is the largest country in the EU. With an area of 551,000 square km, it’s almost a fifth of the EU’s total area. About a quarter is covered by forest; only Sweden and Finland have more.
  4. France is sometimes called ‘the hexagon’. Because of its six-sided shape, France is sometimes referred to as l’hexagone.
  5. France still retains 15 territories overseas. This includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Mayotte. Back on the mainland, Metropolitan France (including Corsica) is divided into 22 regions and sub-divided into 96 départements. The country’s colonial past is one reason why there are more than five million people of Arab and African descent living in France.
  6. Some 85 percent of the French population live in urban areas. The vast majority of France’s 65.5 million inhabitants live in urban areas, and Paris, the capital, has 2.2 million inhabitants alone, with metropolitan Paris home to a total of 11.9 million people in 2013, according to the Institut d’Amenagement et d’Urbanisme. France has the second largest population in Europe after Germany, making up 13 percent of the EU.
  7. French is the official language and the first language of 88 percent of the population. However, there are various indigenous regional dialects and languages, such as Alsacian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Occitan and Flemish. About 1 million French people living near the border with Italy speak Italian.
  8. The 500-year-old Académie Française aims to preserve the French language. It seeks to preserve the French language by attempting to ban – somewhat unsuccessfully – foreign words such as blog, hashtag, parking, email, and weekend.
  9. More than 80 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. Some 5-10 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Protestant, 1 percent are Jewish – and 4 percent are not affiliated to any religion. Perhaps surprisingly for a predominantly Catholic country, three-quarters of women of childbearing age use contraception.
  10. A French woman is the world’s oldest human. She lived to an incredible 122 years, 164 days, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Jeanne Louise Calment was born on February 21, 1875 (the year before Alexander Graham Bell got his patent for the very first telephone and Custer’s Last Stand) and died on August 4, 1997. Her compatriots generally live long longer than most other nationalities: France is rated sixth in the world for life expectancy at birth: 81.5 years (86 years for women and 79 for men).
  11. France has the second largest economy in the Eurozone. With a GDP of EUR 1.9 trillion (USD 2.613 trillion) according to figures from the World Bank, France’s economy is only second to Germany’s. France is one of the largest exporters of luxury goods in the world, with the top four companies Cartier, Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton alone worth around EUR 30.8 billion. Its main exports are far less glamorous: aircraft, food, chemicals, industrial machinery, iron and steel, electronics, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals.
  12. In 2013 France sold more electric cars than any other European country. With 8,779 registered vehicles, France sold more than twice as many as Germany and Norway.
  13. The world’s first artificial heart transplant and face transplant both took place in France. The heart transplant occured in December 2013 at the Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris. The bioprosthetic device, which mimics a real heart’s contractions, is powered by external lithium-ion battery, and is about three times the weight of a real organ. French surgeons were also the first to perform a face transplant in 2005.
  14. France has one of the highest average ages for women having their first child. Good childcare facilities allow 85 per cent of French women to work. However, this high level of employment has had an impact on the average age at which women have their first child. This has increased to 30.1 years, one of the highest amongst the OECD countries.
  15. Yet France has Europe’s second highest birth rate. Giving birth older hasn’t affected fertility rates though: France has Europe’s second highest birth rate (after Ireland) and accounts for more than half of the EU’s natural population increase.
  16. French workers retire younger than in other OECD countries. In 2012, the average age was 59.7 years for men and 60 for women, compared to the OECD averages of 64.2 and 63.3. People can claim a state pension at 62, which is one of the lowest retirement ages in the world.
