Transcript for Episode 457: Jews in France: Trials, Triumphs, and Transformations

Category: French History

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 457 – quatre cent cinquante-sept.

[00:00:23] 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, and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:38] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about Jewish history in France. This is a topic we’ve wanted to tackle for some time, but there is so much to it and we wanted to do it justice, so we took our time. But we just had to, especially given the name of the podcast, and there’s a funny story about that at the start of the episode.

Annie’s tours and services

[00:01:04] Annie Sargent: 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 my boutique

Magazine: scooters in Paris, new service, and back to school

[00:01:23] Annie Sargent: And for the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll discuss a new service I’ll be offering, no more scooter rentals in Paris, and c’est la rentrée!

[00:01:35] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about the all-important back to school activities in France. Bonjour Elyse.

[00:01:49] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Annie.

[00:01:51] Annie Sargent: We have an interesting subject today. We are going to talk about Jewish history in France. It’s going to be more of a primer than an exhaustive, you know, conversation. But we do want to go through some of the highs and the lows, the triumphs and the terrible times because there were definitely a lot of each.

Funny podcast name story

[00:02:14] Annie Sargent: But I have to start with the funny thing that happened to us when we named the podcast and we did this together, we were looking mostly for for names that weren’t taken, right? Yeah.

[00:02:26] Annie Sargent: And in the tourism industry, even 9 years ago, almost 10 years ago now, a lot of the names we wanted were taken online for websites.

[00:02:35] Annie Sargent: And one of us came up with Join Us in France, right?

[00:02:39] Elyse Rivin: I do believe it was Marianne actually, your daughter.

[00:02:41] Annie Sargent: It was my daughter, who knows? And so we came up with this one not realizing that the, if you make it an acronym, it spells out JUIF, which means Jew. And we realized this, oh, a good year into it.

[00:03:00] Elyse Rivin: Oh, at least, at least.

[00:03:02] Annie Sargent: Okay, it doesn’t really matter. And by then, the podcast had enough listeners, then I thought, well, we’re not changing it now. Personally, I never shorten the name of the podcast into that acronym. And I prefer if other people don’t either. But you know, it’s a, I mean, it happens sometimes.

[00:03:22] Elyse Rivin: It happens. And I have to confess that it took me a lot longer than you to realize, because I never use the letters. I don’t use acronyms very often. And I’d always said, Join us. Join us. Join us. You know. And then one day I went, oh, look at what those letters write out.

[00:03:38] Elyse Rivin: You know? Very strange. Yes, it is very strange. It was unintentional.

[00:03:43] Annie Sargent: Unintentional. If you start a podcast, think about the acronym as well as the name of the podcast, because it’ll come back to possibly bite you in the behind.

[00:03:53] Elyse Rivin: Ooh!

[00:03:53] Annie Sargent: Because we are not a religious podcast, obviously. And neither Elyse or I are very religious at all, in any religion. But we do respect religion and we do, you know, see the fact that religion has had a large impact on life in France and in many other countries as well.

[00:04:13] Annie Sargent: So why don’t you take it away Elyse, you have a lot more to say about this than I do?

[00:04:17] Elyse Rivin: Okay, well, I thought I would begin by just mentioning a couple of things that might be of interest from a, basically just a touristy point of view. We’ve done a podcast about the history of the Huguenots, the Protestants, and I believe we mentioned some places that people can go to visit that are little museums that talk about the history and everything.

Jewish Art and history in Paris

[00:04:37] Elyse Rivin: So I looked up to make a very short list of some places that people can go if they are interested, that are both a combination of museums and memorials. There are not very many. Everybody I think who has been to Paris may know that there is a really wonderful, big museum of Jewish art and history in Paris, in the Marais.

[00:04:59] Elyse Rivin: And it is really a wonderful museum. And you certainly, it’s not a museum that you just have to go to if you’re Jewish. I mean, it’s filled with things about 20th century artists and also the history of architecture and lots and lots of other things. And it really does have a section that shows you some of the artifacts of what were the Jewish populations that had lived in various parts of France through the ages.

Synagogue in Cavaillon and Carpentras

[00:05:23] Elyse Rivin: And it turns out that there have been Jewish people in France for 2000 years. But besides that, you have a few other places that have either museums, believe it or not, in Cavaillon, which is in Provence, near Avignon. And famous for its melons, among other delicious melons, right? There is a very beautiful synagogue that also has next to it and annexed next to it, a historical museum.

[00:05:52] Elyse Rivin: And it is a monument that is visitable. It is actually open to the public, which is absolutely not the case of synagogues in other places in France.

[00:06:00] Elyse Rivin: Generally speaking, synagogues like Protestant churches, which are called temples in France, unlike the Catholic churches, are not open to the public. And some of them you can visit, but you have to reserve ahead of time.

[00:06:13] Elyse Rivin: You just have to know which ones you can. And since there are several in the South, in the Provence area, two or three of them actually are visitable. You simply have to contact and reserve ahead of time.

[00:06:26] Annie Sargent: So the one in Cavaillon, you can?

[00:06:27] Elyse Rivin: Yes, you can visit. And the other one that you can visit, which is technically speaking, even though the building itself is actually from the 1870s, in fact, both of the Cavaillon and Carpentras, the synagogues are from the actual buildings that you see today are from the 1870s.

Carpentras, the oldest synagogue, 1367

[00:06:43] Elyse Rivin: So in Avignon also. But the one in Carpentras is considered to be the oldest synagogue because it has been in continual use without interruption, believe it or not, since 1367.

[00:06:56] Annie Sargent: Wow, that’s a long time.

[00:06:57] Elyse Rivin: That’s a long time. That’s a long, long time. It is the only one. It is actually the only one. Also in the Alsace-Lorraine area, which is a region that historically for a very, very long time had a, not a huge but a scattered but relatively important Jewish population, which of course is much more dramatic anyway.

Marmoutier, a museum of Alsacian Jewish life.

[00:07:18] Elyse Rivin: But there are several small villages, there’s a town called Marmoutier, which has a museum of Alsacian Jewish life. Yeah. So it’s very nice. I mean, it has the ethnological stuff, of what life was like and things like that. There are two others. There’s a section of the museum in Colmar, which is a beautiful big museum.

[00:07:37] Elyse Rivin: There’s a whole section devoted to Alsacian Jewish life that’s a wing of the museum as well.

[00:07:42] Annie Sargent: You know, I can’t remember off the top of my head which one it was, but one of the museums we saw in Strasbourg also had a fairly big section.

[00:07:49] Elyse Rivin: It’s the big art museum, it’s the big art museum.

[00:07:52] Annie Sargent: No, I didn’t go into that one. Well, no, I don’t, I did go into that one, but only to see the Peter and Paul painting. If I remember it, I’ll put it in show notes.

[00:08:00] Elyse Rivin: Either that it was maybe the Ethological Museum or the Museum of Alsacian Life or something, because…

[00:08:05] Elyse Rivin: Yes, might have been the Alsacian Life. Anyway, there was a fairly big section in one of those museums.

[00:08:11] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. So basically, interestingly enough, oh, and the other place that this was actually surprising to me, the other place that has a Jewish museum and it is open to the public, is Beziers.

[00:08:20] Annie Sargent: Huh? No, never, I’ve never been to that one.

[00:08:22] Elyse Rivin: No, no, neither have I. We’re talking about basically Languedoc Roussillon, Alsace and Paris.

