Category Archives: French History

Did Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love Ever Really Reign at the Moulin Rouge?

Yesterday found me watching Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!. This, I must confess, is not an entirely uncommon occurrence. In fact, were I to feed all my innermost preferences into some kind of film-making robot and send it off for a few months, it’d probably come back with something very like Moulin Rouge! in the can. […]

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Lost Paris: The Elephant on the Place de la Bastille

Of all the strange monuments that ever appeared on the Parisian skyline (and there have been a few), one of the most outlandish is surely the Elephant that occupied the Place de la Bastille in the wake of the Revolution.   The Bastille prison had been despised by Parisians for many reasons, not least among […]

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Lost Paris: A snapshot of 1730s Paris

This wonderful, 33 megapixel, zoomable marvel is known as the Turgot Map of Paris, and it’s a remarkable document in all sorts of ways. I like to imagine that were you to be offered the chance to drift above Paris in a hot air balloon in the 1730s (disregarding the fact that this was impossible, […]

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Lost Paris: A new series

Lost Paris. It’s one of those phrases that sounds so much more poetic in French: Paris Disparu. Listen, you can practically hear the sad wind whistling around those forgotten streets. Paris, it seems to me, has more than its fair share of lieux de mémoire – those places where history “crystallizes and secretes itself”, where it seeps […]

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Marie Antoinette and her Children: The mystery and the history of Louis Charles in the tower. Part 2

In part 1 of this story, we followed the rapidly deteriorating fortunes of the young Louis Charles, son of Marie Antoinette, as his family faced imprisonment in the forbidding tower of the Temple, his father, Louis XVI, was sent to the guillotine, and he was wrenched away from his mother and placed under the tutelage […]

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