Category Archives: Episode w/ Elyse

Mont Saint Michel History, Episode 175

Mont Saint Michel History


If you’re wondering some of the things you might need to know about Mont Saint Michel history before visiting Normandy, you’ve come to the right place!

Licensed Tour Guide Elyse shares with us some of the highlights that will help it all make sense. And they will also help you look around with a different eye. Did you know that the Monastery on top of Mont Saint Michel was a prison for 200 years? Did you know that the Mont wasn’t always an island? It’s all in today’s episode!

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

Other Episodes About Mont Saint-Michel

Red half-timbered house on the Mont Saint-Michel; Mont Saint Michel History
Photo Phil Roberson

Episode Highlights with time stamps

[02:00] Phil Roberson visited the Mont Saint Michel in September 2017. He took the train between Paris and Rennes and then rented a car to get to the Mont Saint Michel.

The Mont Saint-Michel Gest 2.5 Million Visitors Per Year

[02:45] Elyse will be answering the question “Why go to the Mont Saint Michel?” One reason is that it is the 3rd most visited cultural site in France after the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. It is extremely popular. The first tourists started going there in the 19th century. It became a historical monument in 1874.

Where Is the Mont Saint-Michel?

[04:00] It is in the southern part of Normandy and right at the border between Normandy and Brittany. There has been a historical debate as to which region it belongs to. It’s about 1.5 hours from Bayeux.

The Mont Saint Michel Was Not Always an Island

[05:45] The top of the rock is 92 meters high. We think there used to be a pagan site on the Mont. They used holes in the rock to place religious artifacts. It used to be called Mont Tombe which means elevated mound (and not “grave” as one might think).

High Places Used as Religious Sanctuaries

[08:00] We know from several places in France that high places were often used as pre-Christians religious sanctuaries. When Normandy became Christianized they also setup the area as a religious sacred site. It is not a burial site because it is solid granite, but they placed objects there.

Hermits Lived on Mont Saint Michel Long Before the Monastery

[0940] Places like that were also used by hermits as a refuge from the world. One of these hermits created a shrine to Saint Etienne (Saint Stephen) half-way up the rock. And another one of these hermit shrines was placed at the base of the rock. The area was surrounded by forest at the time. By the 6th Century, Christianity and the Francs had taken over and that’s when it first became a monastery. Vikings were next, arriving from the Seine River.

Norsemen Became Normans

[14:10] In the 700s King Rollon promised to protect the rock which allowed the monks to start building the precursor to the Monastery. Saint Michael is a popular Saint at the time and Charlemagne wants to dedicate the rock to him. That’s when it becomes called Mont Saint-Michel. The early name was “Mont Saint-Michel in the Peril of the Sea”.

Legend About When Mont Saint Michel Became an Island in the Year 709

[18:30] Elyse tells the story of the natural disaster that turned Mont Saint Michel into an island supposedly over-night, but it most likely happened over a long time. It’s more likely that the land eroded slowly. They built the first church on the Mont late 8th century under the Bishop of Avranches. That is why Normandy has more of a claim on the Mont Saint-Michel than Brittany does.

The Mont Saint Michel as a Major Center of Learning

[22:15] The Monks at Mont Saint-Michel became the center of intellectual development in Western Europe and are the first to translate Aristotle from Greek into Latin. Between the 11th and 14th Century Mont Saint Michel is a major center of learning.

The Benedictines Take Over

[24:00] The Brothers fell away from austere religious life and Benedictines came to take over. On the site where the Monastery stands today there used to be a pre-Romanesque church. What we see today is late Romanesque / early Gothic.

Because of the work of the Benedictines, the Mont became an important pilgrimage site. When you visit you’ll see two Saint Michel statues, one from late 1500s and the other from the end of the 19th century when they did some renovations.

The Abbey Is Turned into a Prison

[27:40] By the 17th century, most of the brothers have left because of wars between England and France as well as the wars of religion. The brothers leave starting in the 16th century and eventually it gets turned into a prison. It was a Royal Prison.

Before the French Revolution it had turned into a prison for men, women and even children. They were turned into indentured servants. This lasted over 200 years. They called it “Bastille de la mer” because it was such a horrible prison.

[30:00] In 1810 there were over 1000 prisoners there. Victor Hugo wrote about it. Over time there were 14,000 prisoners at this jail.  The jail closed in 1863.

