Category Archives: French Architecture

Episode 42 Centre Georges Pompidou


Pompidou Center Paris
Pompidou Center, photo Jean-Alexis AUFAUVRE

The Centre Georges Pompidou is one of Elyse’s favorite places in Paris, which may come as a surprise to our listeners because it’s not a visually attractive place by most people’s reckoning. What she loves about it is not only what’s inside of the museum, but also the environment and atmosphere of the place itself. Let’s see if she can sell it to us in this episode!
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Chartres Cathedral, Episode 26

Chartres cathedral

The Chartres Cathedral

This week we take you to the world-famous Gothic Chartres Cathedral, one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France, and a place where the blue stained-glass windows will surely take your breath away. We discuss the circumstances surrounding the building of this Cathedral in the 1200s, the pilgrimage that brought hundreds of thousands to this church over the last 800 years, and how you can visit it on an easy 6-hour day-trip from Paris. You’ve heard Elyse make reference to it many times on the podcast, now you should consider going to see it for yourself!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
 Episode Highlights
  • How you can visit Chartres on a Day-Trip from Paris
  • One of the first areas of France to be Christianized
  • Oldest UNESCO World Heritage Site in France
  • Relic of the Virgin Mary at the Chartres Cathedral
  • The Chartres school of philosophy founded in the 10th Century
  • The Romanesque church of Chartres burned down in the year 1195
  • The new Gothic Cathedral was completed in 1224 and it only took 30 years
  • The tenants of Gothic Architecture
  • Built after Saint-Denis, but before Notre Dame
  • Blue stained-glass windows
  • There are 26,000 square feet of stained-glass windows at the Chartres Cathedral
  • The Labyrinth on the floor
  • The cost of restoration
  • How this masterpiece survived WWI and WWII
  • The Crypt
  • The city
  • How to visit by train from Paris
  • 3 great day-trips from Paris

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Episode 22 Canal du Midi

Canal du midi

Bridge over the Canal du Midi
Photo Peter Gugerel

The Canal du Midi is a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s best engineering achievements of the 1700s. This long-awaited canal was designed to open up the landlocked area of Toulouse to commerce and make it possible to go between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean without going all the way around Portugal and Spain.  The man who designed the Canal du Midi and carried the project, Pierre Paul Riquet, was a man of the Enlightenment who brought human as well as technological innovations to the Southwest of France.

By now, the Canal du Midi is not as vital to commerce as it once was, but it has not lost any of its charm. Amateurs of slow travel take cruises on the canal by the thousands each year, and many more enjoy walks and bike rides along its beautiful banks. You should definitely include a stop on the Canal du Midi next time you visit Southwestern France!
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Notre Dame Architectural Style, Episode 5

Notre Dame architectural style, cathedral photographed from the back

Notre Dame Architectural Style

In today’s episode, Elyse talks to us about the Notre Dame Architectural Style. She explains the architectural innovations you can see at Notre Dame, she explains the function of stained glass windows, the architectural purpose of chimeras and gargoyles, the art you will see at Notre Dame, and many things that you need to understand about medieval architecture.

Many medieval visitors were illiterate, but back then, they knew how to read the statues and stained-glass windows they saw in Cathedrals. We have lost this knowledge today. That is why you need to listen to this episode and get a quick course in how to read a cathedral by looking at the art and the pictures.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
 Episode Highlights with Time Stamps
  • Limestone church [1’50”]
  • The 3 entrances of Notre Dame and what they mean [5’45”]
  • The Kings on the upper part of the facade  [10′]
  • The restauration of the facade in the XIX century [11’20”]
  • The structure of Notre Dame, Notre Dame architectural style and innovation  [14’15”]
  • Stained-glass windows [16’40”]
  • Gargoyles, chimeras and what they mean in medieval architecture [19’30”]
  • Architectural innovations at Notre Dame: the flying buttresses [23’15”]
  • Walk around Notre Dame [30′]

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The Sainte Chapelle in Paris, Episode 3

Sainte Chapelle in ParisThe Sainte Chapelle in Paris

On today’s episode we discuss the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. It was the King’s private chapel, and this is the one place in Paris that will make you feel like a king too. This should be on everyone’s Top-10 for Paris, really, even if you don’t enjoy visiting churches.

On a sunny day, the Sainte Chapelle feels like walking into a kaleidoscope. The colors will overwhelm you and you’ll never look at stained-glass windows the same way. The kings knew things about light and color that we’ve since forgotten, and it’s a privilege to see them again.

The Sainte-Chapelle is not very big, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours to see it all, but these are two hours you will never forget. So next time you’re in Paris go!

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