  17. France legalised same-sex marriage in 2013. When President Françoise Holland signed the bill into law on May 18, 2013, France became the ninth country in Europe and 14th in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Although polls at the time showed that between 55 and 50 percent of French people supported gay marriage, not everyone is happy about it: thousands of people defending the so-called ‘family values’ continue to take to the streets in protest.
  18. Europe’s highest mountain is in the French Alps. Mont Blanc, at 4,810m, takes an arduous 10 to 12 hours to climb to the summit. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 20-minute trip up on Europe’s highest cable car on the nearby Pic du Midi to get a brilliant view of Mont Blanc.
  19. The Louvre Museum in Paris was the most visited museum in the world in 2012. With an amazing 9.5 million visitors, it received almost the same amount of people as the population of Sweden!
  20. The French have a strong sense of community. In the OECD Better life Survey 2013, 93 per cent of respondents said they knew someone they could rely on in times of need.
  21. At 29,000 km, the French rail network is the second largest in Europe (after Germany) and the ninth biggest in the world. France was one of the first countries in the world to utilise high-speed technology, introducing the TGV high-speed rail in 1981, and today has more than 1,550 km high-speed track. The Tours-Bordeaux high-speed project, due for completion in 2017, will add a further 302km. The first direct high-speed rail link connecting Paris with Barcelona in Spain opened at the end of 2013, with a journey time of under six-and-a-half hours.
  22. French wines can reach soaring prices. In 2013, a limited edition Balthazar – a massive 12-litre bottle – of Chateaux Margaux 2009 produced in the Médoc to the north of Bordeaux, went on sale in Dubai for an eye-watering GBP 122,380.
  23. The French invented the metric system, the decimalised way of counting and weighing, in 1793. The original prototype kilo – Le Grand K – a cylinder made in the 1880s out of platinum and iridium and about the size of a plum, was the only object known to scientists to have a mass of exactly 1kg. Everything else measured in kilograms is defined by Le Grand K. It’s kept locked away under three vacuum-sealed bell jars in a vault in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, France. Duplicate cylinders were sent around the world and every so often they’re compared to the original; but the Le Grand K mysteriously seem to be losing weight. The last time it was weighed, in 1988, it was found to be 0.05 milligrams (less than a grain of sugar) lighter than the copies. Did Le Grand K lose mass – or have the copies gained it? No one knows.
  24. The legal system in France is still largely influenced by Napoleon. French law is still based on the principles set down in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Code Civil back in the 1800s.
  25. The world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France, has been around for over 100 years. Every July, cyclists race some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) primarily around France in a series of stages over 23 days, with the fastest cyclist at each stage wearing the famous yellow jersey. In 2014, the Grand Départ will take place in Yorkshire in the UK.
  26. Throughout its history, France has produced some of the world’s most influential writers and thinkers: Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, Voltaire in the 18th, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th and Sartre and Camus in the 20th. To date, France has won more Noble Prizes for Literature (15) than any other country.
  27. There are over 1000 different types of cheese made in France. The blue/green-veined Roquefort is the oldest variety. Its ripening process, which takes place in natural caves, dates back to the 17th century.
  28. France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.Some 83 million visitors arrived in France in 2012, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
  29. Traditional and modern sports are popular in France. The most popular sports in France are football, rugby, tennis and cycling while older people still enjoy the traditional game ofpétanque or boules (a game played with heavy metal balls) in the town square. Le trotter Français is a type of horseracing where the rider sits in a two-wheeled buggy.
  30. April Fool’s Day in France apparently stems back to the 16th century. If you’re in France on April Fool’s Day, don’t be surprised if children try to stick paper fish onto your back and call you a ‘Poisson d’Avril‘ (April Fish). This April 1st tradition is supposed to have started in the 16th century when King Charles XIV of France changed the calendar and those who continued to celebrate the end of the New Year at the end of March were ridiculed as fools.

