Feb 24, 2017

The Highest Heights: Laïous


After going down, down, down to the deepest moat in Europe, now I take you up to the tallest castle in France: the Château de Brissac. It also happens to be Gigi's favorite castle in Europe, and that's really saying something, because she's generally claims to suffer from a serious case of castle burn-out. In this case, it's not actually the height that impresses her, it's the history.

Feb 17, 2017

Deep Moat: Le P'tit Azay


Château de Brézé could be just another castle except for one profound difference, literally profound. It's a medieval castle with what is purported to be the deepest dry moat in Europe. And the moat is not just a channel dug around the castle; it's its own labyrinthine fortress with caverns, tunnels, staircases, bridges, ovens, wine presses, horse stables, and living quarters. It has at one time been a wine cellar, silk work farm, bakery, and military barracks.  Its tagline: Château de Brézé, A Château under a Château.

Feb 10, 2017

Can't Beat That Sweet Treat: Kaïkou


Fluffy sugary things. You can't beat that. Or, rather, not only can you beat that, you must beat that, because that's how sugar gets so fluffy in the first place. The French make their sugar go further, stretching it (sometimes literally) with egg whites and other ingredients to come up with three very French, very sweet treats: guimauves (like marshmallows), nougat, and meringue. Just so you know, I don't love any of them.

Feb 3, 2017

Libraries vs. Librairies: Bouca


The rest of the world can go on their Kindles and iPhones, but the French still like good, old-fashioned books. Sometimes old-fashioned to the point of antique.

The French celebrate books and writers and poets and philosopher-poets and philosopher-writers like Americans honor athletes and war heroes. As somebody who loves a good book, it just makes me love the French more. A chicken in every pot? More like a bookstore on every corner.

Jan 27, 2017

Five A's that I Give an F: Pommeau


The Friendly Association of Authentic Andouillette Lovers (known in French as the Association Amicale des Amateurs d'Andouillette Authentique -- or better yet, AAAAA or 5A) will clearly beg to differ with me, but authentic 5A andouillette is the closest thing to a teenage boy's gym sock that I ever want to smell or eat. And I'm a person who eats maggot-covered stinky French cheese for fun.

Jan 20, 2017

They Got Us Covered: Chavroux


It takes so little for my daughters to be punk and rebellious here in France: a little temporary dye in their hair, ripped jeans, a cropped top that shows a belly button. Sacré bleu! So racy! Let's play a game: How many French school dress-code violations can you spot in this photo?

Jan 13, 2017

The Pagentry of Tapestry: Le Petit Saint Roch


By pure accident, I have now seen several of the most famous, most beautiful tapestries in the world. Is it any wonder that France created and houses so many of these treasures? It seems like a fancy tapestry kind of place. Or, more accurately, places: several of the great houses for manufacturing tapestries in history were Aubusson, Beauvais (where you can still have tapestries made today), and the most famous of all, right around the corner from me in Paris, Manufacture des Gobelins.

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