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MATISSE, A NUN, AND A CHAPEL

Night Nurse Needed – Should be young and pretty. This was the ad Henri Matisse placed with the nursing school in Nice, France in 1942. He was seventy-two years-old […]

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Victor Hugo and the Joker

  When you think of French writer, Victor Hugo, you probably think of his classic works, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre Dame de Paris) or Les Miserable. […]

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Berets, Onions, and Stereotypes

  Berets and Onions In the mid 1900s, if you had asked nearly any British person what a Frenchman looked like, you would have gotten this description: He […]

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Crazy Calendar of a Revolutionary Republic

The French Revolutionaries weren’t content with just changing their government. They wanted to change everything – even how they kept track of time. The Calendar Committee The old Gregorian […]

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The Provence Christmas Story

  You may know the traditional Biblical Christmas story, but in Provence, there is a bit more to it. The Provence Christmas story is told in a Nativity […]

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The Mistral of Provence

The Master Wind Provence claims thirty-two different winds, but the mistral, that strong, cold wind that roars down the Rhone Valley from Lyon to Marseille, is master of […]

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Five Riviera Cocteau Treasures

Jean Cocteau was truly a multi-talented artist. He considered himself a poet, but he was also a novelist, playwright, film director, set designer, painter, and ceramicist – a […]

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Bob was a Woman of Many Talents

  In Paris in 1902, young Dr. Marcile was head-over-heels in love. The young lady who was the object of his affection loved him too, but her parents […]

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God Save the Royal Derriere

Queen Elizabeth II is now officially the longest reigning monarch in British history. The 89 year old Queen has broken the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen…

Cat Cafés and Why Cats Purr

Have you heard of cat cafés? No, they are not where cats go to have their morning coffee and read the newspaper. They are for us humans,…

Mistletoe and a Flying Donkey

Mistletoe in French is called gui (rhymes with the first part of geese). This ball of vegetation that grows high in the trees has been considered magical since ancient days […]

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History of the French Beret

The French beret, that little pancake of a hat, has become the recognized symbol of all things French – at least among those outside of France. The traditional […]

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Mosaics on the Hill

  In the last post we looked at Homer’s Odyssey mosaics in the park on the Colline du Chateau or “Castle Hill” in Nice, France. But have a look around the park […]

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Homer’s Odyssey in 13 Easy Steps

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the Greek classics (or if you just never got around to it) no worries! There’s no need to pull out […]

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The Ephrussis: Dog Weddings, Duels, and Stalin?

The elegant pink villa on the promontory of St. Jean Cap Ferrat was built for Charlotte Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild.  She was born into the European banking family […]

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Marie Antoinette’s Cats and an American Rescue Attempt

Did you know that Marie Antoinette almost escaped the guillotine and ended up in Maine, USA? Of course, we all know she didn’t make it – but some […]

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The King is no Match for the Women of Paris

It was three months after the storming of the Bastille, which signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, and there was still a rumbling in the streets of […]

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The Man who Sold the Eiffel Tower

It was 1925 and Victor Lustig was sitting in his Paris hotel room reading a newspaper article about the Eiffel Tower.  That gigantic structure had been built for […]

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The Cats of La Romieu

One of the main tourist attractions in the small medieval village of La Romieu, in southwest France, is the abundance of cats to be found there.  They sun […]

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History of the Baguette: Legends, Laws, and Lengthy Loaves

What could be more traditionally French than the baguette, that long slender loaf of bread that has become an instantly recognised symbol of France?  At any hour of […]

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