[00:08:28] Elyse Rivin: Really. Those are the three areas. There aren’t that many. There are a few memorials to sadder times. There’s a memorial to the people who were deported in Drancy which is on the outskirts of Paris. And there’s a memorial to the children who were deported in an episode that is, of course, one of the worst in this history of the last a hundred years, in Izieu, which is in the region around Lyon.

[00:08:51] Annie Sargent: Yes, and scattered throughout Paris you have plaques in remembrance of children especially who were deported and sometimes like whole schools were, you know, and so as you walk around Paris, if you read the plaques, you will see that there are memorials, small memorials in a lot of places.

[00:09:12] Elyse Rivin: In a lot of places, yes, there certainly are. There are some here too in Toulouse mostly connected to the resistance, and some of those are connected to people who are Jewish and, but not always. I mean, that’s all kind of mixed together.

[00:09:24] Elyse Rivin: In general, interestingly enough, out of curiosity, these are the kinds of statistics and figures that might, you know, that are kind of interesting to know.

[00:09:32] Elyse Rivin: The Jewish population in France is centered around about five or six relatively big cities. Of course, the biggest population is in Paris and always pretty much has been in modern times, in specifically in modern times. There’s a very, very big population in Marseille, mostly people from North Africa, which is quite different from what it was in the past.

[00:09:54] Elyse Rivin: The other cities that have significant populations include Lyon, Nice, Toulouse, and Strasbourg, which of course is connected to its history as a region that was part of the time, part of France, part of the time not part of France, and part of the time totally independent.

[00:10:11] Elyse Rivin: It has a very specific history, you know, in general.

448 synagogues in France

[00:10:14] Elyse Rivin: I did some, some other looking up, just out of curiosity. Technically at least the last, as of 2019, 448 synagogues in France to my great surprise.

[00:10:27] Elyse Rivin: A few of them are big. There’s a big modern one in Strasbourg that is almost right across from where the European Community buildings are.

[00:10:36] Elyse Rivin: It looks very similar to the kind of modern architectural building you’d find even in the States. It’s very interesting, it has nothing to do with anything looking historical or anything like that. Obviously Paris, which has a large community, has a whole bunch of them. Some of them are from the 1800s, some of them are early 20th century.

[00:10:55] Elyse Rivin: There’s a very small, pretty one, I actually passed in front of by pure chance, one day visiting Reims in the heart of Champagne country, and like the cathedral, which of course at some point was its friend and sometimes its enemy, both were rebuilt immediately after World War II. They were both destroyed by the fighting of World War II and both were rebuilt by donations from various different people.

[00:11:20] Elyse Rivin: So it’s kind of interesting because all in all, we could say that as you mentioned, it’s kind of bumpy up and down history. There are two or three regions of France that really have significant, what’s the right way of saying it? They have, they’re significantly more attached to the Jewish history than other parts.

[00:11:41] Elyse Rivin: And those are Languedoc-Roussillon, which includes Provence.

[00:11:46] Annie Sargent: Well, normally Languedoc-Roussillon does not include Provence, but you’re including it.

[00:11:51] Elyse Rivin: I’m including it, yes, you know, Avignon, all of that area, right.

[00:11:54] Annie Sargent: Right, so Avignon to Beziers is what you…

[00:11:57] Elyse Rivin: The Vaucluse area, and around Narbonne, Beziers – Narbonne – Avignon. It’s like a big kind of circle area that goes around, around there that really was very, very important historically for a very long time as the Alsacian area. Also Lorraine, which is kind of next to it on the western side. And the area around, interestingly enough, around Lyon. Not to mention Paris, but Paris is always so much a set an exception. Because it’s, it is its own thing, you know, it is its own thing. So it’s really kind of, if you think about it, it’s really like the eastern section of France up from up north to, to going south.

[00:12:32] Elyse Rivin: And, you know, I’m talking about the ancient past times as opposed to, you know, modern times.

Roman times in France, proof of jewis existance in France

[00:12:38] Elyse Rivin: But let’s go back to the beginning, because you know me, I like to start there. And in this case it is really, really interesting. There is a very interesting historical museum in Arles, which is not very far from Avignon and all these other places, that has a huge section that’s connected to the history of the Roman Empire, because Arles was…

[00:13:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah, like very Romanish, very Romanish,

[00:13:02] Elyse Rivin: Very, very Romanish. As was Narbonne. And it turns out that in the last 10 years, and not only have they dug up and put on display artifacts from the ships that carried wine and all this kind of stuff, but they’ve been finding little pieces that go back to the history of the different groups of people that lived in the region around Arles in the beginning of the Roman occupation of what of course, became Gaulle.

[00:13:28] Elyse Rivin: And of course, the Romans created a society. We’ve talked about this in other podcasts, which really lasted for about 400 years, that this famous Gaullo-Roman society, and it really did shape the nation that came afterwards.

[00:13:41] Elyse Rivin: And lo and behold, in the last few years, they’ve been digging up little pieces, you know, archeologists love to spend their days sifting through teeny little things and being crazy, you know.

[00:13:52] Elyse Rivin: With little pieces of like shards in their hand going, oh, look at this, this is wonderful, look what I just discovered. I used to want to be an archeologist, and then I realized if that’s what my days was going to be like that nevermind, you know. But among the other things I found, believe it or not, dating from the first century AD, please don’t ask me how they know that it is, but obviously they do, were some memorial candles written in Hebrew and they’ve actually dug up remnants of old structures that they can date back that far.

[00:14:20] Elyse Rivin: So among other things, because the Romans were a very literate population and they did have historians who liked to write about just about everything, there is now physical proof besides just written proof that there was in fact a Jewish population that existed along the Mediterranean coast and up near Lyon. And that was because when the Romans really established their administration, they basically opened up, what became, of course the big Roman empire to just about everybody. And that included all the peoples that had been living in Rome and the other areas along the Mediterranean that they had conquered.

[00:14:55] Elyse Rivin: It was kind of like, come and join us here, you know, we needed people to do the commercial work, we need things like that. And so there is evidence that in the area around Lyon and up and down the Rhone, including going as far as Narbonne, there were small Jewish communities that were simply one of the many groups that lived in the Roman Empire and basically participated in things.

[00:15:19] Elyse Rivin: And like most of the other peoples that were there, everybody just paid lip service to the Roman gods and paid their little taxes to the Roman administration. They were very good at that, having a good tax administration, the Romans, and they went on their merry way. And this lasted all through the period, basically that the Romans lived and controlled this area.

[00:15:40] Elyse Rivin: In fact, I discovered something doing the research on this in the year 212, which is still really in the heart of the time when the Roman Empire is very, very powerful and strong. There was an emperor named Carcacalla, if you’ve ever been to Rome, you maybe visited the bas of Carcacalla, for reasons that had to do with getting more people to pay taxes.

[00:16:02] Elyse Rivin: Everything seems to go back to that, he decided to open up Roman citizenship to every ethnic and minority group living anywhere in the Roman Empire. This is of course, adult men, let’s be clear about this.

[00:16:17] Annie Sargent: Let’s not go crazy here.

[00:16:19] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, let’s not go crazy here. You know, who were not slaves. Okay? So these had to be free men.

[00:16:24] Elyse Rivin: But as long as you were a free man, you could go through whatever the ceremonies were and pay a certain amount of money, I suppose, and become a full fledged citizen. And it was a hereditary citizenship. And this apparently, worked for the Jewish population that was in Gaulle as well.

[00:16:42] Elyse Rivin: And so for several centuries, they were just one of the many prosperous small minority groups that did a lot of trading. Of course, you know, they going back and forth across the Mediterranean and all of that. And you know, Rome was a very literate society, although I’m not sure what percentage of the people actually did know how to read and write, but it was something that was very important.

