[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join us in France, episode 396. Trois cent quatre-vingt-seize.
[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, art and news related to travel to France.
[00:00:39] What’s in this episode
[00:00:39] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about the amazing Rosa Bonheur, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of her birth in Bordeaux.
[00:00:52] Annie Sargent: The painting that made her famous The Horse Fair is at The Met in New York. A reduced version of it is at the National Gallery in London. The Met also has an emotional piece of hers called, Weaning of the Calves. Another iconic piece of hers, Plowing in the Nivernais is at the Orsay Museum.
[00:01:14] Several of her pieces are at the Aberdeen Art Museum, another at the National Gallery of Ireland. Now that you’ve heard about her, you’ll see her work in world-class museums everywhere, because she was really prolific. I’ll post photos of her work on my Instagram account this week, it’s @addictedtofrance.
[00:01:35] Annie Sargent: Personally, I love her work and her life was fascinating as well, as you’ll see in this episode.
[00:01:41] Annie Sargent: After my chat with Elyse, I’ll address a travel question that came up this week on the Join Us in France Facebook group: What can you do to keep your stuff safe in your car if you stop to visit something when you’re in-between hotels? A very good question, indeed.
[00:01:59] Who supports the podcast
[00:01:59] This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my itinerary consult service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at Annie’s boutique, JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique.
[00:02:19] Annie Sargent: I am not quite caught up with all the emails about the France bootcamp that will take place between May 21st and May 27th 2023, next year, but I’m getting there.
[00:02:31] Lots of you now start your emails to me with I know you’re busy and don’t worry about responding to this, but I just want you to know that, and dot dot whatever. I have the best listeners. Thank you for being patient with me. And if you want to get my infrequent email updates, sign up at JoinUsinFrance.com/newsletter.
[00:03:01] Main interview
[00:03:01] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse.
[00:03:02] Elyse Rivin: Bonjour Annie.
[00:03:03] Annie Sargent: We have a fun conversation today about Rosa Bonheur.
[00:03:09] Elyse Rivin: Bonheur.
[00:03:10] Annie Sargent: Bonheur.
[00:03:10] Annie Sargent: A happy chat about a lovely person, a wonderful artist, and we’ll learn all about it. And a place that you can visit near Paris, Thomery is the name of the place where her chateau is, and you can visit it.
[00:03:25] Annie Sargent: Now, I’m not going to give you lots of details about that because it changes all the time, but I do know that you can go on public transportation if you wish, or you could take an Uber or whatever, and they are making great efforts to welcome the public and all of that. There’s a Facebook group. Anyway, I’ll link to those things, if you want to find out, you can do it fairly easily.
[00:03:44] Annie Sargent: Anyway, let’s talk about Rosa Bonheur.
[00:03:48] Who was Rosa Bonheur?
[00:03:48] Annie Sargent: Shall we start with her childhood?
[00:03:50] Elyse Rivin: Maybe, just maybe, some people don’t even know who she was.
[00:03:54] Annie Sargent: That’s true!
[00:03:55] So, before you start telling everybody, including me, the details of her childhood, just so that people know, Rosa Bonheur was a painter and she did some sculpture too, and she lived most of the 19th century. She was born in 1822 and died in 1899 and she was a very successful artist and her specialty was…
[00:04:23] Annie Sargent: Animals.
[00:04:24] Elyse Rivin: That’s why Annie loves her so much.
[00:04:26] Annie Sargent: Yes. She painted animals and she was really good at it. Like, wow. Stunning. It’s like hyper-realist or something. I don’t know what you call it.
[00:04:37] Annie Sargent: It’s exactly what you call it.
[00:04:38] Rosa Bonheur’s parents
[00:04:38] Annie Sargent: Okay. There you go. Huh! I got one thing right. So, so she was really, really, very impressive.
[00:04:46] Annie Sargent: So, as you said, she was born on March 16th, 1822 in Bordeaux, in the Southwest of France. Her mother was called Sophie. She was an orphan, and she was adopted by a well off merchant. You know, one of these well off merchants that semi nobility, they live in a mansion type of house and they have servants and all of that? That sort of wealthy merchant.
[00:05:11] So she was adopted by this man when she was four or five, because she had lost her mother, and much later, on this guy’s death bed she found out that he was actually her father. He had impregnated the mother and felt terrible about that and sent her away. As a matter of fact, Sophie was born, I think she was born in Germany and lived in Germany some of the time. Anyway, so that’s the mother.
[00:05:42] Art education in the family
[00:05:42] Annie Sargent: This man who raised her mother, wanted his children to learn all sorts of things, including the arts and the piano, and he hired a artist to teach them painting skills, I guess. And this artist was Raymond Bonheur.
[00:06:05] Annie Sargent: And he was only a year older than the young daughter. And they were both beautiful young people and, you know, looking for love. And there you go.
[00:06:15] Elyse Rivin: And there you go. I can’t imagine that the father didn’t suspect something like that would happen.
[00:06:21] Annie Sargent: Yes, he was a bit dumb. Sophie also had piano lessons and was an accomplished pianist.
[00:06:29] Annie Sargent: As a matter of fact, later on in life, she sometimes supplemented her husband’s income by teaching piano lessons. Okay.
[00:06:39] Rosa’s father
[00:06:39] Annie Sargent: The father, Rosa Bonheur’s father was a painter and art teacher. Now, he was much more successful as an art teacher than he was as a painter, but he did both and he definitely aspired to be recognized, you know, famous painter.
[00:06:56] Annie Sargent: It just didn’t quite work out that way. He taught painting and the arts to all of his children, including Rosa.
[00:07:03] Rosa’s childhood
[00:07:03] Annie Sargent: And there’s this cute story about Rosa when she was little, she was not particularly good at academic type of learning. So she had difficulties learning her ABCs.
[00:07:15] Annie Sargent: Okay? And her mother decided that maybe she could interest her in the ABCs by getting her to draw all the letters and including animals inside of the letters. Turning letters into, you know, like, like they do on Sesame Street, you know, and it worked. Pretty soon she knew her ABCs because she was drawing them really carefully with animal faces and shapes and things.
[00:07:42] Elyse Rivin: Like Z for Zebra?
[00:07:44] Annie Sargent: Like that!
[00:07:46] Elyse Rivin: Thank you, Annie!
[00:07:48] And apparently, she was the sort of child who was always drawing, and obviously there were lots of art supplies at their house, since her father was an artist and an art teacher. So, you know, it was always something that she was drawn to.
[00:08:03] Her artistic environment
[00:08:03] Annie Sargent: And Raymond, so her father, was related to the Cambacéres family in Toulouse. And they were famous for helping craft the Civil Code under Napoleon.
[00:08:17] Annie Sargent: So, it was a family, not a rich family, but a family that was very respectable and they did well most of their lives.
[00:08:28] Elyse Rivin: One of the things I had read about the father was that he actually met, I don’t know if he was good friends with, but he had met the very famous Spanish painter Francisco Goya, who was at the time in exile in Bordeaux. And so it is possible that even Rosa, as a small child, met him.