The Mont Saint Michel Becomes a Historical Monument in 1874

An elderly Violet-le-Duc starts the renovation of the Mont Saint Michel with the help of two students. What we see today is neo Romanesque because of the way Violet-le-Duc renovated things. He liked pointy roofs.

Modern Tourism Started at the Mont Saint Michel in 1880

[31:40] Mont Saint Michel was famous because of the pilgrimage and the outrage of the prison and 100,000 come see it that year. It was a great way to rebuild a fresh image for this ancient site. Pilgrims start coming back too at that time also. The big boom of tourism in the area started after WWII.

What Attracts the Pilgrims to the Mont Saint Michel

[32:30] What do pilgrims go to see there?  They have a relic of a rock that contains a footprint from Saint Michael and and some cloth. It’s hard to believe The Monks there now are from the Order of Jerusalem. But the biggest draw for people to this day is that it’s so spectacular. It is beautiful both from a distance and from inside.

To Be Continued in Episode 176 Next Week

[37:00] To prevent this episode from going too long, you’ll get the rest of our conversation next week!

Annie’s Personal Update

[38:15] Thank You Patreon supporters!

Questions for this week: what can I do to make the show better in 2018? What do you think about the video teasers?

French Tip of the Week

[44:50] Est-ce qu’il va pleuvoir demain ?

Support the show on Patreon.


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Mont Saint Michel history, medieval door to enter the city
Photo Phil Roberson

Conclusion

Now that you know a few important things about Mont Saint Michel history you’ll probably get a lot more out of the time you spend there.  But no matter how much you learn about history, the real reason why people go is that it’s so beautiful both up-close and at a distance. It’s a photographer’s paradise!

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving, Episode 172

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving


Today we talk about traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving. By that we mean recipes you can use to bring a little bit of France into your own family traditions, although you will hear in the episode that Annie and Elyse don’t quite agree on what that means.

We don’t talk about “French cut green beans” (which are NOT a thing in France!) but rather talk about all the traditional French foods that would fit in well on your Thanksgiving table. Sometimes putting together a Thanksgiving Feast in France requires a some creativity, but Annie and Elyse do it with good humor. 

Whether or not there is room on your Thanksgiving table for new dishes imported from France, we hope you have fun listening to this episode and have a wonderful celebration with your friends and family! And remember: you should try some traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving!

Leave a Voice Mail for the Show: 1-801-806-1015

The Extra for email subscribers this week is a classic French recipe card. This is going to be a tested recipe with measurements in both metric and Imperial so you can hit it out of the park the first time you make it.

If you’re interested in this episode, don’t miss Table Manners in France, Episode 93.

Recommended in this episode

Balsamic Glaze, Foie GrasRoasted ChestnutsTapenadePitted PrunesTruffles, Macarons

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

 Roasted Chestnuts; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Episode Highlights with time stamps

Typical French Salads that Work Great for Thanksgiving

[08:25] Salade de chèvre chaud. This is a green salad with grilled goat cheese toast on top. To make this recipe, Annie uses a balsamic glaze to decorate the plate first. The goat cheese we mention is pictured below. You don’t have to get that brand, but this one works well. I am quite sure I have seen this food item in America at the better grocery stores such as Target.

[12:20] Salade de foie gras. You can get foie gras on Amazon, serve on a bed of lettuce with some lightly toasted white bread.

[14:40] Endive salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese. Use the white chicory to make this.

French Soups for Thanksgiving

[17:00] Sweet Potato Ginger Soup. In France we can get a variety of sweet potatoes now as well as butternut squash and “potimaron”. You can get acorn squash in France so far.

[19:54] French Onion Soup. The secret is a bit of brandy or marsala wine.

[26:06] Soupe Auvergnate aux Chataîgnes. This is made with roasted chestnuts and if you’re looking for new yet satisfying flavors, you will love it.

French Side Dishes You Can Make for Thanksgiving

Gratin Dauphinois or Potatoes au Gratin. This one is made mostly of butter, cream and a little bit of cheese, plus sliced potatoes, of course. I recommend you serve that in individual dishes. It is better for portion control.

[27:44] Tapenade is another very French side dish you could serve as a nibble on toast. It is very salty, but if you want to bring a little bit of Provence sunshine into your celebrations, tapenade might be the ticket for you!

[28:19] Oysters on the half shell. Extremely typical of French festive foods. Oysters are the perfect food: tasty, low-calorie, nothing but protein. Of all the foods we’ve suggested so far, oysters are the healthiest. in France we serve this as a fist course.