[00:17:03] Elyse Rivin: And that of course, coincides with something that is really a tradition in the Jewish religion that goes back to biblical times, which is writing and literacy are very, very important, you know?

[00:17:16] Annie Sargent: It is. And I think that’s one of the reasons why so much happened with Jews over the centuries. But we’ll get to that when you’re done telling us the chronology.

[00:17:26] Annie Sargent: For people who might be interested, there are some of these things you can find in part of the, in the museum in Arles, there is a lot of stuff that’s in the little new museum from Roman times that has just reopened in Narbonne, which is not very big, but it’s really very rich.

[00:17:40] Annie Sargent: There is evidence of stuff, of artifacts and objects from the presence of all of these people in Marseille, in Lyon, in Uzes, which is not far from, what would you say, Montpelier, as it’s close to Beziers

[00:17:53] Annie Sargent: Uzes. It’s a beginning of Sarcoteas du Pont du Gard.

[00:17:57] Annie Sargent: Well, basically where the Roman Empire was strong, at Orange also, the town of Orange, which of course still has a Colosseum.

[00:18:05] Annie Sargent: The earliest part of what we would call Gaulle, up through just about the year 455-500 AD, was a period where I would say, most groups, no matter what they were, did not have too much trouble living and doing their thing, you know, doing whatever their occupations were, participating in the intellectual life of the society.

[00:18:28] Annie Sargent: It actually did start to change when Christianity became the official religion. Sad to say this is a reality, this is what happened. Unlike the area around Narbonne and the area around Lyon, which more or less kind of stayed the same in spite of this, other parts of what is now France, as they became connected to the Kingdom of France and as the peoples became converted to Christianity, they became less tolerant towards minority groups.

[00:19:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that happens, I’m afraid.

[00:19:04] Annie Sargent: And unfortunately, the Liturgy and a lot of the teaching, particularly at the period in the period of time pretty much between the four hundreds and the seven hundreds, which is a period of about 300 years, it was not very friendly towards Jewish people.

[00:19:20] Annie Sargent: Well, no, because they had this whole thing about… If you go to Mass and you get told every week that you know, the Jews killed Jesus… uh… Yeah. Yeah. It’s not going to end well, you know.

[00:19:32] Annie Sargent: No, no. And of course, not to make too many parallels because we’re talking about difference in also sizes of populations.

[00:19:39] Annie Sargent: We’re talking about a minority that was never more than 1-2% of the population. So it’s very interesting that with the people, in terms of numbers, there were never that many, but obviously, there was a certain amount of influence that they had, both for intellectual reasons and probably also for commercial reasons.

[00:19:58] Annie Sargent: Because one of the things that they were, were tradespeople, and because they had relationships with family and other people they knew all along the Mediterranean going as far into, you know, Turkey and the Middle East, they were very successful in doing a lot of what we would now call international trading basically, you know?

[00:20:18] Annie Sargent: I mean, if you want to sell your stuff, you got to not limit yourself too much. No.

Jews and the Visigoth

[00:20:23] Annie Sargent: I learned a lot doing the research for this. In the 500s, we have a group called the Visigoths. I always like to think of the goths, you know, the kids now who wear black and punk hair, you know, hair up in straight things.

[00:20:33] Annie Sargent: But the Visigoths were not quite like that. They were hairy. They had long hair, beards, they were warriors. They came from Northern Europe. They were basically given a whole chunk of Gaulle, because the Romans wanted to get rid of them as the empire was falling. And they went, leave us alone, just take this chunk of land, we don’t need that much of the empire anymore. They were particularly nasty in terms of persecuting people who were not part of their religious group. And they were Christian, but they were not even the same as the Catholic Christians, they were then another form of Christianity.

[00:21:06] Annie Sargent: So what happened was that in the areas where the Visigoths settled, if there was any kind of a small Jewish population, they up and left. And what did was…

[00:21:17] Annie Sargent: There were a lot of Visigoths, I mean Toulouse was the center of the Visigoths.

[00:21:21] Elyse Rivin: They were the center of the Visigoths for a little over 90 years, you know.

[00:21:25] Elyse Rivin: And actually, they got pushed out by the Franks, they went over the Pyrenees and just went uh, it’s warm here, we’re going to stay, you know. So that’s where they were after that. But what happened was, it interestingly pushed some of the communities into certain pockets where there already were other parts of the population.

[00:21:43] Elyse Rivin: So it made areas, for instance, around Narbonne, much more important. And also up North, north of Lyon. And a fairly important small population of Jewish people settled in the Champagne area of all places, and apparently became, they were landowners, they were allowed to own land and they made wine, and they were very important for the Counts of Champagne because they were very, very good at what they did. And so apparently, at that time, since the region of Champagne was not part of the Kingdom of France, they lived a relatively peaceful, happy life there, and nobody bothered them.

[00:22:21] Annie Sargent: Who doesn’t like some tasty wine?

[00:22:23] Elyse Rivin: Who doesn’t like some tasty wine? And a long time ago, and I’m not sure why, one of the things that happened was that, and this is true of course, even in the parts of North Africa and the Middle East, many, many doctors. Now, of course, what a doctor was thousand years ago, or 1500 years ago, was certainly not the same as it is today.

Jewish Doctors

[00:22:42] Elyse Rivin: But there were people that were considered to be healers, and they were called what we would consider to be doctors. And among the doctors, all through history, all through the Roman Empire, and all through into the Middle Ages, many, many doctors were Jewish. Yeah. And interestingly enough, even when there were periods of real persecution, the doctors were basically excluded from this. So that you have rulers of various little of, you know, all the principalities and kingdoms that eventually wound up being part of the unified France who would not necessarily be very kind to the Jewish population, but if they had Jewish doctors, they were left as an exception.

[00:23:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and I think the reason why there were so many Jewish doctors is that Jews tend to value understanding and intellectual query, and reading and learning, and all of that. And so obviously, they had more people who wanted to become doctors.

[00:23:42] Annie Sargent: I honestly don’t know how it began. It’s very interesting. Maybe I just didn’t look in the right places to understand where that whole thing began. But yes, it is a tradition that really carried on for centuries and centuries.

Jews under Charlemagne: 700s- 800s

[00:23:53] Annie Sargent: And to my great surprise, one of the things I discovered, we all, I think, have heard of Charlemagne.

[00:23:58] Annie Sargent: I don’t know if we’ve ever actually done a podcast about him, maybe not.

[00:24:01] Annie Sargent: Not a full episode, no.

[00:24:03] Annie Sargent: Well, Charlemagne of course, he was what we would call germanic. His ancestors came from basically what is now Northern Germany. But he is the man who basically made a kingdom out of what was left after the fall of the Roman Empire.

[00:24:18] Annie Sargent: And he united, what is now pretty much most of France and even part of Western Europe. And it was in the period of time, which lasted just about almost 200 years, where he and his sons and grandsons were in power and created a full administration. That was one of the most flourishing times in this area for the Jewish population.

[00:24:40] Annie Sargent: Interesting.

[00:24:41] Annie Sargent: Had no idea. He had ambassadors who, he used official ambassadors that were sent out all over, and he had doctors and a whole lot of, basically, pretty much all of the occupations you could do, including of course, being a banker, we’re open to the Jewish population.