[00:08:50] Annie Sargent: That’s possible, yep.
[00:08:50] Elyse Rivin: And she really was, as you say, really surrounded by a very rich artistic environment.
[00:08:58] Annie Sargent: Right. Right.
[00:08:59] Father’s ambitions
[00:08:59] Annie Sargent: So her father wanted to be, he wanted to go up in the world. He wanted to be recognized for his work and he was always seeking out the betterment of humanity. He was a bit of an illuminated kind of guy, and he was very eager to follow philosophies, political current, religious currents, that would lead to the betterment of humanity as he saw it. And so he was influenced by a religious slash political movement called Saint-Simonisme, which is kind of a French thing.
[00:09:35] Annie Sargent: But the idea was to stop wars, to stop class warfare and to bring everybody up, raise everybody up,and be modern and give progress, give women a chance, equality, that sort of ambition in life. And of course, this is the early 1800s, and even though the French Revolution had already happened, we were not anywhere near there because Napoleon also happened.
[00:10:02] Elyse Rivin: Yes, yes. One happened and then very soon, unfortunately, afterwards the other happened.
[00:10:07] Family moves to Paris
[00:10:07] Annie Sargent: Yes. So Raymond moved the family to Paris because he was hoping to get some of his pieces accepted in the Salon.
[00:10:17] What was the ‘Salon’?
[00:10:17] Annie Sargent: Now, I would like you to explain what the Salon is, because that’s right up your alley.
[00:10:21] Elyse Rivin: Okay. So, in fact, up through into the end of the 19th century, to have your work shown, you had to be admitted by a jury into what were called, the official Salon. Salon as in salon you’re in your house, which basically is living room, except that it was not definitely a living room.
[00:10:39] Elyse Rivin: And these were sponsored basically by jury that was chosen by the French government. So this was very, very official. And every year, there was a big Salon in Paris. And hundreds and hundreds of artists would submit their works and they never knew if their work would be accepted. And once the works were accepted, there were prizes. There was the first prize, second prize, third prize, and then art critics would come and art dealers would come. So it was a big deal to be accepted, to have your work admitted to one of these Salons.
[00:11:15] Annie Sargent: Right, and I assume that the public was invited to view the pieces?
[00:11:18] Elyse Rivin: Oh, absolutely. And that’s when you have, to be honest, I’m not sure when it started, but in the 18th century, in the 1700s was the beginning of having people write about it. Like art critics, like we now have in the newspaper and on television of course. The general public was invited to see things, but then you would have these official art critics and they could make you or break you, which unfortunately something that still exists, you know.
[00:11:44] Annie Sargent: I guess, so the family moved to Paris when Rosa was seven, and they moved to Boulevard St. Antoine which is kind of the, you know, Rue de Rivoli, right in front of Hotel de Sulli. That part is called Boulevard St. Antoine. So they’re right in the middle of the action in Le Marais.
[00:12:08] Annie Sargent: Andit was a completely different life from her life in Bordeaux, which was still fairly, you know, low key. And it’s still true to this day that when you go from a city like Bordeaux or Toulouse to Boulevard St. Antoine, it’s not the same pace of life, is it?
[00:12:27] Elyse Rivin: Definitely not.
[00:12:28] Rosalie was different and more independent
[00:12:28] Annie Sargent: Yes. So, Rosalie was not like the dainty little girls in Paris.
[00:12:34] Annie Sargent: She was, you know, she had strong will, she had parents who listened to her and catered to her interests rather than try to force her into being this dainty little girl. And, you know, she didn’t let anybody push her around, she was kind of tomboy compared to the other girls, but I think by today’s standard, she would not be like, it wouldn’t be shocking.
[00:13:01] Annie Sargent: She just wanted to have a say and be heard, you know, she wasn’t that different. It’s just that the other girls were treated with such like kept under the thumb so much that it was a bit surprising how much she opened her mouth, you know?
[00:13:17] Elyse Rivin: Well, it was also interesting that her family allowed her that much independence.
[00:13:21] Annie Sargent: Yes. It was very much her father’s desire for the betterment of humanity that led him to let her, his sons and daughters, do the best they could. It was a very new idea, I guess, at the time.
[00:13:36] The Political Environment in the 1830s
[00:13:36] Annie Sargent: So politically this was the 1830s and Les Trois Glorieuses happened in July 1830s. That’s what you call the July Revolution in English. This is commonly also called, The Second French Revolution.
[00:13:53] Annie Sargent: Paintings, like Liberty Leading the People, which you can see at the Louvre by Eugene Delacroix, they depict the July Revolution. Les Misérables, the novel, some of it is during the July Revolution. Because, if you’ve seen the musical, the
[00:14:11] Annie Sargent: Gavroche, he sings:
[00:14:18] Annie Sargent: so
[00:14:18] Annie Sargent: That’s about the July Revolution. So, The Barricades happen in 1830, there was much, much upheaval that ended up in bringing Louis Philippe to the throne, not for a very long time, but there you go.
[00:14:31] Annie Sargent: Rosalie was eight at the time and she lived on Boulevard St. Antoine, right in the middle of it all. She heard the cannons, she saw the troops moving around on Rue de Rivoli, she smelled the powder, the gun powder. Her home was right there in the middle of it all.
[00:14:49] Idealist vs Realist in the family
[00:14:49] Annie Sargent: Now, Rosalie’s father, for as nice of a man as he was, he often did not make enough money for a family of six, because there were four children by then. So, her mother, Sophie had to pick up the slack a lot and she did it, like I mentioned at the beginning, by giving piano lessons. She also sewed all sorts of things. And at the time is when the novel Education Sentimentale came out and garters became very popular for ladies. And so she started sewing garters and selling them. So she was always, Sophie was always trying to better her family situation, whereas her husband always thinking about bettering the humankind. And I guess that must have been an interesting pillow talk there.
[00:15:41] Elyse Rivin: Well, he was in the abstraction and she was in the reality.
[00:15:44] Annie Sargent: Right, right. He was a bit of an illuminated, he wanted to think about big things, big, big things.
[00:15:51] The Family Moved to Rue des Tournelle
[00:15:51] Annie Sargent: Then the family moved to Rue des Tournelle, which is nowadays still in the middle of Paris, but back then, it was much less populated. They did this to save money, but the place was kind of gloomy and the kids did not like it as much.
[00:16:07] Her Mother Passes Away from Cholera
[00:16:07] Annie Sargent: And then there was a terrible cholera epidemic in Paris and there was death all around. You know, when I was reading about it, it was like, if you think about the COVID-19 pandemic, the terrible days in New York, when people were really dying left and right, people were very afraid to even leave their apartments, well it was that kind of thing in Paris with the cholera. And there were conspiracies of all sorts, you know, things like people you didn’t like obviously they had poisoned the wells and that sort of crazy talk. And people were definitely living in fear and unfortunately, both Rosalie and her mother caught it, when she was 11. Rosalie got better, but her mother did not. And so she passed away when Rosalie was 11 which is terrible, of cholera.
[00:16:55] Annie Sargent: And that’s about how much notes I have, because I listened to this book, this wonderful book about Rosalie Bonheur, I’m going to name it because it’s a fantastic resource if you want to learn more about it. It’s by Catherine Hewitt, it’s called Art is a Tyrant, the Unconventional Life of Rosa Bonheur.
[00:17:15] I read the whole book, but it was two weeks ago and I’ve since been in Les Misérables up to my ears, and I kind of forgot a lot of the details. So I don’t want to say anything stupid, but that gives you an idea of who Rosa Bonheur was growing up and the sort of life she had, the sort of upbringing she had.
[00:17:33] Elyse Rivin: So Rosa, or as you were saying, you were calling her Rosalie, so maybe everybody should know that her official name was Rosalie.
[00:17:40] Elyse Rivin: But everybody started calling her Rosa when she was a little child.
[00:17:44] Rosa’s Art Education and Gifting
[00:17:44] Elyse Rivin: It turns out that, of all of the siblings, she was the most gifted and her father was in fact in her life, the only art teacher she ever had. She never went to any other school, she never did any other kinds of lessons, everything she learned, she learned from listening to, andlooking at the work of her father, and obviously some of his friends who were also artists.
[00:18:09] That’s incredible, because she was so talented. It’s unbelievable that he brought that much to her.
[00:18:17] Elyse Rivin: Well, personally, I think that you can only bring so much. It’s like, you can only bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. He gave her the tools, but she obviously had a gift. She really did have a gift, because her ability to create work and reproduce imagery and in a realistic manner was something you learned the technique, but you have to have that as a talent inside you.
[00:18:43] Elyse Rivin: And what’s fascinating is that, at the age of 14, she simply announced that she was going to be an artist.
[00:18:50] Annie Sargent: There you go.
[00:18:50] She didn’t adhere to the ‘art for women’ category
[00:18:50] Elyse Rivin: And one of the things about the story really of Rosa Bonheur, is that it’s a woman we’re talking about. If this was the story of a man artist, and there are zillions of them who are actually fairly well known, it would be simply another story of a man who was a successful artist, whatever his technique.
[00:19:09] Elyse Rivin: But what makes this particularly special is that this was a young woman who was growing up in the midst of a time when there were lots of changes in society, but most women who wanted to be artists, and we’ve talked a little bit about a couple of them that are friends of the impressionists who came a little bit later, you know, they still were doing art that was considered feminine.
[00:19:34] Elyse Rivin: They were feminine and their work was considered to be women’s art, whether that is a derogatory term or not. But with Rosa, from the beginning, she refused this category and she refused to adhere to any ideas of what a woman should do as an artist, which is another reason why she was so remarkable.
[00:19:55] Annie Sargent: And she worked very, very hard. I mean, from listening to this book, it was very clear that she tried so many different things. She was always painting, always sketching, always drawing. And she was just a very hard worker and she dedicated every hour she could. And she had plenty of energy.
[00:20:16] Later on in her life, and she lived to have a decent, I mean, she lived to be 77, she said, I don’t know exactly at what point, but I have a couple of quotes from her, but she said, “My husband is art, this is what I devoted my life to.”
[00:20:31] Her companion and assistant
[00:20:31] Elyse Rivin: However, it is true that she spent almost 50 years with a woman companion whom she met, believe it or not, at the age of 14. This was the child of somebody that were actually friends of the family.
[00:20:43] When the two of them met,her friend was 12 and she was 14. She became her assistant in the studio and stayed with her as her companion and her assistant for the rest of her life.
[00:20:59] Elyse Rivin: And, at the end of her life, Rosa Bonheur, this her companion had passed away, and a young American woman who had seen her work and wanted to meet her, moved as an art student to Paris. And she was much younger than her at the time, she was 35 years younger than her. And she became her second assistant companion and stayed with her until Rosa died in 1899.
[00:21:26] Annie Sargent: Right, and so it’s hard to know if there was a sexual relationship there or not, who cares?
[00:21:32] Elyse Rivin: We don’t!
[00:21:33] Elyse Rivin: No, we don’t need to know, but what is interesting is that from the point of view of who she was as a person, she was very clear that she was an artist and her private life was her private life. And that was nobody else’s business. And that was pretty much wonderful from her point of view.
[00:21:50] Elyse Rivin: She was extremely brave in doing this.
[00:21:53] Permission to wear men’s clothing
[00:21:53] Elyse Rivin: Now what’s really fascinating, is that she wore men’s clothing when she did certain things, including, I thought you were going to mention it, maybe we can talk about it now, that as a young artist, and even later on, she would go to slaughter houses to study the innards of the animals, to make sure that she got the musculature and the bone structure and everything accurate, just the way the men have been doing it since the Renaissance.
[00:22:21] Elyse Rivin: And for things like that, she would dress as a man. And in order to do that, there was a law in France that did not allow, you were considered to be doing a misdemeanor, if as a woman you wore men’s clothing.
[00:22:38] Annie Sargent: Right, because you were trying to impersonate a man.
[00:22:41] Elyse Rivin: You know, you wonder why would that be a problem?
[00:22:44] But whatever, you know, I mean, she had to apply, I guess to the Prefecture, to get a paper that was actually a permission, an official permission to dress as a man.
[00:22:55] Annie Sargent: Right, so this is interesting because when, at one point she was already with Natalie and she wanted to go South, she wanted to go work in nature and they went to the Ariège.
[00:23:10] Annie Sargent: And she knew that her habit of dressing in pants to go work, it was fine in Paris, nobody cared. But in the Ariège she thought, we’re going to be in trouble if I do this. And so she had to ask for permission and she had to have a specific paper authorizing her to wear men’s clothes when she was in the Ariège, which is crazy pants.
[00:23:32] Men still can’t wear women’s clothes today
[00:23:32] Annie Sargent: But you know what, if you think about it nowadays, how do we react if we see a man wearing a skirt? It’s no different. It’s just that women have been able to, uh, impose, uh, the wearing whatever they want, but men haven’t. And we have this problem right now in France with the burkini of the whole thing, which is Muslim women who want to cover up quite a lot to bathe, and French swimming pools want you to wear tight and very revealing things. And so they have to ask for special permission to wear more clothing in swimming pools. And I say, let them wear whatever the hell they want. Like who cares? You know, if a guy wants to wear skirt, fine, why not? Have at it!
[00:24:18] He can wear any skirts, but not mine.
[00:24:22] Annie Sargent: If he wanted to wear mine, he would have to look for a long time, cause I don’t have any.
[00:24:26] Elyse Rivin: Actually, no, you’re absolutely right. It is quite true that the conventions at the time, of course, we’re still talking about the 1800s, and it is still true that women are designated as being a certain way, and of course, this is not something that ends even by the end of the 1800s. But what I think is fascinating about her is that so? Okay, this is what I have to do, fine! And every six months she renewed this permit that she got, to the point where after a while I think that she must have just walked in, they looked at her and they stamped another paper and gave it to her and she walked right out again, because this is what she did for her entire life.
[00:25:05] Annie Sargent: So there were cute stories about, because she had the visit of several, she became very famous rather quickly.
[00:25:12] Annie Sargent: And once she moved to Thomery somewhat later in her life, she had the visit of the wife of Napoleon III, Eugene. And she, of course they didn’t have phones and they didn’t have text messages. She knew that the Empress would come, but she didn’t know when exactly. And somebody saw the Empress pulling up in the town and ran to her place to let her know, and so she scrambled to get out of her pants, you know to try, because she was, she wanted to look nice, but she didn’t quite make it in time for the Empress to show up.
[00:25:49] Rosa Bonheur was a trail blazer
[00:25:49] Annie Sargent: And nobody cared. Like, you know, she was who she was and it was fine. And the whole business with going to slaughterhouses, she was very young, she was like 16 or something when she started asking to go into slaughterhouses to paint.
[00:26:04] Annie Sargent: And people were just very shocked that a young lady would want to do this. And the men in the slaughterhouse, you know, there were cat calls and all of that, and one of the supervisors of the slaughterhouse took her under his wing and protected her and told the guys, if I hear one of you, you know, yelling at her, you’ll have to deal with me.
[00:26:30] She had people who understood that she needed to do what she needed to do. She needed to work, and if it involved putting on pants and going into a slaughter house to draw whatever she was practicing that day, well, so be it.
[00:26:45] Admitted to the Salon and wins first prize
[00:26:45] Elyse Rivin: So, there we are, Rosa Bonheur who at the age of 19 gets admitted for the first time in her life to one of the most important Salons. This is in 1841, and to her surprise, not only is she accepted, but she wins third prize.
[00:27:06] Annie Sargent: Wow!
[00:27:07] Elyse Rivin: And the second time she admits a work to a Salon is in 1845, and guess what happens? She wins first prize.
[00:27:17] Annie Sargent: Wow.
[00:27:19] Elyse Rivin: This is amazing. Not only because of the style of her work, but because she is a woman. And then in 1848, so she is now how old, she is 26.
[00:27:33] Her first really famous painting
[00:27:33] Elyse Rivin: She paints the painting called I’ve translated, I’m going to read the title in French and then I’ll give you my translation, but you probably will do a better job of it Boeuf et Taureau Race du Cantal.
[00:27:45] Annie Sargent: So, a and Bo, Cantal, which is, it’s a regions region
[00:27:49] Elyse Rivin: and race, I think it was.
[00:27:51] Annie Sargent: Breed,
[00:27:51] Annie Sargent: Breed of the Cantal.
[00:27:54] Elyse Rivin: the Cantal.
[00:27:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah.
[00:27:54] Elyse Rivin: So, this painting,which is the first one that became really, really, really famous, so impressed, members of the government, that they bought it from her and they commissioned her to do some work.
[00:28:07] Financially independent
[00:28:07] Elyse Rivin: And so from this point on in her life, she is financially independent. She is such a success that one work after another is either commissioned ahead of time, or as soon as she’s painted it, somebody comes and looks at it and buys it.
[00:28:25] Elyse Rivin: And this particular painting, that was bought by the government, was placed in the president’s palace. And it became one of the most important works that they had actually in their palace.
[00:28:36] Elyse Rivin: And then the next work that she did, which is one that I love that you can go to see still at the Orsay Museum, which is called in French, Labourage Nivernais, because it’s in the region of Nevers.
[00:28:49] Nevers, N E V E R S I think there’s an S at the end.
[00:28:53] Elyse Rivin: I think there’s an S at the end, too. Which is the central part of France. It’s this magnificent very, very big painting, kind of a horizontal format of a group of oxen, helping to plow the land. And it’s just, it’s absolutely fabulous.
[00:29:07] Her sophisticated technique
[00:29:07] Elyse Rivin: So very early on, she had already developed what really could be considered to be a very sophisticated, polished, realistic technique for showing not just the animals, because of course in this particular painting there actually are a couple of human beings, but one of the things that’s astounding, when you look at her work is that you see the musculature, you see the skeleton, she manages to show you all of the structure of the animal and the dynamic force of the animal, which is really one of the things that I think so impressed the public.
[00:29:41] Accepted in the Salon by default
[00:29:41] Elyse Rivin: She is unique in that she was universally applauded as an artist, so much so that after this particular painting, something happened that happened to almost no other artist, I really would have to look up to see how many other artists were allowed. The Salon, the directors of the Salon, decided that she no longer had to even pass in front of a jury. That was the end of that. When she wanted to, she could submit, she could submit a work and by definition, it would be accepted into the Salon.
[00:30:10] Elyse Rivin: Right. And I remember from the book that some years she did not submit anything to the Salon because she was too busy doing commissioned work for other people, and the French press would be, oh, she’s, you know, she’s ungrateful, she doesn’t love us anymore. Boohoo.
[00:30:26] It’s amazing. I mean, they loved her and then it’s always easy to criticize in a situation like that, but she had the great fortune of doing what she liked to do, and doing it well, and having no worries about money and was able to continue her career.
[00:30:43] Becomes the Director of the School of Drawing
[00:30:43] Elyse Rivin: In 1849 her dad died, and she took his place as the director, or directress if you wanted to call it, of the school that was called The Free Imperial School of Drawing for Young Women. And she stayed director of the school for many, many years.
[00:31:03] Elyse Rivin: And so all the time she was painting, she was also the head of this school, and one of the missions she had in life was to help young women become artists.
[00:31:14] Rosa Bonheur was an inspiration to many artists
[00:31:14] Yeah. And I think she inspired a lot of people, she really did. And she also, it was interesting because these were the days when the paintings that were popular were large historical canvases.
[00:31:28] Annie Sargent: Right. So you have the Delacroix, you have the what’s his name? Le Radeau de la Méduse
[00:31:34] Elyse Rivin: Jericho came a a little no, a little bit before, little bit before.
[00:31:39] She painted the rural France
[00:31:39] Annie Sargent: So, you have all these big historical canvases that tell a ginormous story and she did similar large canvases, but her story was the story of rural life in France. One of the reasons why the government loved it, is because back then, france was still very rural, was very famous for food production of all sorts, and having somebody like that who extolled the virtue of our farmers and the animals who helped in the production of all these magnificent foods and whatever, that was really important. That was part of the grandeur of France, is as they saw it.
[00:32:24] Annie Sargent: And obviously, we wouldn’t have all of these wonderful foods that we have without the agriculture that goes with it, you know, it’s a whole.
[00:32:32] Rosa Bonheur surrounded herself with animals
[00:32:32] Annie Sargent: And she was so interested in animals that she was surrounded by animals her whole life.
[00:32:39] Annie Sargent: I mean, she was in Paris. So we talked about her living in Paris, but going away on excursions with Natalie to work in nature, which she did several times. She also spent quite a bit of time in Nice. At one point, I think she had a house even built in Nice, I’m not sure what happened to that house later, but you know, she really liked to be by the sea, with the animals, all of that.
