Cordes-sur-Ciel, Episode 88

Cordes-sur-Ciel photo Thierry Llansades
Cordes sur Ciel photo Thierry Llansades

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Most Beloved French Village

On today’s show Elyse tells us about Cordes-sur-Ciel. Cordes was elected France’s favorite village because it is so beautiful, situated within gorgeous landscape, and it is rich in history. It is so close to Albi that you could visit both in one day and see very different places within a short time. Should you see it or should you skip it? It has its disadvantages (STEEP hills!) but we give you ways to work around those. Enjoy the show!

Subscribe to the Show
iTunes | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

To Prepare for Your Trip: Tales from the Hilltop: a summer in the other South of France (Free right now on Kindle Unlimited).

  • [1:19] French Tip of the Week: how do you pronounce the name “Manon” in French? Examples: oncologie, le LubĂ©ron, Ontario, le baron, la Gironde.
  • [4:20] What’s the secret to making good soup?
  • [5:20] The new Exhibition at the Orsay Museum on depictions of prostitution in paintings.
  • [10:00] New Exhibit at the Grand Palais Picassomania, on Picasso and his legacy. If you want to get in you should get your tickets in advance.
  • [13:00] Discussion on Cordes-sur-Ciel.
  • The name Cordes-sur-Ciel is new, based on a work by a poet who  renamed it in 1993. The name Cordes is much older because this village was created in 1222. Today it is in the Tarn department.
  • Cordes was a heavily Cathar town in the Middle Ages. Cordes was on the northern edge of the territory that belonged to the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VIII.
  • Cordes was a charted town (a “Bastide”) where the people knew they would be protected (walled city), where they’d get tax rebates, every resident would be treated equally, the residents would be protected by his armies if needed. Raymond VII had the trust of the people, so he got a lot of people to go colonize this new area.
  • Why is Cordes named Cordes? Because of Cordoba in Spain which was a capital of textiles and leather work. Within the space of 30 years the town was so successful that they had to expand the wall 5 times!
  • Cordes is a steep town, walking all the way up is a bit of a hike. May 1st thru Sept 30th for 3€ you can take the tourist train at Place de la Bouteillerie and be dropped off at Porte de la Jane.
  • There are 32,000 villages in France. We’re not sure what the official definition is according to the INSEE, but that’s a lot of places for a small country. What makes a village special is its architecture, the site where it’s built, and its history. Cordes gets an A on all of these!
  • Cordes has the most civilian Gothic architecture in France. By 1250 it was the richest town in the south-west of France besides Toulouse.  The people of Cordes threw the Inquisitors down the well because they didn’t want to put up with it.
  • [36:30] The story of the water well in Cordes.
  • The bird business “ormeau” is NOT a bird or a tree, it’s a sea shell. The name “place de l’Ormeau” has to do with Saint Jacques de Compostelle!!! Elyse is embarrassed and Annie shall tease her about that for a long time 😉
  • [53:00] How long should you plan to stay in Cordes?
  • French people are not very tough about visiting places like Cordes when it’s raining, so if you go on a rainy day you’ll be mostly alone.
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel does not have a big cathedral, but the church it has is worth visiting.
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel est steep, it’s possible that in the Middle Ages they used mules a lot. You may want to even today!
  • Elyse recommends visiting Albi and Cordes in the same day. You have time for both.
  • To hire Elyse to give you a tour, look her up on Facebook: Toulouse Guided Walks.


Cordes sur ciel seen from Grain de Sel photo Adrien BĂ©ronuntitled
Cordes sur ciel seen from Grain de Sel photo Adrien BĂ©ronuntitled

Louis XIV Miraculous Child, Episode 87

Louis XIV as a child unknown painter
Louis XIV as a child Artist Unknown

On today’s show Elyse and Annie visit a difficult time in French history: the long-awaited birth of Louis XIV Miraculous Child. The intrigue was complex and succulent and it involved three  of the most powerful figures ever in France: Anne of Austria, Louis XIII, and the Cardinal Richelieu. You may remember some of those intrigues if you have read the Three Musketeers (Free on Amazon today) by Alexandre Dumas  or seen one of the many movies inspired by it.The story has fascinated people for centuries and we recap it all today.

The other main subject we talk about is life in France for regular French people at the time of Louis XIV and how extreme poverty prevailed for much of the population. The King and Clergy didn’t believe poverty was their problem in any way and their callousness set in motion the conditions that made the French Revolution possible 150 years later.