[00:25:00] Annie Sargent: And in fact, I mean, this is the kind of stuff that I would never have paid attention to except that I was doing all this research for the podcast, it was under Charlemagne that the first Talmudic study school was actually opened in France. Now this is of course, you know, it’s like going to Bible school. I mean, this is, you know, the basic place where you read the text and you kind of comment on the text and things like that. Lo and behold, there it was, and we’re talking about 1200-1300 years ago.

[00:25:29] Annie Sargent: That’s really cool.

[00:25:30] Annie Sargent: It’s really amazing. Yeah. Charlemagne was someone who he wanted to, well, we have this song in French that he invented school, you know?

[00:25:39] Annie Sargent:

[00:25:39] Elyse Rivin: Ah!

[00:25:40] Annie Sargent: He wanted to bring as much education as possible to everyone, and so it’s, it’s interesting to see that it included the Jews.

[00:25:49] Annie Sargent: This is, I’m perhaps being ignorant here, but is it possible for people to be Jews and practice their religion within the family only and not even have a synagogue?

[00:26:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you can but technically speaking, and I’m not sure I’m very ignorant of all the reasons why for most of these things, but technically speaking, and the part of this is very patriarchal, in order to have, you can, you can pray, just pray at home.

[00:26:17] Annie Sargent: I mean, you can just do your, whatever it is in the privacy of your own home. But technically speaking, you need to have a place of worship where there are 10 men. The magic number is 10, not sure why. It’s called a minion. Not like the minions for the little characters, that run around, but they’re yellow, you know?

[00:26:35] Annie Sargent: Once you have 10 men, nowadays in certain places, like in the States, of course it’s not just men, but traditionally it is just men, you can have a place of worship.

[00:26:46] Annie Sargent: I see, okay.

[00:26:47] Elyse Rivin: So it, it can be in a living room, it can be, it doesn’t matter where it is, but you need 10.

[00:26:53] Annie Sargent: Okay, you need to have a quorum.

[00:26:55] Elyse Rivin: You need to have a quorum. Exactly. You need to have a quorum. I’m not sure why, I am not sure if that’s something that literally comes from the Middle Ages when they became very superstitious about numbers, because that did happen too, you know, especially in the real traditionalist kinds of, you know, of background.


[00:27:11] Elyse Rivin: I’m not even sure, but it is a fact that you can pray, but somehow it’s, now I’m, I mean, this is me being a little bit,

[00:27:19] Elyse Rivin: God listens better if there’s 10 men. You got to have that number 10, I don’t know why, you know, just doesn’t work otherwise it’s not, it’s a magic number in some way. I’m not sure why.

[00:27:28] Annie Sargent: Okay, because I was just wondering if the reason why under Charlemagne and even the Romans, if they were left alone, it was just because they practiced very quietly. Like, I mean, Catholics go out and build cathedrals that everybody can see, right?

[00:27:43] Annie Sargent: I don’t think that was a Jewish thing.

[00:27:45] Elyse Rivin: No, it wasn’t, but there was always a tradition of some kind of structure, but the name of the structure indicates a place of learning. That’s literally a translation of what it is. Yeah.

[00:27:54] Elyse Rivin: So it’s not necessarily a place of prayer, it’s very interesting, the difference, you see, it’s supposed to be a place where you read texts and you try and understand things like, why does this happen, you know, and all this kind of stuff.

[00:28:07] Annie Sargent: Why do you have to wrap this thing this way and not that, that other way.

[00:28:10] Elyse Rivin: Or just why does this happen in the world, you know, and what does God want? I mean, this is a big question, you know, it’s a big question.

[00:28:17] Elyse Rivin: This is a big question. That’s why there’s never an answer, you know?

[00:28:19] Elyse Rivin: Because every time people get together and talk about this, it’s like, mm-hmm, you know, well, you think that, I think this, you know.

[00:28:26] Annie Sargent: I guess we’re not going to settle that one today, let’s meet again next week.

[00:28:30] Annie Sargent: No, no, exactly. It’s really pretty much like that, you know? And so it goes on, and on, and on. But it’s also, you know, there are things that fascinate me.

[00:28:38] Annie Sargent: For instance, I was thinking about this the other day. The artifacts that have been found that go back 2000 years are written in Hebrew. That is the tradition has stayed for over, really almost 3000 years of what basically was a form of archaic writing, you know. And everything, all these artifacts, it didn’t matter where they went, it didn’t matter later on when they were in Spain and Andalucia when they went to Portugal, when they were in Turkey. Every place that you find these things, it’s in Hebrew.

[00:29:09] Annie Sargent: And that from just, I don’t know, from an intellectual linguistic point of view, that fascinates me. You know, it’s like they’ve hold, it’s been held onto all that time.

[00:29:18] Annie Sargent: I mean, the liturgy in Latin, of course it’s only in the 20th century that they stopped in some places and made it into the local languages. So it’s the same kind of thing, except Latin, of course is written in the Roman alphabet, you know. So that this is holding on to this kind of tradition that’s very interesting, through all these ages.

[00:29:35] Annie Sargent: Right, even today if you do a Bar Mitzvah, some of, I mean quite a bit of it, the kid has to learn some Hebrew.

[00:29:42] Elyse Rivin: I mean, you know, sometimes they have no idea what they’re reading, you know? I mean, it’s phonetically, I mean, I think they’re given a translation to get an idea, but it’s very much a kind of ritualistic kind of thing.

First 1000 years of Jewish History in France

[00:29:52] Elyse Rivin: So basically, let’s put it this way, for the first 1000 years, most of the time, with a few periods where it was not so wonderful, really for most of the first thousand years in the history of what is now France from when the Romans arrived until really the time of the first crusades, Jewish life was okay. I mean, there were times when it was absolutely flourishing. The area around Narbonne was a major intellectual cultural center, it had Muslims, once Islam existed, it had Jews, it had people from various other groups. That’s one of the reasons why the first medical school ever created in France was in Montpellier because it was this interaction of all these different learned people.

[00:30:35] Elyse Rivin: Narbonne had a rich, rich intellectual history. The region around Lyon did, and Champagne, interestingly enough. It’s funny because nobody would think of it that way. And there was a very famous scholar, wise man, named Rachi who lived in Troyes, which is of course one of the cities in the Champaign area, which was a very major important intellectual center.

[00:30:57] Elyse Rivin: So it’s very fascinating to know that these things lasted maybe 100 years, 150 years in certain parts of the country. And one of the things that happened that changed all of that was the beginning of the Crusades.

[00:31:09] Annie Sargent: Mm. Okay.

[00:31:10] Elyse Rivin: We’re starting to talk the end of the 11th century, really.

[00:31:13] Annie Sargent: But that had had an effect on Jews as well.

[00:31:17] Elyse Rivin: It had a very strong effect on the Jewish population of France.

[00:31:21] Elyse Rivin: Of course, we’re still talking about a time when France was not France as it is now. You have the kingdom of Burgundy. You have the kingdom of, you know the counts of Toulouse, all of these, but they’re all connected and they’re all cousins and basically, pretty much most of them, most of them think the same way.

Terrible times for Jews in France

[00:31:35] Elyse Rivin: The fervor of the Crusades was really the beginning of an enormous period of time when it was very, very bad to be Jewish, let’s put it that way. Part of that was due of course, to the fact that one of the reasons for the Crusade was the idea of taking back Jerusalem, which was of course controlled by the Muslims, the, the Sarrasins, but it, it spilled over in terms of dogma, let’s put it that way.

[00:32:03] Elyse Rivin: Because the kings of France, starting basically with Philippe Augustus, which is really the end of the 11th century, decided and made it public in whatever ways you can in those times, that a lot of what was going wrong was the fault of the Jews. Even if there were only 1% of the population. Yeah. It’s always their fault.