[00:33:03] She had lions. She had a whole menagerie at her side, even when she lived in Paris, she had like ducks and goats and animals like that. She had always had lots of dogs, lots of cats. She was surrounded by all these animals because she loved them. And apparently, the lion that she had, it wasn’t in the cage.
[00:33:25] Annie Sargent: She could approach it and hand feed it. That’s crazy talk, right? Yeah.
[00:33:30] Elyse Rivin: It’s yeah, I, yeah. I would like to know what the secret was. That’s not a little kitty cat, you know?
[00:33:36] Annie Sargent: No, but lions are mean when you put them in a cage and if you leave them alone and you feed them every day, …
[00:33:42] Elyse Rivin: She obviously had enough money to buy the animal meat every single day.
[00:33:46] Elyse Rivin: Yes. Yes. And some people say, oh, it’s weird that she loved animals so much, but she ate them. Well. Yeah. And she did eat them, huh?
[00:33:53] Oh, she did. She did.
[00:33:55] Annie Sargent: Like everybody else did.
[00:33:55] Elyse Rivin: The cycle of life, I guess.
[00:33:57] Le Marché aux Chevaux
[00:33:57] I think most people would say that her most famous painting, is a painting called The Horse Fair in English. It’s Le Marché aux Chevaux, which she painted in 1853.
[00:34:09] Annie Sargent: Is that one in England?
[00:34:11] Elyse Rivin: That’s the one that’s in The Met in New York.
[00:34:14] Annie Sargent: Ah, The Met, okay.
[00:34:14] Elyse Rivin: So the story of this painting is really rather incredible. I do not know, honestly, if it was commissioned by somebody or whether this was just her original idea. It’s an enormous painting, it’s eight feet high and 16 feet across.
[00:34:26] Annie Sargent: I think it was a commission by the French government.
[00:34:29] Elyse Rivin: And it was originally in the hands of somebody in… after the government. For some reason, this particular painting passed through several different owners. And I think it had to do with the fact that there was first this other revolution in 1848, and then there was a, somehow it wound up…
[00:34:45] Annie Sargent: That was the third French revolution.
[00:34:47] Elyse Rivin: Somehow this painting wound up going to England, where along with four other works and several lithographs, they did a traveling show of her painting. This is 170 years ago, imagine how they packed up a painting that’s 8 feet high and 16 feet across.
[00:35:06] Elyse Rivin: And it was so famous that Queen Victoria asked to have a private viewing of it because it’s about horses, and the Queens of England always like horses, always. And this painting eventually, it’s very kind of convoluted story, but it eventually got sold to one of the richest men in the United States. And that was a man named Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was a New Yorker.
[00:35:31] Annie Sargent: I heard the name, yes.
[00:35:33] Elyse Rivin: Oh, this was a biggie. I mean, this is one of the billionaires of the middle of the 19th century. He, Rockefeller, there were like four or five families like that, that really were the most important and richest people in the country, in the United States.
[00:35:45] Elyse Rivin: And he bought this painting and immediately donated it to this brand new museum that had just opened up in New York, called the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is where it still is.
[00:35:59] Annie Sargent: I’m going to have to go see that. I would so love to see that painting, because it’s just the photos of it are so, so impressive.
[00:36:08] No rights to the photos
[00:36:08] Annie Sargent: You have to go look at photos of her pieces. It’s just stunning.
[00:36:13] Elyse Rivin: Just stunning. And now I mentioned, and we can put this on the notes at the end, there is, thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art In New York, there is a series of YouTube videos that are not very long, and one was made just two years ago by an artist.
[00:36:30] Elyse Rivin: What they do is they ask an artist, who’s a well known artist, to talk about a painting that he or she loves in the collection at the museum. And this particular artist chose this painting .The Horse Fair. And it’s a fabulous little video that lasts four or five minutes at the most, but you get closeups of parts of the painting and he explains, and of course this is an American artist, so it’s in English. He really explains what makes this a great painting.
[00:36:58] Elyse Rivin: And it’s fabulous, because it really gives you an idea of what the power of her work as an artist was, really. So, she continued her painting and she continued her life.
[00:37:10] Realism focused on rural life
[00:37:10] I just wanted to say that, you were talking about the influences and the reaction to her style of painting. She became, she was never someone who said, this is the style of my work. I don’t think she cared one way or the other, honestly.
[00:37:22] Elyse Rivin: But she really is what is called an example of 19th century realism. And again, one of the things about this as a painting movement, was that it was a reaction to all the fluffiness of impressionism, if you want to call it that. All the nice little, pretty little touches of color and everything.
[00:37:39] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. Even though it came a little bit earlier, she really wanted to talk about the reality of everyday existence and the rural existence. Whereas what happened afterwards was that she influenced artists who at the end of the 19th century took her ideas about realism and applied them to urban life as well.
[00:37:59] Elyse Rivin: But she concentrated specifically on rural life and on the relationship of animals to nature and to human beings. And that became her thing, her entire life.
[00:38:12] Annie Sargent: And she had a good, long life, well lived, you know, she really did not struggle. It’s really stunning the difference between an artist like her and an artist like Van Gogh, for example. Like when you think about it, so, so different.
[00:38:29] Rosa Bonheur’s “Category”
[00:38:29] Annie Sargent: I don’t think Rosa Bonheur had any mental illness. I think she was just a person who wanted to paint animals.
[00:38:39] She set out about doing that and she did it like, she was a simple, extremely talented, extremely hardworking woman.
[00:38:49] Elyse Rivin: She was also very unique. I mean, you’re right. She was not tormented. But a lot of the impressionist artists weren’t tormented, they were just into their thing.
[00:38:57] But what I think is fascinating about her is that she took a subject matter that could be considered to be, oh, again, another picture about animals? Because you have artists who do still life, you know, pictures of bouquets of flowers or whatever it is.
[00:39:14] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. Yeah. But this is no still life. But she managed to make each painting unique and dynamic at the same time. And of course had this real talent for doing realism, which is what makes her unique. Without going into detail, there was a very famous american art historian, a woman who just died a couple of years ago, who wrote a wonderful, very long essay as part of one of her books called, Why are there no Great Women Artists in History? And she mentions several artists starting in the Renaissance, and when she gets to the 19th century she talks about Rosa Bonheur. And what she says is of course, is that,it is unfortunate that society categorizes people in all kinds of ways, and that when it comes to art, that women have had such a hard time all through these centuries, getting out of the category of just being a woman artist, as opposed to just being an artist. And Rosa Bonheur had the bonheur of being one of the few to not even be in a category. She was just a great artist period.
[00:40:27] Annie Sargent: Yeah. She just did her thing.
[00:40:29] Elyse Rivin: She just did her thing. And she must have known that she was in a privileged situation, I guess. Because I don’t know who she was friends with, I have no idea who, what other artists or other women artists she even knew. But she was really unique in both the style of her work and in the way she chose to live her life.
[00:40:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah. If you get the book, Art is a Tyrant, at the end of the book, there are several reproductions, color reproductions of her work.
[00:40:59] Elyse Rivin: And there are also several people who painted her. There’s a painting of her, a portrait of Rosa Bonheur by Eduard Dubuffe where she is, she’s got her hand over this bull. And I bet she, you know, I bet she just petted bulls all the time. Oh, a bull, a bull. I thought you said bowl a bull. Okay, B U L L.
[00:41:22] Annie Sargent: Yes, she did, she painted shepherd dog. That dog, he looks alive. It looks like, it’s unbelievable. She painted The King of the Forest, some beautiful bucks, I guess. I don’t how to say.
[00:41:36] Annie Sargent: A moose. No, not quite a moose. One of those
[00:41:38] Elyse Rivin: One of those deer, one of those big dear.
[00:41:39] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. yeah. She painted tigers.
[00:41:42] Annie Sargent: They look real, like, it looks like a real tiger. Lions.
[00:41:47] Oh, and she painted Buffalo Bill. She met Buffalo Bill.
[00:41:50] It’s interesting, why did she like Buffalo Bill? I don’t know.
[00:41:53] Annie Sargent: Because of the animals.
[00:41:55] Elyse Rivin: Because of the animals.
[00:41:56] And, you know, French people have a thing for Indians and animals and Buffalo Bill and the West, and things like that. Oh yeah.
[00:42:02] The Barbie of the 19th Century?
[00:42:02] Elyse Rivin: It is amazing. One last thing, I just discovered it this morning. I don’t know if you had read about it or if it’s in the book, but this is actually amazing. I actually saw the picture. The second half of the 19th century in the United States, where her work was actually well known of if anybody was interested in art and went to museums and everything, they had made a porcelain doll of her that wore the same masculine-looking clothes she wore with the same short hair. And it was the most popular doll sold in the second half of the 19th century in the United States. She was the Barbie of the 19th century.
[00:42:40] Her looks
[00:42:40] Annie Sargent: There you go. Well, I think she looked very, she was a handsome woman. Let’s put it that way. She had, because people say, you know, she was masculine, whatever. I don’t think she was masculine. I think she just had this very fine-looking nose, this kind of very milky white skin. At the end of her life, her hair was all white and, she just had…
[00:43:04] Elyse Rivin: I would say she had a noble face.
[00:43:07] Annie Sargent: Exactly. Exactly. She never tried to prettify herself or to be dainty. That was not her aim. She wanted to be strong and healthy and working. That was her thing, you know, she just wanted to paint animals and man, she was good at it.
[00:43:26] Annie Sargent: So I do recommend this book because it has so many great photos. Well, the book is itself is interesting, it’s very well done, but it has so many photos of her art that I just like.
[00:43:37] Where can you see her work?
[00:43:37] Annie Sargent: So to see her work, obviously The Met. There are a couple of very good works at the Orsay in Paris.
[00:43:45] Annie Sargent: Whereabouts in the Orsay? I must have, somehow I missed it. I never…
[00:43:48] She’s not with the impressionists up above. She’s down below on the right hand side.
[00:43:53] Elyse Rivin: I think it’s on the right hand side, but she’s in the section that’s for realism. I think they have it basically divided by stylistic periods that. So she’s down below, she’s probably near Courbey who was of course the first of the realist painters and the magnificent painting of the oxen is down there. So you can see it there. There’s some of her works in London. And then there’s that huge Horse Fair in The Met in New York.
[00:44:22] Annie Sargent: Right. And if you go to Bordeaux, apparently The Municipal Museum Bordeaux has several of her smaller kind of pieces, pieces that don’t cost millions, but, well, not hundreds of millions, but maybe just 1 million or something.
[00:44:36] There probably are some prints in different museums as well, because she had a lot of her works that were turned into lithographs, so there’s probably in some different museums scattered around copies or things like that.
[00:44:49] Annie Sargent: Just a stunning person.
[00:44:50] 200th anniversary of her birth
[00:44:50] Annie Sargent: And the reason why we’re talking, I mean I never heard of her until this year, and the reason why we’ve heard of her this year, because this is 200th anniversary of something. Was it her birth? No, because she was born in 1830.
[00:45:01] Elyse Rivin: 1822 she was born.
[00:45:02] Annie Sargent: Ah, she was born 200 years ago. She was born
[00:45:06] Elyse Rivin: Right. Right.
[00:45:06] Annie Sargent: There you go. So that’s why we’ve heard like on French radio, historical French radio programs that I listen to, they’ve all done something about her. That’s how I heard about her. I don’t think anybody had told me about her.
[00:45:19] Do we like tortured artists?
[00:45:19] Annie Sargent: Isn’t it funny how we like tortured artists? We like to talk about tortured artists, like Picasso, like Van Gogh, people like that who were just, you know?
[00:45:27] Elyse Rivin: I don’t think Picasso, Picasso wasn’t tortured.
[00:45:29] No, he wasn’t a tortured artist. He was just somebody who was,he grew up, he himself was, he had a long artistic life and was the son of an art painter, of an art teacher. He was just a typical male, that’s all. I mean, his art was one thing, but he just grew up in an environment where his attitude and what he thought, and especially about women, was just typical. That’s all, I mean, it was just, yeah,
[00:45:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I would qualify that as nuts but, okay.
[00:45:55] Elyse Rivin: But the majority of them were like that, even if it didn’t show in their work.
[00:45:59] Elyse Rivin: I knew about her and I know some of her work, but I didn’t know all this information about her, which I found really wonderful to read about, because she really was special in the sense that she didn’t suffer from any of the prejudice that a lot of the other women artists did, who complied to what were considered to be the norms of the time and suffered from it at the same time. She was able, thanks probably to her upbringing, to just forge her path and live her life and bless her, you know. Be herself. Be herself.
[00:46:32] Annie Sargent: Let’s do that. Keep being yourself, Elyse.
[00:46:36] Elyse Rivin: There you go, Annie.
[00:46:38] Annie Sargent: Merci beaucoup.
[00:46:40] Elyse Rivin: Thank you everybody.
[00:46:41] Annie Sargent: Au revoir!
[00:46:42] Elyse Rivin: Au revoir!
[00:46:43] Outro[00:46:43] Thank you, patrons
[00:46:43] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so. You can see them at patreon.com/joinus. P A T R E O N join us, no spaces or dashes. Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for years. You are wonderful.
[00:47:11] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons, Alistair Bean and Marilyn Miller. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.
[00:47:22] Annie Sargent: Patrons, I meant to share video of last week’s drive in the electric car, but I ran into a snag that boils down to user error. All the videos that I recorded that day are upside down, because I didn’t remember to push a few buttons and reset the camera.
[00:47:39] Annie Sargent: So now I need to figure out a way to make that right. There’s never a dull moment, I’m telling you. Hopefully by the time you hear this you’ll have the videos of my lovely drive through the Ariège. And I’ve wanted to record another update with Elyse, but she’s a little bit under the weather, but as soon as she feels stronger we’ll probably do a video together as well.
[00:47:59] But remember, if you just become a patron, you have access to lots and lots of previous Patreon rewards. And thank you so much.