[29:05] Pruneaux au lard. Pitted prunes wrapped with bacon. This is typical of the South West of France where Annie is from. If you start adding that to your traditional french thanksgiving recipes roster, people will ask you to make it again and again. The only trick is don’t cook the bacon so much that you can’t wrap it around the prune!

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving that Work for Vegetarians / Vegans

[29:44] Œuf en cocotte. Would work for vegetarian guests, not vegan. Delicious with small amounts of truffles.

[33:05]  Vegan Stuffing with Chestnuts. This is often done for Christmas, but it would work well for Thanksgiving. Dried bread, chopped up, a can of roasted peeled chestnuts, chopped up apricots. No eggs or meat, cooked inside the turkey, but you could bake it outside of the turkey.

French People Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving

[34:45] Buying whole turkeys in France for Thanksgiving is impossible unless you go to a butcher. You can only find turkey parts until Christmas. And you won’t find the nice round Thanksgiving turkey.

[36:32] Another very French thing you could do without too much effort is to go get some fabulous bread to accompany your  Thanksgiving feast. Walnut bread, fig bread, focaccia bread, olive bread.

Traditional French Desserts You Can Use for Thanksgiving

[37:06] A typical French dessert is Clafoutis, and this is something you can make in advance. It’s a lighter dessert.

[38:10] Pear Cake with Black Pepper

[39:00] With French-Style Apple Tart you have to slice your apples evenly an

[40:00] Tarte Tatin is very French, but it’s more difficult to make at home, but so delicious with ice-cream!

[41:00] Here’s something easy: to bring some traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving wherever you live, buy some macarons. The ones from Costco as pretty good. You don’t have to tell them they are store-bought! The great thing about macarons is that they are light, will go down easy at the end of a big meal, and everyone wants to try them.

[42:30] Make Walnut Pie instead of Pecan Pie.

[42:00] No pumpkin pies in France!

[43:00] Serve a cheese platter at the end of your meal with some fruit. For important meals in France we serve both a cheese platter at the end of the meal and desserts! Note that we never serve a cheese platter as an appetizer in France. We may have cheese nibbles, but the platter is for the end of the meal.

Conclusion

So, will you do it? Will you include traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving? We think you should because it’s fun to bring a new twist to same-old, same-old. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration listeners!

Thanksgiving Table on a White Theme; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

In France This Week

[48:47] Link to reserve a ticket for Dame de Coeur November 8, 9, 10 and 11.

[51:16] No Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées this year. I did an episode about it last year Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées. The city of Paris wants to go towards a classier Christmas Market going forward. In the meantime, you will be able to enjoy other Christmas Markets in Paris in 2017.

French Tip of the Week

[56:00] “une bonne journée”

Historical Tidbit

[57:30] How the people of Paris ate in the Middle Ages.

Voice Mail Feedback on Pickpockets in Paris

[61:30] John Murray tells us what happened to him in the Paris metro.

Support the show on Patreon.


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French-Style Home-Made Apple Pie; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Good Reasons to Take a Tour, Episode 169

Good Reasons to Take a Tour

Trying to decide if you should tour Paris with a group or DIY? We give you lots of things to think about so you can get to the right conclusion for you! We make a lot of promises to our customers and we deliver too! Please take a moment to read our reviews on Trip Advisor and consider joining us in France!

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

When Is It Best to take a Tour?

[00:45] In today’s show, Elyse and Annie discuss the advantages of taking a tour vs. DIY. Normally, Join Us in France is all about helping you DIY your trip to France, but today, let’s talk about why DIY isn’t for everybody.

New Segment: A Bite of French History and Culture

[01:02] Introducing a new segment to the show today called A Bite of French History and Culture

The Extra: Scam in Progress

[01:12] The Extra content for email subscribers this week is called Scam in Progress. While leading the October 2017 Paris Tour I ran into a swarm of petition scammers. I had my camera in hand ready for street photography, so I pushed the shutter and got lucky. One of the scammer got in my face about the photo, I invited her to call the police, which of course she wasn’t going to do, and we ended up having a good laugh about it. But to the folks on the tour with me, they didn’t know what was happening at first.  You need to learn to recognize a scam when you see it because they’re all about the same and once you know you’ll never fall prey. I’ll be sending out this extra, complete with the photos, next Sat to email subscribers. If you’re interested in getting the extras, you can sign up right from your phone, read the words that are displayed by your podcast App, or go to Join Us in France.com and look for the Subscribe button.