Jews forced to live in “carrières”

[00:32:22] Elyse Rivin: So what happened was that they were suddenly put into what is really what we would now call very small ghettoed areas where they were not allowed to go out of, they weren’t called ghetto, that’s the Italian word, but they were called ‘carriere’, which basically means a square. So there were small areas, for instance in Paris and other places, where they had to go and live. And wear on top of everything else, starting at just about that time, give or take a short period of time, they had to wear a yellow, embroidered circle on their clothes. So it’s not just, unfortunately, in the 20th century with the Nazis that, interestingly enough, the idea of the color yellow is associated with Jewish people.

[00:33:06] Elyse Rivin: It goes way back, it goes back a thousand years basically to that.

[00:33:10] Elyse Rivin: And St. Louis, the same St. Louis who brought back the Crown, and who built San Chappelle and who built Aigues-Mortes and did all of those things, and of course was responsible for few of the Crusades.

[00:33:23] Annie Sargent: And was a very, very devout catholic.

[00:33:26] Elyse Rivin: Very, very very devout catholic. So much so that they made him a saint.

[00:33:31] Elyse Rivin: He can really be credited, unfortunately, for making it really awful for the small Jewish population that existed. But it was finally his grandson Philippe le Bel, Philip Blue, who was supposed to be so handsome and who’s portrayed with this lovely blonde hair, you know?

[00:33:50] Elyse Rivin: Who put the final coup de grace on the Jewish population. In 1306, he expelled the Jews from France.

[00:33:59] Elyse Rivin: Well, all of them, except. All of them, except. This is why, this is all from a historical point of view. No, all of them except the Jewish population that lived either in the Alsace Lorraine area, because that was not part of France, or in the Champagne area, until he annexed Champagne, in which case he told the Counts of Champagne, now that you’re officially annexed, which of course was done by an army anyway, or intermarriage and army, both. Okay, they get out, they have to leave basically.

[00:34:30] Elyse Rivin: It’s just crazy.

[00:34:31] Elyse Rivin: But the best part of this, at best, I’m being it’s not the right word, is that in the area around Avignon, there was a section of land that was given to Pope, the popes, to papal authority, starting basically in the 1200, in the early 13th century. It was officially part of the Vatican, and so it was not a part of France.

[00:34:57] Annie Sargent: Right, the Pope’s palace.

[00:34:58] Elyse Rivin: The Pope’s palace, right, in Avignon.

[00:35:00] Annie Sargent: You should visit it.

[00:35:01] Elyse Rivin: It’s fabulous, right?

[00:35:03] Elyse Rivin: So that area included Cavaillon, basically you could draw a circle from Avignon, kind of a big circle around a whole chunk of area around there, and that was officially called the Conte de Venise.

[00:35:16] Elyse Rivin: Okay.

Expelling and robbing the Jews

[00:35:17] Elyse Rivin: And it was not part of France, and it was a place where for over a thousand years, there had been a small but very influential Jewish population. And because it was not part of France, when Philippe le Bel expelled, by a reason why it was almost entirely financial on his part, he was not even devout really like his grandfather.

[00:35:42] Elyse Rivin: It was that he wanted the money of the bankers and he, like he did with the Knight Templar, he wanted to grab all of their goods and their money.

[00:35:49] Annie Sargent: Right, because when you expelled someone, you took their stuff.

[00:35:52] Elyse Rivin: And what he wanted was their property, their goods, their money, and everything else.

[00:35:56] Elyse Rivin: So a whole part of this population moved to this area because they were protected by the Pope.

[00:36:03] Elyse Rivin: Oh, I see.

[00:36:04] Elyse Rivin: So for a hundred, over a hundred years, in this particular part of what is now France, there was official papal protection, which is the irony of it all, because it’s the Vatican that was protecting the Jewish population from the French kings.

[00:36:22] Annie Sargent: And it’s also the Vatican that kept telling everybody that the jews killed Jesus.

The Pope’s Jews

[00:36:28] Annie Sargent: Go figure. Right? Yeah. They were called the Pope’s Jews. I mean, this is a translation from the French, but this is literally what they were called. And during this time, which was really for the entire period of the 14th century, the end of the 13th, beginning of the 14th century, right through to the end of it, they were ambassadors, they were the Pope’s doctors. They were allowed to have their own property. They had every right to do any occupation they wanted. And yes, among other things, they were indeed bankers. They were tradespeople and they were bankers. And a lot of, there was a lot of resentment because the kings of France wanted to get their hands on all of this stuff, and yet they were actually protected by the papal authority.

[00:37:13] Annie Sargent: Interesting.

[00:37:14] Annie Sargent: I mean, that’s cool. but it makes you wonder, yeah.

[00:37:17] Elyse Rivin: So this is what happened for the next 450 years. That is the area around, in and around Avignon and the region in and around Alsace and Strasbourg and Colmar.

[00:37:31] Elyse Rivin: Those were the parts of France where there were Jewish populations that with some restrictions, were able to live without being massacred, without being too persecuted. And nothing changed in the laws, which included this law that I was telling you about, that got changed in the pretty much the second half of the 19th century.

Mordecai Judaica

[00:37:55] Elyse Rivin: There was a law called Mordecai Judaica, which was established at this time, earlier actually I think in the Middle Ages, which said that the word of a swearing for any case of justice or, you know, for whatever reason you have to take an oath to, to, to swear that you’re going to tell the truth, that the word of a Jewish person was not as good as a word of a Christian.

[00:38:17] Elyse Rivin: And so they had to go through a very strange kind of ritual thing. And basically humiliate themselves in order to be believed. And this was a law that lasted from basically the time of the Crusades up through into the French Revolution.

[00:38:33] Annie Sargent: Wow, that is a very long time. And It’s a crazy law. That’s, what?

[00:38:38] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. It’s a crazy law. And so along comes the end of this period, it turns out that Louis XVI, the poor Louis XVI, who wound up getting his head chopped off, he was one of the most liberal of all the French kings. And even before the French Revolution really officially happened, he has already signing papers, basically making it official to have religious tolerance and that people could do what they wanted and things like that.

Giving Jews full citizenship in France

[00:39:05] Elyse Rivin: It was very interesting, the little things you learn left and right when you do some of the thing like this. And then we get to 1791 and the convention and in the midst of all the turmoil of the French Revolution, you have various people including Mirabeau, was a very important person in the French Revolution, who decided that it was time to make it official and part of the law to allow for Jews to have complete citizenship and freedom to do what they wanted, live where they wanted, own what they wanted.

[00:39:38] Elyse Rivin: And that was when the first laws were finally signed after almost 2000 years, really since Charlemagne, that made it possible for a Jewish person to have full citizenship, and be equal in every sense in terms of the law as anybody else. 1791.

[00:39:58] Elyse Rivin: That’s crazy.

[00:39:59] Elyse Rivin: Okay.

[00:39:59] Elyse Rivin: And then this was followed immediately by Napoleon.

[00:40:04] Elyse Rivin: Which is what, 3, 4, 5 years later. I mean, this is, you know, all at the same period of time between 1790s and what 1806, I think. He followed through with several other laws. But he did something very interesting, and this is something I didn’t even know about. In France, you have ever since, well be partly because of the Catholic church, but ever since the beginning of the war with the Protestants in the 16th century, and this is part of the mentality of the administration in France, there is a central governing board for the different religious churches, right?