[00:48:08] Preparing to Visit France?
[00:48:08] Annie Sargent: If you’re preparing a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening to the podcast because that’s a great way to get ready for your own trip.
[00:48:18] Search the website because there’s lots of stuff there that you might not remember we even talked about.
[00:48:25] Hire me to be your itinerary consultant
[00:48:25] Annie Sargent: You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. Here’s how it works. You purchase the service on JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique then you fill out a document that I send you to tell me what you have in mind, we make a phone appointment and we chat for an hour, and then I send you the document with the plan we discussed. It’s a bit of a long document, it goes into a lot of details. It’s a great kind of recap of things that have come up on the podcast, but you can’t remember all the things you hear, even if you listened to the podcast faithfully for a long time.
[00:48:59] Annie Sargent: I love talking to my listeners. Bright and early this morning, I talked to someone in California who stayed up really late to talk to me. You can bet I’m going to take extra care to find all the best stuff for her. But I do that for everybody else as well.
[00:49:15] Annie Sargent: It’s funny because some of you hire me because you’ve never been to France and you’re not sure what to expect. So talking to me is a good way to, to be sure that you’ve got it under control and others have been to France so many times, that you want some inspiration for what to do next.
[00:49:30] Annie Sargent: And there are some people in between as well, but it’s often one extreme or the other, and I really enjoy the challenge.
[00:49:38] The self-guided tours
[00:49:38] Annie Sargent: If you can’t talk to me because I’m all booked up, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tour on the VoiceMap app.
[00:49:47] Annie Sargent: I’ve produced five tours of Paris and they are designed to show you around different iconic neighborhoods of Paris. And if you just do that, you will have a wonderful time and you will see a lot more of Paris than most people do because I take you right to the best stuff.
[00:50:05] Annie Sargent: Using an app is not something that most people think of right away, but it’s so, so good because it’s cost-effective, it gives you total freedom and you’ll see so much more than the people who are just bumbling around on their own. Take a look at these tours at JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique.
[00:50:26] Travel question of the week
[00:50:26] Annie Sargent: Okay. The travel question of the week. Somebody asked, “What should I do in between two places?”
[00:50:34] Annie Sargent: And Roland responded, “I personally avoid stopping to sightsee with a car full of luggage. That’s too much risk of getting broken into. I get to my hotel, unpack and then head out”.
[00:50:49] Annie Sargent: And yes, it’s ideal. If you can get to your hotel, unpack and then head out, it’s perfect to do that. But sometimes, well, like this person from California that I was just mentioning, she’s going to be driving really close to some really fun places in between two hotels. And she’s going to be halfway between, there’s no way she can go to the hotel and come back. That would make for a way too long a drive.
[00:51:14] Annie Sargent: So what I’m going to recommend in this instance, is that you need to be a smart packer. You need to have a backpack. Now, I know that in Paris I don’t recommend you take a backpack, but when you’re outside of Paris, it’s not the same.
[00:51:29] Annie Sargent: Take a backpack or take a bag that you can carry with you easily. It shouldn’t be so heavy that you’re going to just put it down and forget it somewhere. Don’t ask me how I know that, personal experience and all.
[00:51:42] Annie Sargent: So have a bag where you keep all the stuff that’s really precious and that you don’t want to lose. In that, I would include electronics, your camera if you have one, your phones obviously, you need to have your medications if you take some every day. You need to have all your ID, all of this sort of thing that you really would have a hard time recovering if you lost it. Your dirty laundry is not as important as , as you know. If somebody breaks into your car they don’t care about your laundry, really. That’s not what they’re after.
[00:52:16] And take that backpack of precious stuff with you. Prepare it. When you pack in the morning, you know you’re going to be stopping somewhere today and leave your stuff in the car. At the hotel, just separate that and make the backpack, so you don’t have to start rummaging around in your stuff when you arrive at the venue you want to visit. It’s all ready, you just grab that backpack and go. And lock your car, obviously.
[00:52:40] Annie Sargent: Now, I have to say that cars getting broken into used to be a common occurrence probably 20 years ago in France. It is really rare nowadays, really, really rare. And that’s because there are surveillance cameras everywhere.
[00:52:57] Annie Sargent: And if you’re going to leave stuff in your car and be worried about it, then go park at a paid parking lot. Because even if there’s not an attendant on the premises, there is somebody watching video. And also, even if the person’s not watching the video in real time, if you get broken into, they will investigate, and they will go after whoever did this.
[00:53:20] Annie Sargent: And as a result, cars getting broken into is really, really rare.
[00:53:25] Annie Sargent: And so I would say, if you’re willing to be a little bit smart and pack right, so you can take your valuables with you, when you know that you’re going to be stopping somewhere, then you’re going to be fine. Honestly, you’re going to be fine.
[00:53:37] Annie Sargent: And if you pay for parking, it’s going to be even better. I even once left the car, this was a van and it had rolling doors on both sides. I had closed the one side, completely forgotten to check the other side, which had been left open and I locked the car and we went for about an hour and we came back and the door was wide open. Nothing had been taken. That was very lucky, but it’s because we were at a paid parking lot and there were cameras, and that’s not where people go looking for stuff to steal. They would much rather walk around in the city and try to get your phone out of your pocket. That’s a lot more valuable than your clothes.
[00:54:21] This Week in French News
[00:54:21] Annie Sargent: This week in French news, the massive trial around the Saint Chappelle in Paris is over after 10 months of deliberations before a jury of five professional lawyers. This trial had to do with the terror attacks of November 13th, 2015 in Paris. These attacks killed 131 people and injured hundreds more.
[00:54:45] Annie Sargent: They included an attack on the Stade de France, another at a kosher store, and at the Bataclan concert venue. It was all very shocking when it happened, and it’s still very painful to think about.
[00:55:01] Annie Sargent: The rules for this trial were that it could only go on for 10 months maximum, and the tribunal met for 149 days, which works out to about 10 months of business days.
[00:55:12] Annie Sargent: Each victim family could be represented by their own lawyer. There were lots of press, but no TV. 20 perpetrators were on trial, 14 of them were in attendance. Of the ones who were judged in absentia, one is in jail in Turkey and five are presumed dead in Syria.
[00:55:33] Annie Sargent: The last survivor of the armed commando is still alive because his jacket of explosives that he was supposed to set off at the Stade de France was defective and did not go off. The other 13 who were on trial, did not participate in the massacre directly, but they provided lots of help to the terrorist, which is why they are terrorists as well.
[00:55:56] The piece of excrement who did not die at the Stade de France, got life without the possibility of parole. His lawyers explained every which way that he did not kill anyone, so we should, you know, be thankful to him or something. But the jury did not buy it, this man was fully prepared to kill as many as possible. And F you, you know.
[00:56:21] Annie Sargent: It’s only the fifth time that life without the possibility of parole has been mandated in France since we abolished the death penalty, so this is a big deal. The others got anywhere between 30 years and 8 years with various number of years minimum served or whatever.
