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)
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.
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.
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.
Seeing 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!
Help your friends out by telling them about this site!
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.
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
In 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.
Discrimination 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
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: