France

The Literary Madman Gérard de Nerval

The literary madman Gérard de Nerval was the nom-de-plume of the French writer, poet, essayist, and translator Gérard Labrunie. He was a major figure of French romanticism and is best known for his poems and novellas. He was interested in literature from a young age and at 16 wrote a poem about Napoleon’s defeat called…

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Mid-nineteenth Century Jardin des Plantes

The mid-nineteenth century Jardin des Plantes or the Jardin des Plantes de Paris was France’s main botanical garden. It was founded in 1626 and originally known as the Jardin du Roi. However, in 1635, Louis XIII’s physician, Guy de La Brosse, planted medicinal herbs in it, and it opened to the public in 1640.

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1802 Parisian Millinery Fashions According to English Newspapers

Parisian millinery fashions in 1802 were something that English newspapers always remarked about because the most fashionable of women knew that they could not be seen without the proper hat when they hit the streets. Newspapers loved to provide all the details related to the last fashions, and millinery was no exception. However, because fashions…

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Porcelain and Madame de Pompadour

Today’s guest is Nancy Bilyeau. She has worked on the staffs of InStyle, DuJour, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at City University of New York and a regular contributor to Town & Country, Purist, and The Vintage News. She…

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French Masquerade Ball Costumes in the 1700 and 1800s

There are many descriptions of what people wore in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in France. Some of these descriptions were printed in books about acceptable masquerade ball costumes that could be worn to dances and parties. Descriptions also sometimes included actual fashions worn by peasants, gentlemen, ladies, merveilleuses, incroyables, and nobility. Here are some…

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Napoleon’s Coronation

Because there were so many attempts on Napoleon’s life, it was decided there needed to be an institution that would survive him, and, thus, the idea of a monarchy was re-born and Napoleon was proclaimed “Emperor of the French” by his hand-picked Senate, known as the Sénat conservator. The hereditary title was given him on…

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Napoleon Bonaparte’s Youngest Brother Jerome Bonaparte

Jerome Bonaparte was Napoleon’s youngest sibling. He was born on the island of Corsica on 15 November 1784 and was barely three months old when his father died. Napoleon soon became responsible for his education, something that Jerome was unwilling to apply himself to as everything other than his studies was of more interest to…

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When Napoleon Courted Désirée Clary

When Napoleon courted Désirée Clary (born Eugénie Bernardine Désirée Clary), he was about twenty-five. He met her while stationed in Marseille after his strategy proved successful at the Siege of Toulon in 1793. Désirée was the daughter a wealthy Marseille silk manufacturer and merchant named François Clary, who had four children by his first wife,…

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One Visitor’s Tale of Madame Tussaud’s 1883 Exhibition

Heavy rain showers induced one Londoner who had been reading William Black’s Macleod of Dare to ponder about a better way to spend his time. When he looked out his window and saw wet streets and large splashing raindrops, instead of staying inside or following Black’s advice to enjoy an art pilgrimage to the National…

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