Category: france

The earliest roller coasters were descended from Serra da Estrela, Portugal sled rides held on specially constructed hills of ice. They were pretty big,  sometimes up to 200 feet (62 m) tall! The Serra da Estrelas were constructed by a large group of Russian refugees to remind them of where they came from. There is evidence for them as early as the 1600s, in the 1700s they gradually became popular across Europe, and by the early 1800s wheeled carts began being used instead of sleighs on tracks. The first such wheeled ride was brought to Paris in 1804 under the name Les Montagnes Russes (French for “Russian Mountains”).

French, along with Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, still call roller coasters “russian mountains” after their snowy ancestor. Russian, ironically, calls them “American mountains.”

…if they’re deaf. British Sign Language and American Sign Language are different languages, and are not mutually intelligible.

American Sign Language is distantly related to French Sign Language, as an American pastor and major contributor to American Sign Language got training from the National French Institute for the Deaf after the British deaf schools refused to share their teaching methods.

British Sign Language evolved independently from deaf communicators. Evidence of sign language in England dates back to 1576 when the Marriage Register of St Martin’s, Leicester described the vows signed by Thomas Tillsye.

Did you know that ancient Egyptians enjoyed the sweet sap of the marsh mallow plant? Or that France was very important in creating the confection we know and love today? Read more…

Between 260 and 274 CE, a series of generals ruled over the Gallic Empire. What about the Roman Empire, you are thinking? The Gallic Empire was a breakaway state that controlled the former (and future) Roman provinces of Germania, Gaul, Britannia, and for a time Hispania. It had five emperors in 14 years, printed it own coins, elected two consuls each year, and likely even had its own senate.

The Gallic Empire was a symptom of the Crisis of the 3rd Century, when Roman power was seriously challenged and breakaway states including the Gallic Empire and the Palmyrene Empires sprung up. Both were reconquered by the militarily capable Roman emperor Aurelian in 273 and 274, but the crisis did not really end until Diocletian took the purple in 284 CE.

It is rare to have 100-year-old wines, as people tend to drink them before they reach the centennial mark. But there has been a notable decrease in 100-year-old wines starting in 2014 due to World War I. It is expected for there to be a similar shortage starting in 2039.

King John of England is most famous today as the bad prince in Robin Hood, or the king whose barons rebelled and made him sign the Magna Carta. But did you know that within his first three years as king, he lost almost all of the crown’s holdings in France?

He lost to the French king the duchy of Normandy, whose duke William had conquered England, along with Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. King John was nominally still the head of Aquitaine, but only because his famous mother Eleanor still lived. Most of Aquitaine’s nobles made quiet peace with the French king. And as soon as Eleanor died, John lost Aquitaine as well.

Just to be clear how great a disaster this was: John lost about half of his country. He went from being king of a vast domain connected by the sea, to being confined to England with a domain that ended at the coast. No wonder no English king since has been named John.

In about 250 BCE, a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii first settled Paris
on the Île de la Cité. In 52 BCE, the Parisii settlement was conquered
by the Romans and their general, Julius Caesar.

The Romans named the city
Lutetia, from an earlier Greek name
Lukotokía, whose origin is unknown. But the renaming did not stick. So the city of lights is known today as Paris, the name of its first founders, from over 2,200 years ago.

The coin is a Parisii gold coin, by the way. It dates to the 200s BCE.

The land ceded was relatively small. Still, it was a big change for the people living there! They woke up one day and were suddenly French citizens