French History

The Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs contain the bones of an estimated 6 to 7 million people. Their history is really two interconnected stories of mines and human remains, because in the 18th century, Paris was dealing with two huge problems simultaneously.

Jeanne Baret

Baret was the first woman known to circumnavigate the globe. But her experience wasn’t just about the travel – she was working, and her work took her to places that were totally unexpected for someone of her gender and economic class in the 18th century.  



Marie Laurencin: Avante-garde Painter of Paris

Laurencin is a difficult painter to study. In addition to her work not quite falling in line with the artists who were her contemporaries, her personal papers are difficult to access, are censored, and have strict limitations put on their use. 




Alexandre Dumas Père

Alexandre Dumas wrote such classics as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, and both those books’ sequels, eight Marie Antoinette romances, and a BUNCH of other novels and plays. And essays. And travel books. And memoirs. And a dictionary of cuisine. Hundreds and hundreds of works. 



Auguste Escoffier

Any chefs in our listening audience undoubtedly know about Auguste Escoffier, but people who haven’t studied cuisine may not realize that this one man revolutionized food preparation and restaurant dining in ways that are still part of almost any meal you may be served today. 



Battle of Amiens

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, near the end of World War I. Amiens was the start of what came to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, which was the Allies’ final push to win the war. 




The First Celebrity Chef: Marie-Antoine Carême

Today, there is an entire industry around celebrity chefs. But the first celebrity chef in the western world's history was born in late 18th-century France.

Léonard Autié: Hair, Grandeur and Revolution, Pt. 2

As Louis XVI's time as king was less and less stable in the face of the French Revolution, Léonard stepped away from the royal family and into his own business ventures. But his loyalty to the crown would forever tie his fate to that of the nobility.

Léonard Autié: Hair, Grandeur and Revolution, Pt. 1

Marie Antoinette's hairdresser set the styles of France during King Louis XVI's reign. But when he first arrived in Paris, he had almost nothing. Just how did he manage such a meteoric rise?

Charles VI of France: The Mad King

France’s mad king Charles VI reigned in the middle of the Hundred Years War between England and France. While his early reign hinted at greatness, things soon spiraled downward.