 Credit/Source:  Expatica

The Man Who Would Be King

Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou is recognized as the “Head of the House of Bourbon” and rightful claimant to the French crown by the Legitimist faction of French royalists who also considered him as the senior male heir of Hugh Capet, being the senior descendant of King Louis XIV of France (ruled 1643–1715) through his grandson King Philip V of Spain.Louis_XX

If the French throne were restored, Louis Alphonse would become King Louis XX of France. Louis was born in 1974 in Madrid. He is a great-grandson of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and first cousin once removed of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. He is the successor of the 10th generation from Louis XIV and the great-grandson of the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII.

His supporters usually call themselves legitimists, one of two claimant parties to the extinct throne of France. On February 7, 1984 Louis Alphonse’s older brother Francisco died as the result of a car crash. From then on, Louis Alphonse was considered to be the heir apparent to his father, according to the legitimists.

He was invested with his titles by his father, Monseigneur Duke of Anjou and Cadiz. Among those titles are Duke of Touraine, Duke of Bourbon (this followed the accidental death of his older brother François, age 12), and finally head of the House of Bourbon following the death (also accidental) of his father in 1989.

Perfectly trilingual (Spanish, French, English) with considerable knowledge of Italian and German, he obtained his diploma from the French high school in Madrid and studied economy and finance at the university. Like all Bourbons he is athletic and excels at riding, ice hockey and swimming.

He is an ordinary citizen and currently works in a large international bank in Venezuela and makes frequent visits to France where he has presided over sporting, historical and cultural events in Paris, Versailles, Metz, Marseille, Brest and Vendée.

In November 2004, he married 21-year-old Marie-Marguerite Vargas, a young Venezuelan descended from the Spanish conquistadors, whom he met while a student in Madrid.  They have a daughter and twin sons together. (see photos below)

Louis Alphonse is recognized as His Royal Highness by the French Minister of Justice.

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Comments he made during an interview:

“I am Royal Highness both in France and in Spain. In France it was the result of a court decision following the death of my father.  Not only do I have the right to bear the title Duke of Anjou…but also Royal Highness. On my birth certificate is the title royal highness, because my father was royal highness, and my brother who died also. It is also on my ID and my diplomatic passport.

From my father I inherited the hereditary right to the throne of France.  It is an historic and cultural heritage that I consider very important with obligations that I must fulfill. It is obvious that my wife Marie-Marguerite will be at my side.

I am the eldest of the Bourbons, that’s all…We are, that’s all and by virtue of this we assume fully our heritage…Grandeur is not in me, but in the moral heritage that falls to me.

…Sovereignty. That is the highest social function and no State can be without a sovereign. The choice of sovereign determines what the society will be and gives meaning to the State. You can be sure that for tomorrow and for the young who will have to build the new century and give it its values, I will know how to take my responsibilities and assume the heritage of tradition.

The future will be what we make of it…History is there to remind us that there are no irreversible situations.”

Does the monarchy have a future in France?

Yes, perhaps. It contains everything that is lacking today: longevity, the possibility to foresee and to act for the long term; its independence allows it to be an arbiter, a conciliator…because it’s a family, the dynasty reenforces family values in people’s minds; it restores the notion of the sacred, expressed or not in a confession. It is the bearer of the future; having learned, through the centuries, to adapt to the demands of every era, there is no reason why it cannot regain its capacity for adaptation, its mobility.

Published on Nov 22, 2013: Extraits

« Si les Français m’appellent je ne me déroberai pas. Je me sens prêt. Ce sera un changement de vie important, bien sûr, mais les grandes responsabilités ne me font pas peur.   Je suis disponible pour la France. »

 

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Source: Galliawatch and wikipedia and YouTube

Baccarat Celebrates its 250th Anniversary in Glitter and Glass

By Diane Stamm

To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk like us, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat. Les 250 ans,which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River. The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them. The section called Alchemierepresents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal.Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre– lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.

 

 

You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin. You will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.

 

 

Musée Baccarat

11, place des États-Unis, Paris 16th

01 40 22 11 00; 011 33 1 40 22 11 00

Metro: Boissière – Line 6; Iéna – Line 9

Museum hours: Mon and Wed–Sat 10am–6:30p; closed Tues, Sun, and holidays

Entrance fee: 7 euros; reduced fee 5 euros; free for those under 18, for students under 25, the unemployed, and the handicapped

Handicapped accessible

Restaurant

The Cristal Room

Tel:  01 40 22 11 10

Hours: Mon–Sat 12:30pm–2:30pm; 7:30pm–10:30pm; closed Sun

 

Credits: Article & Photos by Diane Stamm

Reblogged from: BonjourParis

A “killer” tote bag

During my recent trip to the Washington DC area, I was browsing in a hair salon waiting area. A shelf full of colorful, alligator-type textured hand clutches caught my eye.

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In looking closer, I was shocked at the tag displayed with the bags and really couldn’t believe my eyes!

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Why in the world would something like this be on the market & who, in their right mind, would buy one?   Anyone have any thoughts?