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Guilhempierre gate | Véronique PAGNIER / CC-BY-SA
Fortification Epidemic Manosque fortified gates

Manosque and the Guilhempierre gate: cholera and horseman on the roof

Scared stiff Here’s the Guilhem-Pierre gate. The former one was destroyed in 1836, after a cholera epidemic which decimated inhabitants of Manosque. Why? Because fresh air and light had to enter in this old medieval district, to disinfect the place! The gate was named after a notable from Manosque who lived in the 13th century. After the plague from Marseille which struck the city in 1720, the...
Nicolas Flamel | Austrian National Library (ÖNB) / Public domain
Mystery House Nicolas Flamel Nicolas Flamel's house

Nicolas Flamel, the little bourgeois who became a legend

Nico the public writer Nicolas Flamel? A Parisian legend... Well, gossips said he was an alchemist! Alchemy is a pretty mysterious practice both mystical and philosophical, aiming at transforming simple metals like lead into noble metals like... gold! Another goal is the immortality quest. And yet... Nicolas was a simple bourgeois, leading his cosy little life... Good husband, good Christian, he...
Mesmerized patients, painting by C.-L. Desrais (1784) | Wellcome Library, London / CC-BY
Street District Place Vendôme

Mesmer place Vendôme: the charlatan's tubs and trances

Fluid and escape in Paris At number 16 place Vendôme, look! Here’s the Serres town house. The famous Mesmer settled here in 1778! The doctor renowned for his magnetic tubs: the Parisian smart set were mad about them! He studied medicine in Germany, his native country. But one day, he discovered works written by a Jesuit father about animal magnetism. Animal what? ? Healing with a specific...
Chantilly at Condé's time | Internet Archive Book Images / Public domain
Castle Festivities Louis XIV Chantilly castle

Vatel's almost perfect dinner in Chantilly

A party for the king The famous chef Vatel in Chantilly! The Grand Condé, the castle’s owner, had a big party in honour of king Louis XIV, in April 1671. Louis came 3 days. He turned up on Tuesday, he hunted, went for a stroll in the park. Then they took diner in a place full of daffodils. This special night, chef Vatel presided in the kitchen. He was the greatest chef, the perfection...
De casibus virorum illustrium, 15th c | The British Library / Public domain
Animals Bridge Petit-Pont in Paris

The monnaie de singe of the Petit-Pont

Payer en monnaie de singe, "to fob somebody off"... well, a pretty famous French expression! But do you know it comes from the Petit-Pont in Paris? We learn that in the book Histoire de Paris et de ses monuments(J. -A. Dulaure, 1846). In the 13th century, king of France saint Louis received a toll right on this bridge. A toll from those who used the bridge, including animals. Especially monkeys:...
The river Loir, Montigny | Blood Destructor / CC-BY-SA
Castle Legend Montigny-le-Gannelon castle

The legend of the lady of Montigny

The harpy and the ol' beggar Lord Jean of Montigny went to war and let his wife alone in the castle. He was a generous and kind chap but she was a real harpy! Months and months flew by and Jean didn’t come home. Until this day... an old beggar woman tapped on the castle's door, with her 7 kids following her. She just begged for alms... The lady of Montigny immediately kicked her out, yelling:...
The grave | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Basilica Accident Jean-Baptiste Lully Notre-Dame-des-Victoires basilica

Lully: his grave in Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, his stupid death

Lully's grave Hey! Lully was buried in Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. We can see his grave topped by a bust by sculptor Collignon. Between Lully, two Genies: the profane Music and the sacred Music... On the other side, look: a gorgeous bust made by the famous sculptor Coysevox! Hey, why did they bury him in this basilica? Because Lully lived in this district! At the corner of the rue Sainte-Anne and...
Paris Stock Exchange, L'Illustration, 1840 | Internet Archive Book Images / Public domain
Accident House Brongniart palace

Gallo, the Breton anarchist, attacked Paris Stock Exchange... and it stinked!

Stink-bomb! March 5th 1886. Place de la Bourse. 3: 15 PM. It was a cold afternoon. The crowd of regular small investors overran inside the Stock Exchange. At that moment, a guy turned up and weaved through the crowd, silently, among the coats rustle... A furtive silhouette who suddenly threw away a little phial full of prussic acid in the palace’s galleries! It broke. A smoke, then a horrible...
The bronze doors | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Accident Parish church Madeleine church in Paris

Pauwels the anarchist exploded against La Madeleine's doors

Anarchy in France Between 1892 and 1894, a surge of attacks struck France. Paris, especially. It happened in a pretty strained context: the rich became richer and the poor... sank into poverty. The reaction was... anarchy! ! For instance, we had the failed attack of Paris Stock Exchangeor the murder of president Carnot in Lyon. The violence wave ended with the execution of 30 anarchists in...
Extract from Louis XIV, Les arts, les idées (1896) | The British Library / Public domain
Arch Festivities Louise de La Vallière Louis XIV Carrousel arch

Louvre Carousel's origin: king Louis XIV showed off and became the Sun King

Big party! Aaah, Louis XIV looked really nice, on his white horse, proudly caracoling. Ladies chuckled and tried to be the centre of attention. But Louis only had eyes for his beloved Louise de La Vallière. He was 24 years old, he had met Louise the blonde 2 years ago. She was his first official mistress! And for his lover, Louis really did things properly: he gave a two days party, in June 1662....
Sens townhouse | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Homicide Execution Adultery Town house Queen Margot Sens townhouse in Paris

Queen Margot, bald and obese, in Sens townhouse: whoosh, two lovers missing

After Auvergne, Paris! April 5th 1606. A big fat lump was trotting along Sully townhouse. Oh, she was queen Margot. Whoa, gosh! It’s a chock! When she was younger, all the chaps were in love with her and she looked like a callipyge goddess... Well, now, Marguerite of Valois lived in this townhouse, exiled by her husband king Henri IV of France, since their divorce in 1599. The ex-queen Margot......
The façade in the inner courtyard | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Town house Voltaire Sully townhouse

Voltaire's beating up in front of Sully townhouse

The dinner December 1725. Voltaire, 30 years old, was invited to lunch by duke of Sully in his Parisian townhouse. Suddenly, a domestic turned up and gave him a note. Men were waiting for him downstairs and wanted to speak with him about a business concerning him. A plot. Voltaire frowned. Plot? ? He left his host and get down the stairs four at a time. There, he found 3 men in front of the city...