[00:56:39] Annie Sargent: One got two years and got 2 with time served because he provided fake ID to the perpetrators, but he wasn’t involved in the plan at all. He thought he was selling fake IDs to criminals, which is bad enough if you ask me, but probably doesn’t merit 30 years in jail or whatever.
[00:56:58] Annie Sargent: All of them have 10 days to appeal, and I suspect the ones who got the harder sentences will appeal. In France, you only appeal if you’ve got nothing to lose. Appeal courts in France often hand out worse sentences than the original sentence, if they feel that the defendant was both guilty and had no reason to complain about the way they were treated during the first trial. I am so glad this is over for the families who have lost loved ones, because I can’t even imagine how something like that, you know, that terror attack could totally turn your life upside down and change everything for you, and it must be extremely painful. It’s bad enough for those of us who just watched it at a distance.
[00:57:38] Security changes at the Sainte Chapelle
[00:57:38] Annie Sargent: For you visitors, this means that going forward, security around the Sainte Chapelle in Paris is going to be much lighter. Some of you who took my Île de la Cité walking tour in the last few months, had to take a different route because the roads where cut off and there was heavy police presence. Well, that’s over. There will still be some security of course, but you should be able to take any path you would like on public streets around the Île de la Cité, which is great.
[00:58:08] Annie Sargent: Trials like that are just terrible. In the end you can’t bring the victims back, you can’t make it right. But, I think it’s good that we let the perpetrators talk, we heard them, they had a chance to explain. I don’t think they convinced anyone, but there you have it. I think justice has been done.
[00:58:26] Annie Sargent: On another serious note, Macron and his party are still working out deals with the newly elected French parliament. The Prime Minister is still in place, although her future as the head of the government is uncertain. I hope she keeps her job because it’s high time we have a female Prime Minister and I hope she gets to do the work she was appointed to do.
[00:58:47] Annie Sargent: With this new set of parliamentarians, the Speaker of the House is also a woman for the very first time. I don’t know anything about this woman, but I salute the fact that at long last, we have both a female Prime Minister and Speaker of the House.
[00:59:04] Abortion Law Changes
[00:59:04] Annie Sargent: French people are appalled, that’s what’s happening, with the decisions of the US Supreme court. We have a Supreme Court in France also, it’s called La Cour de Cassation. They examine whether or not a law is in accordance with the Constitution, get this, before the law is passed. And they do not go back and undo laws that were decided 50 years ago. Also, there are 85 judges on that court and the general public doesn’t even know their names. Because they’re not in the news constantly. They’re not politicians, they are just people who look at the law and that’s a fine job, but they’re not superstars.
[00:59:42] Annie Sargent: Now, the Parliament could pass a new law restricting abortion. It could try to anyway, it doesn’t seem at all likely, but it could happen, I suppose. Macron’s party is going to push an amendment to the French Constitution enshrining the right to an abortion in the constitution. Which I think is probably a good thing to do, you never know.
[01:00:04] Annie Sargent: Laws regulating abortion in France were always more restrictive than what you had in America. The right to an abortion started in 1975 in France, and the details have changed somewhat over time, of course, but it’s never been under attack.
[01:00:20] Annie Sargent: In France, you can abort up to 14 weeks after the last period. If you’re going with taking the abortion pill, the limit is seven weeks after the last period. Minors can get an abortion without the consent of their parents. Married women can also have an abortion without informing their spouse. You don’t have to be French to obtain an abortion in France, just like you don’t have to be French to be treated for anything else.
[01:00:47] Annie Sargent: In France, abortions are done in hospitals and not in special clinics. As a result, we don’t have people picketing in front of the hospital, because it’s none of anybody’s business why a woman of childbearing age is going to a hospital. They have no way to know what she’s doing there. Not all hospitals in France perform abortions, but many do, and medical professionals have the obligation to inform women who need an abortion, how to proceed as not to go past the legal timeframe.
[01:01:16] Annie Sargent: So we don’t really have an abortion problem in France, the way it’s been brewing in the US for a long time, and I’m really grateful for that. I’ve never had an abortion, I was never in a situation where I could even think about having an abortion, but I fully support the right of women to have full control over their reproductive health.
[01:01:34] Personal update
[01:01:34] Annie Sargent: For my personal update this week, this is where we get to the happy news, at last. My husband and I have celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this week. We’re going out to a lovely restaurant we’ve wanted to try in Toulouse, tonight. And, you know, I really love a cruise and if COVID wasn’t rearing it’s ugly head again, I’d be booking a cruise right now. But I’d rather wait a little bit to see how things proceed.
[01:01:59] Annie Sargent: I am so lucky to have been married to a wonderful man for so long. He’s been very patient, very loving, and I couldn’t do this podcast without his support and sometimes very active help when facing technical problems. He might sort me out with the video upside down problem. The thing is he’s busy, you know, he’s busy too.
[01:02:19] Annie Sargent: I’m hoping for 40 more years with him and by then, we’ll both be in our nineties and you know, it might be time to call it quit, who knows. But anyway, it’s been a lovely 30 years and I hope for many more.
[01:02:31] Annie Sargent: I’m still really enjoying the electric car, the marvelous marvel. I’m planning a day trip to the Abbeye de Fontfroide, hopefully Saturday or Sunday. I would’ve liked to stop at Le Grand Buffet on the way. It’s a wonderful destination restaurant but it’s booked solid for the next few weekends, so mm-hmm, well, we’ll find something else.
[01:02:52] I’ve been wanting to go to the Abbeye de Fontfroide forever, and they even have a kennel where they can keep your dog while you visit the abbey So we could bring Opie.
[01:03:03] Annie Sargent: But, it might be better for her if I find someone to watch her for the day, because she doesn’t love the car as much as I do, and that ride is three and a half hours back and forth.
[01:03:12] Annie Sargent: I’d normally ask my daughter to take her for the day, but she just got a positive COVID test, so she’s a persona non grata for a couple weeks. She’s not very sick thankfully, she’s had three doses of vaccine, she’s young. But you know this thing, it’s really hard not to catch it, even if you’ve been vaccinated. So wear a mask when you’re around other people, even if you’d rather not. And at this point, I’d rather not, but I’m back to wearing masks in stores and definitely in public transportation.
[01:03:45] Show notes
[01:03:45] Annie Sargent: Show notes and a full transcript of this episode are on JoinUsinFrance.com/396, the numeral. Transcripts are wonderful, use them.
[01:03:56] Annie Sargent: Please share this episode with art lovers in your life. We need to hear more about women artists. And you have it in your power to share this and let everybody hear about the wonderful Rosa Bonheur.
[01:04:10] Next week on the podcast
[01:04:10] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast an episode with Patty Lund about some snags she ran into on her last visit to France. Great advice from someone who’s visited France several times and is still learning. Aren’t we all?
[01:04:24] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to Annie@JoinUsinFrance.Com.
[01:04:28] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.
[01:04:34] Annie Sargent: Au revoir.
[01:04:36] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2022, by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution, non comercial, No derivatives license.