We’re a Cool Tour Company!

[03:00] You’ve heard me say that Join Us in France is sponsored Patreon and Addicted to France, the tour company that specializes in small group tours in France. Well, right now let us brag about the tour company because it’s pretty cool!

Organizing a Visit to Paris Is NOT Easy

Even if you listen to every episode of the podcast, organizing a visit to Paris isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time to plan, you’ll be unsure about a lot of details and you’ll end up making silly mistakes that we won’t make. Not because we’re geniuses, but because we’ve made those same mistakes before!!!

Elyse and Annie Bring Different Strengths

[03:52} Elyse and I have different strengths. She’s amazing when it comes to art, she’ll show you things you’ve never ever thought of because it takes 30 years of teaching this stuff and incessant curiosity about art history to know this much.

Annie is great at telling the stories, sometimes literary, sometimes long-forgotten anecdotes that were immortalized in paintings and novels. So much has happened in Paris that it doesn’t take a lot of digging to find incredible stories.

Some of the stories are high-brow, some rather lurid, all are entertaining. And French politics, especially when talking about the French RevolutionSSS—yes, there were really 4 of them!—once you start reading, that stuff will keep you up at night. And if you think American politics are crazy, wait until you hear about French politics!

  1. 1789-1799 French Revolution
  2. July Revolution
  3. 1948 Revolution
  4. La Commune (Montmartre, Les Misérables)

You’ll Enjoy It More if You’re Not Exhausted All the Time!

[06:14] Visiting a city and being on our feet for 12 hours a day is not something most of us are used to, and when it’s a city you don’t know, you might walk around in circles and miss all the best stuff just because you can’t take it anymore. What if there is someone telling you, it’s just around the corner, I’ll take you right to it! Then you won’t miss it.

As a newbie, you might also go on all sorts of wild goose chases that won’t enhance the experience much. Travel bloggers have a strange habit of making a big deal out of things that don’t matter that much. Let Elyse and I curate the best for you. We can see what visitors get the most kick out of, we know the right time to go places so the lines are the smallest possible, we will get you to skip the line wherever possible.

But, sadly, there’s always the security lines and we can’t get you to skip those. We’re both a little bit lazy, we look for the easiest and shortest way to everywhere we take you too. You’ll still get lots of steps in no matter what, but we’ll stop before it stops being fun!  Venturing out with a local guide is so much easier and safer than venturing out on your own!

Paris Is Full of New Stimulations

[09:18] Daily life puts us in a rut. Not matter how much we love our lives, after a few months of doing all the same things, we get bored with it. Going to Paris, even for us who live in France but not in Paris, is such a joy! Paris is special. It’s beautiful, it’s relaxing, there are new adventures everywhere you look.

When You Tour of Addicted to France You Get a Photographer

[10:33] I can guarantee that you’ll go home with your head full of memories of wonderful new experiences and you’ll be ready to take on the world again. And, a little plus, and this is something the folks on the last tour asked me to insist on because they enjoyed it so much, when you’re touring with Annie, you’re touring with a photographer who carries around great equipment and can get a good photo in most environments.

I will document every step and send you the pictures. I am a shutter bug no matter what, and by now I know most of the best photo spots in Paris. So, there’s the photography plus too. At the end you’ll have a book of photos that will document the entire tour.

Tour France with Friends!

12:20 I’m pretty sure you like France, even if you’ve never been, otherwise you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast right now. Maybe be love France and you’ve been here already. If you’re a long-time listener, you like our style or you wouldn’t be here. We haven’t met you yet, but we’re pretty sure if you like us, we’re going to like you too. So why don’t you come to France and tour with friends?

We’re pretty good at taking care of our friends and we’d love to meet you. We didn’t mention the great food and wine yet, we’re keeping the big guns for the end. And you know what? We know a lot of good restaurants in Paris. We’re always looking for great value for money because it’s probably what you like to find too.

Good Reasons to Take a Tour, Opera Garnier seen from the top of the Galleries Lafayettes
Opéra Garnier seen from the top of the Galleries Lafayettes

We Know Great Restaurants and Superb Shopping Opportunities

[13:17] We haven’t kept the names of our favorite restaurants a secret, as a matter of fact if you follow the podcast on Facebook, we’ve often recommended our favorite restaurants. But we’ll make the reservations and take you there.