Subscribe to the Show
iTunes | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

Louis XIV Miraculous Child, Episode Summary

  • Louis XIV was born in September 1638. They named him Louis DieudonnĂ© because his parents had been unable to have children for 23 years before they had him.
  • The vital importance of producing an heir to the throne.
  • Anne of Austria’s terrible relationship with her husband’s Prime Minister, the Cardinal Richelieu.
  • Marital difficulties between Anne of Austria and Louis XIII.
  • The incompatible personalities of Anne of Austria and Louis XIII.
  • Infertility issues in the Royal Couple.
  • Anne of Austria gets accused of treason for talking to her brother the King of Spain.
  • How Cardinal Richelieu had spies everywhere and used them to trap Anne of Austria.
  • Anne of Austria miscarried because she was running around in the Louvre.
  • The troubled relationship between Cardinal Richelieu and the Duc d’OrlĂ©ans, Louis XIII’s brother.
  • How the Duc d’OrlĂ©ans conspired against his brother Louis XII.
  • The Duc d’OrlĂ©ans and Duc de Montmorency’s death in Toulouse.
  • Anne of Austria is forced to write a confession letter.
  •  Richelieu decides it’s in interest to keep the Queen and the King together and keep trying for an heir.
  • The circumstances surrounding the conception of Louis XIV (Saint-Maur is a little west of Paris).
  • Louis XIV was conceived because of bad weather.
  • The King and the Queen “forced” to spend the night together.
  • Monks all over Paris are asked to pray for an heir on the night of Louis XIV’s conception.
  • The unlikely pregnancy proves that God favors the French.
  • What it was like to give birth for Anne of Austria.
  • Was Louis XIV really his father’s son or was Anne of Austria unfaithful?
  • The Palace Cardinal Richelieu built for himself in Paris is the French Academy today.
  • Louis XIV’s upbringing, what do kings learn in school?
  • We end the show by talking at length about life in France under Louis XIV: Taxes, Weather, Lack of Sanitation, Diseases and Bad Doctors, Illiteracy. Those disastrous circumstances made it possible for the French Revolution to take hold in people’s hearts 150 years later more or less.
  • “Gare Ă  l’eau” meant watch out for the “water” which was really sewage being thrown out of windows.
  • It is hard to understand today how sanitary conditions got worse between the 600s and 1800s.
  • Life in France was so unsanitary that it is said that’s one of the reasons why the perfume industry started in France.
  • Louis XIII is the one who launched the idea of having a real  chĂąteau in Versailles. That’s where he liked to hunt so he wanted to turn his hunting lodge into a proper chĂąteau with a chapel.
Louis XIV as a Child portrayed as God Jupiter
Louis XIV as a Child portrayed as God Jupiter



Looking for Unique Experiences in France, Episode 86

Looking for Unique Experiences in France
Janice at the Marathon du MĂ©doc with the Flash Gordon runners

Janice is a retired (How is that even possible? Look at her!) Elementary School Principal who has a passion for France and has visited so many times I declare her to be an honorary local. When she’s not driving around France she’s working on her second passion, a travel website called France Travel Tips. In this episode we talk about the many unique experiences she’s had in France and some of the great tips she can share with us to help us have a better time in France AND save some money along the way!

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

Places Mentioned on the Show: Pauillac, Marathon du MĂ©doc, Marathon de Paris, Gordes, École des Trois Ponts in Riorges, the restaurant Troigros in Roanne, Music at the Sainte Chapelle, Music at Église Saint Germain des PrĂšs , Patricia Kaas concert Nancy, Olympia Concert Hall in Paris, Saint Malo, Biarritz, Saint SĂ©bastien, Saint Jean de Luz, Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne, Provence, restaurant La Truie qui Doute in Anduze, Saint Antonin Noble Val, Eiffel Tower, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Collias, Pont du Gard, Inisttut du Monde Arabe
Support the show on Patreon.

RSS | iTunes | Android | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

Janice Tells Us About Her Two Marathon in France

  • Marathon du MĂ©doc (see photo above with the Flash Gordon runners)
  • Marathon de Paris

The MĂ©doc and Paris Marathons are very different, Janice explains what she liked in both. To run a marathon in France you need to get a doctor’s certificate that will state that you are fit enough to participate.

Studying French at the École des Trois Ponts in Riorges where she particularly enjoyed the informal conversations and the cooking classes.

Making Macarons at the Cordon Bleu with a teacher who only speaks French (translator provided) and helps the students make their own.

Janice also loves Angelina’s Hot Chocolate on rue de Rivoli, it’s topped with whipped cream, but it’s OK because she runs marathons the rest of the time!

Listening to Music in Paris at the Sainte Chapelle where she heard the Four Seasons. You can see the beautiful stained glass and hear approachable music at the same time. Janice also attended a concert at the Église Saint Germain des Prùs. To find more concerts in France go to a FNAC store or the ticket office at any large grocery store.

Side note on how Casinos in France have strict entry rules. You need ID to enter and Annie explains why.

Janice goes through a typical day for her in France. She likes to rent a Gßte from Gßtes de France or HomeAway, she likes to go to the market in the morning, go to a café, go visit a town and explore, take some photos, go to a restaurant, enjoy some wine (a pichet of wine).  We explain how restaurants often do not want to substitute anything for the wine that comes with the meal.

Driving in France: Janice got two speeding tickets on her last trip from radars, once for going 7 over the speed limit. Annie got one for going 3 over the speed limit! Don’t speed in France! Also, how do you pay for a parking ticket in France? Janice explains because she had to do it! Use cruise control so you do not go over the speed limit and you’ll be fine.

Spending New Year’s Eve in Paris and a typical meal for Holidays in France. The Eiffel Tower is blocked off but you can have a spectacular view of the light show from the bridge called Pont de Bir-Hakeim. Another Paris tip: you can get a great view onto Notre Dame and the Seine Lookingfrom the Institut du Monde Arabe.  Going to the top is free!


Sharing the Best of France