Tag Archives: france

National Café au Lait Day

coffee calendarFebruary 17 is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is a French coffee drink, consisting of coffee with hot milk added. The name is literally translated from French as “coffee with milk.”

We’re not sure why this day was chosen to honor this delicious coffee beverage, but if you need a pick-me-up, then today is the perfect day to celebrate! In Europe, café au lait is usually prepared using an espresso machine, mixing espresso with steamed milk. To contrast, in the United States, café au lait is usually made using a dark roasted drip or French press prepared coffee with steamed milk added.

The beverage gained a significant amount of popularity in New Orleans, where the well-known cafe, Café du Monde, located in the French Quarter, serves a popular version which includes the addition of chicory to their coffee. The chicory has a slightly bitter flavor that offsets the taste of beignets, which are deep-fried pastries covered in powdered sugar. Though café au lait has become a favored coffee drink for many, there are some who think adding milk to your coffee detracts from the flavor of the coffee too much. French author Honoré de Balzac once called café au laits a “ludicrous” drink.

While we suggest going to your favorite coffee shop to get a café au lait today, you can also make this caffeinated drink at home. Here are a few recipes for you to try out:

Sources: Wikipedia, Food.com, Examiner.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Marie Antoinette Beheaded

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty, 1775.

Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty, 1775.

On October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette, who was the Queen of France from 1774-1792, was beheaded at the Place de la Révolution in Paris, France.

The future Queen of France was born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna in 1755 in Austria to Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa. As part of a plan to “unite” Austria and France after the Seven Years’ War, and due to the fact that several of Maria Antonia’s female relatives died during a smallpox outbreak, it was decided that she would marry Louis XVI, Dauphin of France. At the age of 14, Maria Antonia married Louis XVI by proxy and was renamed Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France.

At first, Marie Antoinette was considered to be very popular with the people of France. Her first official appearance at the Tuileries in Paris was reported to have 50,000 people crying out to see her. The general public at this time was swooned by her beauty and personality. The French Court had a different opinion of her due to the long-time tensions between France and Austria.

Since the beginning of her marriage and her move to Versailles, the Dauphine received letters from her mother which were often filled with criticism. These criticisms included how Marie Antoinette could not “inspire passion” in her husband who occupied himself with his hobbies, or that she was no longer pretty and had lost her grace. Because of the lack of attention she received from her husband and the incessant criticism of her mother, Marie Antoinette began to spend money extravagantly on clothing and gambling. This extravagant spending would later work against her and how the people of France viewed her.

Marie continued to perform her wifely duties and finally began to bear children with her husband after they were married for seven years. Her spending habits did not cease, and she became known for her over-the-top fashions in the French court. Louis XVI sent large amounts of money to America to aid the American Revolution, which pushed France into further debt and raised taxes, even further negatively affecting the poorer people of France. This combined with increasing unemployment across France and poor crops caused the French people to be filled with resentment for the French monarchy by the late 1780s. Marie became an obvious target for hatred because of her Austrian heritage and her spending habits while the people of France were starving.

On July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the French prison of Bastille, marking a turning point in the French Revolution. That October, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their surviving two children were taken from the Palace of Versailles and put under house arrest at the Tuileries of Paris. In September of 1792, it was officially declared that the French monarchy had fallen. Louis XVI was separated from his family and was executed by guillotine in January of 1793.

Mourning the loss of her husband, Marie Antoinette became severely depressed, refused to eat, and suffered from tuberculosis and possibly uterine cancer. She was charged with treason on the morning of October 16, 1793 after two days of court proceedings and was paraded around Paris for several hours in an open cart with her hair cut off. She was beheaded around noon that same day and her last words were, “Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it,” after she stepped on her executioner’s foot.

Sources: Wikipedia, MentalFloss.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Louis Pasteur Dies

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole, France. Pasteur is most known for his work in germ theory which led him to create the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax and for the invention of pasteurization. Pasteurization is a process by which you heat and cool liquids (like milk and wine) to prevent bacterial contamination.

Louis Pasteur is considered the father of microbiology and one of the three founders of Bacteriology. He suffered multiple strokes, from which he never fully recovered, and died on September 28, 1895 at the age of 72 in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. Pasteur’s breakthroughs in bacterial studies and vaccinations have saved countless lives all over the world.

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Nostradamus Dies at 62

Renowned French apothecary and prophet Nostradamus was born Michel de Nostradame in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France in December of 1503. Nostradamus worked as a doctor treating people who were sick with the plague when he had a psychic revelation.

From then on, he became a seer, publishing various prophetic collections, the most popular of which, “Les Propheties” was created in 1555. These collections have been interpreted over centuries and many of his followers credit him with anticipating several major events around the globe, from Hitler to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Nostradamus died on July 2, 1566 due to complications from gout and edema. The day before he had predicted his own death to his secretary, saying: “You will not find me alive at sunrise.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Joan of Arc Killed

French folk heroine and Roman Catholic Saint, Joan of Arc was executed on May 30, 1431.

Nicknamed the “Maid of Orleans”, Joan of Arc was born into a peasant family in Domremy, France in 1412. She claimed divine guidance, starting to hear voices of saints, stating that St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine began communicating with her when she was just 12.

At the tender age of 17, Joan joined the dauphin and his forces in the fight against the English King Henry VI, as advised by the voices of the saints. Following their guidance, Joan of Arc led the French army to victory over the British forces during the Hundred Years War.

Strong as she was, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians and handed over to the British troops in 1430. She was subsequently put on trial for “insubordination and heterodoxy” and was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 at the age of 19.

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Bastille Day

July 14 is Bastille Day! Bastille Day is a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille – then a symbol of the absolute power of King Louis XIV’s old regime -  on July 14, 1789, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution, the end of the old regime and absolute monarchy and, eventually, the creation of the French Republic in 1792.

Bastille Day celebrations include the traditional military parade on the Champs-Elysées, communal meals, dancing, musical performances and firework displays.

Learn more about Bastille Day  and the history behind the holiday by clicking the source links below.

Sources: diplomatie.gouv.fr, timeanddate.com, french.about.com
Read full storyComments { 0 }