Jews in France under Napoleon

[00:40:38] Elyse Rivin: There’s what they call a Consistory for the Protestants, there’s a board of directors that basically control the politics and the preaching, I think of most of the Protestant temples in France. And so what Napoleon did was he said, I will make into a law that it will be absolute and permanent for the future, that the Jewish people who have equal rights for everything, as long as, and this is what makes it fascinating, they are assimilated. That is, that they do and act like everybody else, that they don’t look different in terms of what they do, things like that. Which is very interesting when you come up to current times, and the questions we have about assimilation in France. And, he said since he believed in a centralized government for everything, he said, we’re going to create a Consistoire, which means there’s going to be a head organization for any of the Jewish communities and any of the synagogues or temples anywhere in France.

[00:41:38] Elyse Rivin: And that organization is going to be a board of directors who are going to basically say what the policy is in all of these places. And France is the only country that has that in the world.

[00:41:50] Elyse Rivin: Huh. Okay.

[00:41:51] Elyse Rivin: And it still exists.

[00:41:54] Elyse Rivin: Oh, I see.

[00:41:54] Elyse Rivin: And I don’t know, to be quite honest, I have no idea how important it is in the sense that, and you called it the Consistoire.

[00:42:03] Elyse Rivin: And it’s like a governing board, you know, like the head of a corporation.

[00:42:07] Annie Sargent: For like Jewish institutions in France, huh?

[00:42:10] Annie Sargent: Because you hear about the Grand-rabbin de France, who like, whenever there are official things that he gets invited and represents the Jewish community.

[00:42:23] Elyse Rivin: And that’s why. And that’s why, because, as far as I know, I may be wrong, there may be another European country that has something similar, but as far as I know, it certainly does not exist in the United States. I mean, there are councils, you know, there are councils.

[00:42:38] Elyse Rivin: The other thing that’s different, of course, and that is because we’re in terms of talking about modern times in 20th and 21st century, there are now of course more liberal groups and more, you know, more modern movements inside. There were different tendencies, you know, inside the religion. But at that time there was not.

[00:42:56] Elyse Rivin: And so basically it was, there were two things. One, there had to be a governing board and everybody basically had to a assume this idea of being assimilated, which is of course exactly what it was like for most Jews in Germany up until the 1930s, that is, they were mostly unlike other parts of the world, they were very assimilated. Basically, meaning what? That they looked like everybody else. They dressed like everybody else. They had jobs like everybody else, and they weren’t necessarily very religious. That’s the other part of it, you know?

[00:43:25] Elyse Rivin: All of that is thanks to the Revolution and Napoleon. And for the first half of the 19th century, you have diplomats, you have politicians. Now again, we’re talking about a very small percentage of the population, but basically things are fine, starts to change again when the Prussians invade Paris and invade France and the ancient animosity between the Germans, what we call the Germans, of course, you know, they were the Prussians for the French people then, and the French gets translated back into Alsacians, Jews, Germans, they’re kind of all assimilated into one.

[00:44:03] Annie Sargent: Well, after all Yiddish does sound german.

[00:44:05] Elyse Rivin: It is partly German. It’s old German, you know. So what happens is that basically starting in the 1870s, there is obviously, there’s a resurgence of what we now called antisemitism.

Adolphe Cremieux and Jean Jaurès

[00:44:18] Elyse Rivin: But there was a man whose existence I only discovered doing the research on this. And his name was Adolphe Cremieux and he was basically from the Northeast of France. And he was a statesman, a politician. He was a member of the same group as Jean Jaurès, and he was Jewish and he was a practicing Jew, but he was not a super religious Jew, but he actually did not hide the fact that he was Jewish. And he actually became a Minister of Justice in France in the Second Republic. And he was an incredibly influential person. And he was responsible for two things. One was getting rid of this horrible law of the, what they called the Mordecai Judeica that had been on the books since the Middle Ages about the pledging in…

[00:45:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you can’t trust a Jew to tell the truth or something.

[00:45:09] Elyse Rivin: And he had it eliminated from the books, basically.

[00:45:13] Elyse Rivin: And with the help of Jean Jaurès and his group of people in parliament. And he was also responsible for something that certainly would not have been anything I would’ve known about, but it would’ve affected if your family had been Jewish because they lived in Algeria, it would’ve affected them because Algeria, this time was a French colony.

Jews become French citizens in French colonies

[00:45:32] Elyse Rivin: He and Jean Jaurès and a group of these liberal people wanted to make a law that would make anybody who was under the rule of the French, therefore, for instance, all the people living in Algeria, including the Jews and the Muslims, they could become French citizens.

[00:45:52] Elyse Rivin: And obviously, there was a lot of debate about it and there was a lot of resistance to it.

[00:45:57] Elyse Rivin: But since the Jewish population apparently was estimated at being only about 25,000 as opposed to the several million Muslims.

[00:46:05] Annie Sargent: Well, yes, in Algeria, yes.

[00:46:08] Elyse Rivin: So eventually, I’m not sure how long the debating took, but certainly I’m sure with a lot of opposition, Cremieux and Jean Jaurès were responsible for passing a law that allowed anybody of Jewish heritage in North Africa, which is primarily Algeria, but I think also in Morocco, to become a French citizen.

[00:46:27] Elyse Rivin: And automatically became a French citizen, but certainly not the Muslims.

[00:46:32] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so when my ancestors who went from Spain to Algeria, they automatically became French citizens upon entering the port. But they were catholic, you know. So for Jews, they made different arrangements.

[00:46:51] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. And of course we’re talking about a population that was living there for 2000 years, and we’re not talking about people that gone from France, you know, back there. It’s just like…

[00:47:01] Annie Sargent: They had been there all along.

[00:47:02] Elyse Rivin: Been they’re all along, you know, but it, I didn’t know about his existence. So this is really interesting.

The Dreyfus Affair

[00:47:07] Elyse Rivin: And then of course, what we have at the end of the 19th century, which is something of course you do know about very well too, because it was in some of the books is the Dreyfus Affair. And the problem with the Dreyfus affair was that, so this is in 1894. A brilliant captain in the French army who had fought against the Prussians in 1870, but who was from Alsace and who happened to be Jewish, although I doubt if he was actually, you know, religious at all.

[00:47:35] Elyse Rivin: He was accused of treason. It turns out, of course, by the time they, this whole thing ended, which was not until 1906, that they discovered who the real traitor was. And it was somebody else that was actually part of his company in the army.

[00:47:49] Elyse Rivin: But because he was from Alsace, and there was bitter antagonism towards anybody who had anything Germanish about them, and the fact that he was Jewish, it brought to the fore this kind of rising antisemitic feeling. And there were two newspapers even published at the end of the 19th century in Paris, that actually had as their fundamental idea that Jews were behind everything bad that was going on in the world. There was a television series that I think can be picked up on one of the streaming services because my sister is, have both watched it called Paris 1900.

[00:48:27] Elyse Rivin: That is excellent. And that talks about this. And it’s really, it’s very good. And I learned things about what was going it, it uses the Dreyfuss Affair as a kind of excuse to talk about the creation of modern police, but also talks about the antisemitism in Paris. And it’s really a great series for anybody out there who’s interested in.

[00:48:46] Elyse Rivin: It’s a good series. It’s just, you know, it’s not just didactic, it’s really good.

The 1930s and WWII

[00:48:50] Elyse Rivin: So that takes us into the 20th century. The 1920s and 1930s after World War I, we’re relatively calm, and you even have a president of France named Leon Blum. A part of, I think he was part of a socialist group.