Want some lovely scarves? We’ve got a place. Clothes shopping? Elyse knows the great spots. I dare say we’ll help you feel like you belong with us and you instantly belong in France.

SMALL Is the Name of the Game with Us!

When you go on a tour with Addicted to France you will not say: I am so glad I went on a bus tour with my closest 50 friends and a guide that carries an umbrella! Look, what makes people happy is experiences and human rapport.

And with Annie and Elyse you’re experiencing Paris with friends. Sure, together we’ll see the art, the architecture, you’ll see all the famous sites, but we’ll also share stories, we’ll get to know each other and probably make life-long connections.

Great food, great wine, great company. We think you need this!

How to Reserve Your Spot on Our Tours

Did we convince you that there are good reasons to take a tour? Now check out the details!

[17:00] And to see the details of these marvelous tours we’ve been bragging about visit Addicted to France.com, you can reserve your spot on the May 27th thru June 3rd Paris Tour with a 250€ deposit, refundable at any time for any reason up until a month before it is set to begin.

For this particular tour we’re also offering 3 add-ons:

  1. A 1 day excursion to Giverny that we talked about in episode 167
  2. Another day trip to Versailles to tour the King’s Private Apartments, and I just did that, it is SOOOO worth it!,
  3. And 3 days in Normandy which will include time on June 6th to see the commemorations on D-Day. The details for that excursion are not on the site yet, but I have several people asking about that and they will be made public by next week, please check back.

Thank You

[18:00] Thank you Karen White for tipping your guide by clicking on the Tip Your Guide button on the left side of this site.  Your donation lets me know that I bring valuable information to you and that you want to give back.

Thank you also to the all the patrons who support the show month after month, I want you to know how much I appreciate your continued support. To support the show, go to Patreon. Lunch-Break French is going to go out late this month of October 2017, but it’s coming!

There are other ways you can support the show, to see them neatly listed, visit this area of the site.

And as we approach the holiday season and you will be making Christmas purchases, I appreciate all of you who go to Amazon through Join Us in France. If you don’t know how to do that, look for the Amazon logo on the left. Click on that, it will take you to your Amazon store, and the show gets a small commission for any purchase you make. Lots of people intend to do that, but then they forget, so I’m reminding you and thank you!

Annie’s Personal Update

[19:00] I am going to do NaNoWriMo in November because I need to get serious with writing. I’ve learned so much doing the podcast the last 3 and a half years, I need to complete a book that will summarize the best of Join Us in France. I’ve started many times, I have had a hard time completing the book. So, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo too, reach out to me and we’ll encourage one another! annie@joinusinfrance.com

[20:32] T-Shirt designs

[21:08] Use the phone number 1-801-806-1015 hotel or AirB&B or restaurant that you enjoyed in France.

A Bite of French History

The first-time large numbers of French people were called to the polls to elect their President was in 1848. Not everybody voted, only males for a start, not military, not clergy, not French people who lived abroad, but you know, it was more a more inclusive vote than we had ever had.

On that glorious day of December 1848 where French people got to vote in large number for the first time, who did they elect??? This is not something I was aware of myself until I started to read about the French Revolution in the last few months. But when I realized it, it took my breath away, and I decided that I really need to start sharing some of these golden nuggets of French history with you in its own regular segment each week.

So, let’s review: France went through hell during the French Revolution 1789-1799. The whole idea was to give power to the people, and this first “general” election takes place 50 years AFTER the Revolution.  So, again, I ask you. Who did they elect? Take a wild guess.

Well, a man called Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte won. And not just a little. He won by a lot. He is also known as Napoleon III, one of the many nephews of the original Napoleon I, a man of great ambition who as soon as he was elected made sure he’d be President for life, which means he had to usher in another Empire, now called the Third Empire.

So, give men the vote and they’ll pick charismatic royalty instead of a regular guy. Was it really worth fighting the awful Revolution to get to that result? I think not, but that could just be me.  In the defense of Parisians, it was country folks who voted for Napoleon III in the greatest numbers. They didn’t know the others and he felt like a known quantity.

So, if you’re in the mood to despair about politics in your own country, remember this, the French actually voted in Napoleon III of their own free will in 1848. Popular vote can equal stupid choices.

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Good Reasons to Take a Tour, Visitors in Versailles

 

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