Mirepoix, Episode 81

Elyse giving a tour in Mirepoix
Elyse giving a tour in Mirepoix

Mirepoix, Medieval City

On today’s show Elyse shares with us the wonderful and unusual story of the city of Mirepoix in the Arriège department. This medieval city is full of charm but it is not as well-known as some of the others cities nearby such as Carcassonne or Foix. On the show you’ll hear about Cathars, about a dramatic flood that entirely destroyed the city in the Middle Ages, how Mirepoix rose back from the disaster from the help of a family of magnanimous conquerors, and how it is one of the places that should not be missed in the south-west.

Places Mentioned on the Show

French/Dutch Island of Saint Martin or Saint Marteen in the Caribbean. Mirepoix, Arriège.

French Tip of the Week

“J’ai une mémoire de poisson rouge” = I have a bad memory (starts at 53:42)

To Prepare for Your Visit

Medieval Gnostics: Cathar Rituals


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Mirepoix

Cathar Area

1206 Convention of Cathars in Mirepoix to find a way to defend themselves against anticipated Catholic assault on the Cathars. They were correct to think about it because the war that took the Cathars off the map started 3 years later. This war is also the one that took Carcassonne and Foix later. Simon de Montfort was at the head of this army and his first Lieutenant was Guy de Lévis and they took Mirepoix without much resistance because it was not a fortified city.

Mirepoix

Guy de Lévis Rebuilds

Guy de Lévis is gifted lordship over Mirepoix and it turns out that he is a benevolent ruler who helps develop the city. On June 22nd, 1289 a damn up-river (L’Hers-Vif) breaks and the village of Mirepoix is left. The only thing that remains is a bit of the castle that you can still see today. The village is rebuilt on the other side of the river and instead of putting the church at the center of the city (perhaps they were still a little sore about the war against the Cathars?), they put the market at the center of city life. The Lévis family has had a very positive influence over the area.

Mirepoix
Labyrinthe inside the Cathedral in Mirepoix

The Black Prince Destroys Mirepoix

Mirepoix is the victim of the Black Prince from England and this latest disaster convinces the inhabitants to build stone walls around the city. These came much later than most fortifications, with four gates and trenches all around. You can still see two of those gates in Mirepoix today.

MirepoixSeeing Mirepoix Today

Elyse gives recommendations on what you should see in Mirepoix today and discusses the hotels and events in the city. And of course we encourage you to take a proper tour with Elyse, you’ll love it! We end on a small rant on how a small town such as Mirepoix still has two great bookstores while Annie couldn’t find more than one book store left in Philadelphia!

Mirepoix

 

Great Museums for Free in Paris, Episode 80


France in the Cheap: Free Museums in Paris
Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris

Tired of opening your wallet every hour while on vacation in Paris? Paris has some OUTSTANDING free museums that most visitors never think of trying. In this episode I tell you why you should try them! Get out and see more without paying a dime. And remember that in Paris even free municipal museums are world-class, so give your credit card a rest and enjoy some amazing hidden museums in Paris for free.
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Continue reading Great Museums for Free in Paris, Episode 80

The Curie Museum in Paris, Episode 79

The Curie Museum in Paris, Episode 79

Marie Curie and atom RA

A few years back I wanted to visit the Curie Museum in Paris and it was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2012, but I didn’t have a chance to see it until 2015, but this one was worth the proverbial wait. It’ s a small museum: even if you carefully look at every display, it will only take an hour or two.

There won’t be throngs of people clotting around the Mona Lisa, you’ll be able to look at everything without being rushed. And, in keeping with the Curie spirit,  admission is free, but you must go Wed-Sat from 1 PM until 5 PM.  Squeeze it in, it’s worth it!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Episode Highlights

  • Marie’s youth
  • How she met Pierre
  • Two elements and one baby in the same year
  • The medical uses of radium
  • An odd courtship
  • The radioactivity puzzle
  • 1903, a hard year for the Curie family
  • Radioactivity gets into everything!
  • Pierre voluntarily exposes himself to radium
  • “Nul n’est prophète en son pays” (you can’t be a prophet in your own village)
  • In science we must be interested in things, not in persons
  • Pierre dies on rue Dauphine
  • Marie gets offered his chair at the Sorbonne
  • End of life

To Prepare for Your Trip: Madame Curie: A Biography

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Curie Museum in ParisIn this episode I give you the background information you’ll want to know before you go so you can appreciate what she was all about. Nobody can do justice to a great family in the span of a short podcast, but I shall try.

 

Curie Museum in ParisDiscrimination Against Women as Seen in Marie Curie’s Life

  • She could not enroll in the university in Poland, she had to expatriate herself in order to study
  • Everyone assumed she was her husband’s assistant
  • Her husband Pierre is the one that made sure she got recognition
  • She didn’t have a chance to teach at the Sorbonne until her husband died
  • The nomination for her first Nobel Prize did not initially include Marie’s name!
  • In a science team that included both men and women, everyone used to assume the men did all the work
  • Marie Curie could not present her findings at the French Academy of Sciences because, being a woman, she couldn’t be a member of the Academy of Sciences
  • The Curie Museum in Paris is lovely, but it’s tiny. There are old-dead generals with more recognition than she gets in Paris, and that is outrageous!
  • No use of the first person in formal papers which makes it difficult to decide who did what

Curie Museum in Paris

  • Marie Curie was not only hard-working, she was brilliant as well
  • Albert Einstein said “Marie Curie is, of all beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted”

And finally, this is the standard response people received when they requested an autograph picture:

Curie Museum in Paris
Madame Curie does not wish to sign autographs or sign pictures; she asks for your indulgence.

Official website for the Curie Museum in Paris

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