[00:49:05] Elyse Rivin: There was a period in the 1930s, I’m sure that there was a certain amount of resistance to him. But it wasn’t until, of course, the rise of Nazism and World War II that we go back to this horrific period.

[00:49:19] Elyse Rivin: And since I think most people are well aware of, of what that was all about, just to mention a few things. The population in France of French-Jews, is estimated at the opening fighting of World War II to be just not much more than 75,000 people. But because of Nazism and because of what was going on in the rest of Europe, the Jewish population of France quadrupled.

[00:49:45] Annie Sargent: Hmm.

[00:49:45] Elyse Rivin: And it is a fact that the Vichy government, which was unfortunately as nasty and as antisemitic as the Germans were, they did first target what they called, The Foreigners. And by foreigners they pretty much meant, all of these refugees that were coming across from Eastern Europe.

[00:50:04] Elyse Rivin: But in the end, of course, that it did include a part of the population of the French Jews as well.

Simone Weil

[00:50:10] Elyse Rivin: Now, there were really a lot of people who did help and a lot of people hid children. And interestingly, in small towns and in farm areas, there were lots and lots of people who were courageous enough to hide families, to help people leave the country and specifically to help a whole lot of people. But of course, it was a very tragic period and a lot of people were deported. One of the people that I, we will do an episode about because she’s so amazing, was an amazing woman, Simone Weil, who just recently died, was a part of an assimilated Jewish family in Nice, who was sent away to a camp with her sisters and mother.

[00:50:53] Elyse Rivin: And not only did she survive and come back.

[00:50:56] Elyse Rivin: Father and brothers as well.

[00:50:57] Elyse Rivin: And her father and brothers as well.

[00:50:59] Elyse Rivin: But she came back and became an incredible stateswoman and a lawyer and a politician, and an amazing, amazing woman with amazing accomplishments for people. One of the testimonies of the resilience of humanity, I think, of all.

[00:51:13] Annie Sargent: She’s in the Pantheon.

[00:51:15] Elyse Rivin: And she is in the Pantheon. And they took her husband too because they didn’t want to be separated, but she’s the one that’s in the Pantheon. Yeah. Right.

[00:51:24] Elyse Rivin:

Since WW2

[00:51:24] Elyse Rivin: So that just, of course, since World War II, this is what has happened. Since World War II, because of what happened during the war, the biggest part of the Jewish population of France is now not from Eastern Europe or ashkénaze, as they say for people from Europe, but from North Africa. Because many, many people came up during World War, at the end of World War II, not during World War II, partly because it was possible to do so because they had French citizenship, partly because with the creation of Israel, there was a huge, huge Jewish population in Morocco, in Algeria, and in Tunisia, and a lot of them at first did not want to go anywhere. But in some parts of the North African community, they were basically encouraged to leave and so many of them did come to France. And so, to this day, the biggest percentage of the Jewish population right now in France is really mostly from either Eastern Mediterranean or from North Africa.

[00:52:26] Elyse Rivin: There’s a small percentage left that is really from Eastern Europe. The percentage today, interestingly enough, it’s fascinating, the approximate population now is still 1%.

[00:52:36] Annie Sargent: Uh-huh. Yeah, so it’s been stable this whole time.

[00:52:39] Elyse Rivin: It’s estimated, and of course these are estimations, you know, it depends on whether people talk about it or not and tell the truth.

[00:52:44] Elyse Rivin: But at just about 650,000, which is not a whole lot of people, when you think about it. But what really is fascinating is that even though, and it is true that France is a country where, especially since the French Revolution, people don’t talk about religion. It’s not a subject of conversation.

[00:53:04] Annie Sargent: Well, they don’t even ask, like the census, does not ask what religion you are in France.

[00:53:10] Annie Sargent: So we have estimations of how many Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Catholics and whatever we have in France. But it’s only an estimate.

[00:53:22] Elyse Rivin: It’s only an estimate.

[00:53:23] Annie Sargent: It’s, we don’t have vital statistics about that.

[00:53:25] Elyse Rivin: Which is probably where some of these umbrella organizations come in.

[00:53:29] Elyse Rivin: Because what that means of course, is that I’m sure there are people of all of those, you know, groups that simply in some way, they are, but they’re not practicing, they don’t identify as that. So they don’t say anything. Yeah, they don’t get counted. Yeah.

[00:53:44] Elyse Rivin: They don’t get counted. So, you know, who knows if these numbers are really in any way accurate?

[00:53:48] Elyse Rivin: What is true though, and that is interesting, is that because the majority of the practicing Jewish population in France is largely from North Africa or from Eastern Europe, really, you know, extreme eastern like Turkey, I mean the Middle East, Lebanon and things like that, they are more religious than the population was prior to World War II.

[00:54:10] Annie Sargent: Oh, I see.

[00:54:11] Elyse Rivin: So for instance, there’s more visibility that way, just like there’s more visibility in the last generation with Muslims, especially young people who really want to show their identification, which has become an issue here in France. So it’s very interesting because certainly, there are lots and lots of people in the public eye, singers, actors, writers, people like that.

[00:54:36] Annie Sargent: Few notable politicians.

[00:54:38] Elyse Rivin: Notable politicians. But again, it’s not something people like to talk about in France. Let’s just say that, thankfully, certainly in the last 70 years, obviously there have been some, a few episodes because of the terrorist attacks in a few years, last few years. But basically it’s a period of time where pretty much you are who you are, you do what you do, and everything is okay.

[00:55:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:55:05] Annie Sargent: It’s generally considered to be a non-issue, for most people anyway.

[00:55:09] Elyse Rivin: But it’s kind of interesting to see the ups and downs over this period of literally 2000 years. And you know, to me, aside from everything else, it’s just a lesson in how you have to be able to be accepting of people no matter who they are.

[00:55:26] Annie Sargent: Exactly.

[00:55:27] Annie Sargent: Exactly. You know.

[00:55:29] Annie Sargent: Well, we’ve been talking over an hour Elyse, so we got to stop it. There would be other things that we could talk about, but we’re going to stop it there. Thank you so much. That was a really interesting overview of what has happened over, you know, the 2000 years of Jewish history in France.

[00:55:45] Annie Sargent: So, merci Elyse.

[00:55:47] Elyse Rivin: You are welcome, Annie.

Thank you Patrons

[00:55:48] Elyse Rivin: Again, I want to thank my patrons for giving back and supporting the show. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at Thank you all for supporting the show.

[00:56:15] Annie Sargent: Some of you have been doing it for a long time, you are fantastic.

New patrons this week

[00:56:20] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons, Jessica Andrews, Dean Whitehead, Silvia Vogel and Elaine Donoghue.

[00:56:29] Annie Sargent: To join this wonderful community of francophiles, go to And to support Elyse, go to

Zoom meetings with patrons

[00:56:44] Annie Sargent: I had four Zoom meetings with patrons last week. About 150 people participated over the different meetings. We had a great time chatting and getting to know one another. I offered different days and times, so everyone, wherever you are in the world, you have a chance to participate.

[00:57:02] Annie Sargent: The next Zoom meetings will take place on September 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Patrons who support the podcast at $5 and up will get their invite on September 18th.

[00:57:14] Annie Sargent: We didn’t have a theme for the last Zoom meetings, but going forward each month, I’ll prepare a short presentation to start the meeting and then we’ll chat about that or anything else that you have in mind.

[00:57:27] Annie Sargent: The theme for our September meetings is going to be, Active Vacations in France. I’ll prepare a list of resources to share with you to help you plan your own active vacation in France. And I hope that those of you who hiked, biked, ran and swam in France will be on the meeting to share your experiences.

