The Four Queens of Provence

There have been many famous families in history. Take the Curies, for example: Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes and her husband, daughter and grandson each won one. Quite the talented family! And then there are the Wright brothers and the Brontë sisters. And let’s not forget those comic masters, the Marx brothers.

But imagine a family where not one, not two, but four sisters become queens, each heading a great European power. It’s hard to believe, but it actually happened in the 13th century! It’s a tale of Pride and Prejudice meets Game of Thrones…

Read the whole story at The Good Life France!

The Immortal Women of France

For too long, French institutions have been boys’ clubs. The august Académie française, for example, was founded in 1635 but only elected its first woman member in 1980!

But things are slowly starting to change and now 9 women have been named members of the Académie, or “Immortals.” Let’s meet them.

Read the rest of the article at My French Life.

Legends of Provence: The Monk Known as Romée de Villeneuve

I recently picked up a book called Legendes de Provence by Eugene Bressy. Over the next few months I’ll dive into some of these stories and let you decide whether you believe them or not. The first one was about the fearsome Tarasque monster.

Here’s the second one, about truth, lies and jealousy in the court of the Count of Provence. As Molière once said, “There are no ramparts against gossip.”

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

Legends of Provence: The Tarasque Monster of Tarascon

I recently picked up a book called Legendes de Provence by Eugene Bressy. It’s a series of short stories about the legends of Provence: famous heroes, spiritual leaders and the occasional monster. Over the next few months I’ll dive into some of these stories and let you decide whether you believe them or not.

I’ll start with the most famous legend of them all, that of the fearsome Tarasque, who terrorized Provence until he met a plucky young lady named…Well, I’ll let you read all about it at Perfectly Provence.

One Tough Lady

She was the most powerful woman in 16th-century Europe, ruling France for nearly 20 years. She brought haute cuisine to the country, created the Tuileries Garden in Paris, and was responsible for one of the bloodiest massacres in French history. People thought she was a sorceress who murdered her enemies. Her name is Catherine de Medici and she was one tough lady.

Read her fascinating story at Frenchly.

“Paris was not itself!”

This month marks the 50th anniversary of May, 1968, when strikes and student protests nearly brought down the French government. I recently talked to three people who participated in or lived through these tumultuous times about their experiences. At the time, one was a French university student, another a French factory worker, and the third an American grad student doing research for his PhD. Their three different perspectives are fascinating.

You can read the entire article at Frenchly.

French Baby Names: Chloé oui, Nutella non

Americans can call their children practically anything they want. Beyoncé’s daughter is named Blue Ivy. Frank Zappa’s kids are Moon Unit and Dweezil. And unusual names are not just for the offspring of celebrities—people have actually named their kids Cheese, Fairy, and Jag.

This is not the case in France, where courts can reject a name if it is not in the best interest of the child. So can a French couple call their child Manhattan? How about Mini Cooper? Or Nutella? Non, non, and non. French courts have rejected those names and more.

Read all about the long history of French baby-naming laws at Frenchly.

A Trip Through Jewish History in Provence

Despite having deep Catholic roots, France has the third-largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States. Jewish communities have existed in the country since the first century and it has long been a center of Jewish learning.

You might think that Paris, with its famous Marais neighborhood, is the center of French Jewish life. And while that is true today, it hasn’t always been. For centuries, it was Provence.

Read more about Jewish history in Provence at Frenchly.