French History

Courrières Mine Disaster of 1906

One of the worst mining tragedies in history, the explosion that sent fire through the Courrières mine tunnels claimed more than a thousand lives. It also created awareness of dangerous issues in mines that hadn't received much focus up to that point.

The Krampus and Friends Holiday Special, Part 2

In addition to the characters we talked about on our last episode, there are even more colorful holiday traditions that may be a bit surprising to people who didn't grow up with them. That includes the ogress of Iceland and the Catalan pooping log. Read the show notes here.

Gilles Garnier, the Werewolf of Dole

Sixteenth-century France had a serious case of werewolf panic. Did Garnier really transform into lupine form and attack and eat humans? Or were the gruesome deaths of several children merely the work of wild animals?

The Franco-Mexican Pastry War

When a French pastry chef complained to King Louis-Phillippe that his shop in Mexico was destroyed in a riot, it catalyzed a conflict between the two nations. But the military action of the Pastry War was really about a trade agreements and unpaid debts.

Charles IX of France

Much like many of the other mad royals that have been discussed on the podcast through the years, Charles IX of France was prone to fits of rage so intense that people at court feared for their lives.

The Wright Brothers: An Interview With David McCullough

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, talks about his research and discoveries about the Wright brothers, their extreme determination, their family, and the many, many people who played parts in their great success as innovators. Read the show notes here.

The Ghost Army

During WWII, the U.S. Army formed a top-secret military unit with one goal: Use artistic and theatrical skills to confuse the enemy. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops turned their creativity into incredible strategic trickery. Read the show notes here.

The House of Worth and the Birth of Haute Couture

Before Charles Worth, the idea of ready made clothes for purchase didn't really exist. Neither did the idea of a design house that showed seasonal collections. This one man's vision invented the fashion industry as we know it today.

Beast of Gevaudan

Attacks on women and children of Gevaudan in the 1760s sparked a huge effort to hunt and kill the mystery beast behind them. While efforts to track the animal struggled, France was gripped in terror. Read the show notes here.

Les Filles du Roi

While the building of a population in a new colony seems like a tricky endeavor, France's King Louis XIV launched a scheme to do just that by shipping eligible ladies to New France in the 1600s. Read the show notes here.