[00:57:48] Annie Sargent: We’ve had podcast episodes about active vacations in France, but on a Zoom meeting it’s a conversation and there’s, you know, so much to learn from all the folks in the meeting who’ve experienced so many things around France. I look forward to seeing you there. And to participate in these Zoom meetings, become a patron

New Collections tab in Patreon

[00:58:11] Annie Sargent: If you log into Patreon, you’ll see a new tab that reads ‘Collections’. Under that tab, you see a collection of posts having to do with different topics. You’ll see a collection of all the Patreon posts I’ve made to help you practice your French, a collection on French history posts, French food posts, life in France posts, et cetera.

[00:58:34] Annie Sargent: Previously, you had to scroll down, and down, and down, and down to browse all the posts I have made, and there are a lot. But now you can see them all quickly under the ‘Collection’.

[00:58:45] Annie Sargent: So it’s easier than ever for people who join Patreon today to find all the posts that they’re going to enjoy.

[00:58:52] Annie Sargent: And thank you for your generous one-time donation, Kathryne Stein, and thank you for your note. You wrote: ‘Annie, thank you for such a wonderful podcast. It has been an invaluable resource for my two trips to France for my family.’

[00:59:06] Annie Sargent: Thank you very much, Kathryne. She did this donation by clicking on the green button on any page on Join Us in France that says ‘Tip Your Guide’. And it is much appreciated.

[00:59:19] Annie Sargent: As you know, the podcast is free and will continue to be free, but it’s also an independent business because like you, I have bills to pay.

Join Us in France services available

[00:59:28] Annie Sargent: Here are the Join Us in France services that are available to you.

Personal Itinerary Consultant

[00:59:32] Annie Sargent: 1. You can hire me to be your personal itinerary consultant. I offer two levels of service, the Bonjour service and the VIP service. And with both of these, we get on a Zoom call for about an hour, and I help you figure out the best way to organize your trip, choose transportation options. I point out what not to miss, what order you might want to do things in, the markets, the events, the tickets that you need to get in advance or not, the hotels and the restaurants that you should look at, et cetera.

[01:00:02] Annie Sargent: With the Bonjour service, once the call is over, that’s it. My part is done. With the VIP service, you also get a detailed written document and you can ask me follow-up questions, et cetera.

[01:00:16] Annie Sargent: So that’s the first service you can buy from me.

GPS self-guided tours

[01:00:19] Annie Sargent: 2. The second thing is you can take me in your pocket by using my GPS self-guided tours on the VoiceMap app. You can read all about that by typing in any browser.

[01:00:32] Annie Sargent: And I’m a big fan of GPS self-guided tours because it gives you ultimate flexibility. The technology is wonderful, it makes your life easy, and it’s a wonderful way to discover Paris in depth and yet at your own pace, right? And it’s cheap. It’s really, really cheap.

[01:00:49] Annie Sargent: Podcast listeners can even get a bigger discount if they buy tours from my boutique.

Day Trip with Annie – New Service

[01:00:56] Annie Sargent: 3. Now the third way you can support this podcast is by purchasing this new service I’m adding. I’m calling it ‘Day Trip with Annie’. It’s a car and driver service where we go on a day trip together. I can take up to four people in my very comfortable MG Marvel R electric car.

[01:01:15] Annie Sargent: So you’re not even burning petroleum, whew, big plus. And we can go anywhere within about 200 to 250 kilometers of Toulouse. The cost will be different, a little bit depending on how far we go and how long that’s going to take. But I can arrange visits to wineries, chateaus, painted caves, Cathar sites. To give you an idea of the edge range for this service, I can take you to the Dordogne to Montpellier in the Mediterranean coast, Lourdes and the Pyrenees, the Basque country, that’s further, but it’s doable as well. And the pickup has to be in or near Toulouse. The price is the same whether there’s one or four of you, but it’ll change depending on how far we have to go.

[01:01:58] Annie Sargent: If you’re interested in that, I am going to add a writeup about that to the boutique page. But you can also email me, obviously Annie@JoinUsinFrance.Com because that’s more of a, you know, it’s more of a custom thing.

[01:02:12] Annie Sargent: We’ll have to discuss what it is you want to do for that day, and so yeah, we’ll have to chat it over, talk it over between ourselves.

No more scooter rentals in Paris

[01:02:20] Annie Sargent: Now let’s talk about no more scooter rentals in Paris. Paris is now going to be one of the, I think, the only big city in the world that has outlawed these scooters. There was a vote a few months back. Very few people went to vote, and the ones that went by 95% I think said, no, no more scooters.

[01:02:40] Annie Sargent: This was a, this was the get off my lawn kind of vote. You know, scooters are a problem. I don’t love them. I can’t ride them. I don’t think I have enough balance for those things. They go too fast. I can bike, but scooters, that’s a different thing. I can’t say I will miss them, but you need to know that there will still be scooters on the streets in Paris, but these are going to be private scooters.

[01:03:02] Annie Sargent: Okay. Private individuals that have their own scooters can do whatever they want. I mean, obviously that, you know, it’s their own. But companies like Lime and whatever the other ones, they’re going to put in more bike rentals in Paris, which I think is better.

C’est la rentrée, mes amis!

[01:03:16] Annie Sargent: C’est la rentrée, mes amis! C’est la rentrée!

[01:03:20] Annie Sargent: It’s going to be not next Monday, but the following Monday. La rentrée is back to school. This year, kids go back to school on Monday, September 4th, and this is when you know, life starts up again in France after the summer doldrums.

[01:03:36] Annie Sargent: For you visitors, this means that for the most part, all the fun programs at chateaus and museums are over until the late October school vacations start, and in a lot of places, once that October school vacation is over, which is usually in early November, the tourist season is over until March when the March school vacation ushers in to tourist season again. So things like canoe rentals, the light and sound shows, the small museum, anything that is not in high demand will probably shut down entirely, early November until March.

[01:04:17] Annie Sargent: And that’s always timed around the school vacations. So if you look at the calendar of French school vacations, you know, whenever the school ends, well, that’s when everything dies off in November and whenever schools vacation starts in March, that’s when everything comes back to life.

[01:04:35] Annie Sargent: In Paris and most cities, attractions stay open year round, of course. I’m just talking about very small, you know, I know not a lot of you go to tiny places, but for those of you who do, it’s important to know that things are going to get real quiet for all of these attractions.

Sign up for associations

[01:04:54] Annie Sargent: The other thing that is important for those of you who are living in France, either permanently or temporarily, is that associations are going to open enrollment for the year. This is the time to sign up for all sorts of things, you know, sports, soccer, martial arts, biking, hiking, whatever. Cultural associations like theater, choirs, board games, special interest associations. That’s where your vintage car is, your seniors group, your crafting, your astronomy, you know, there’s an association for everyone in France. Attend the Forum des Associations, so that’s the place when all association, the presidents usually show up and they sit at the table and they will talk to anybody who wants to come by to ask about the association, what they do, what time they meet, and what day they meet, and all of that.

[01:05:42] Annie Sargent: So attend those sorts of events, visit your town’s official website to see what’s available. And I think that is a great way to find new friends in France.

[01:05:54] Annie Sargent: My thanks to podcast editors Anne in Christian Cotovan who produced the transcripts.

Next week on the podcast

[01:05:59] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Christopher Tipper. Vroom. Vroom. This one is going to be for car enthusiasts and folks who want to visit Le Mans.

[01:06:16] Annie Sargent: Thank you for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir!


[01:06:23] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.


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Category: French History