1. French Toast
If you celebrate the French Bastille Day and you’re a true blue French
I have a burning question
Did they invent the French Toast, or not?
Apparently the French toast was not invented in France.
In fact, French toast was around way… before France even existed as a country.
Word is, an American named Joseph French was the one who came up with the brilliant idea of soaking stale bread in a tasty milk and egg mixture before frying it in oil or butter
But because he’s supposedly bad at English,
he left out the apostrophe so it became the French Toast instead of French’s Toast
Well I guess we’ll never know the exact origins of this terrific tasting treat
All I know is that it tastes great with a generous sprinkle of icing sugar and cinnamon!
2. Pricing Strategy for Coffee
I don’t know how you order your coffee
But I usually go “Hello!, Iced Mocha please, thanks”
And if I did that in France, I’ll get my coffee at a huge discount
Don’t believe me?
Try it… the next time you’re in Paris
Apparently more and more French cafes are adopting a tiered pricing strategy to improve lousy customer attitude
Rude, stressed out and busy lunch customers can sometimes pay up to double the price of a cup of coffee!
What started out as a joke is turning to be a powerful pricing tool to drive and direct positive customer behaviour
Maybe similar perks could be given to stressed out, busy and rude Singaporean customers to incentivise better behaviour as well
3. Free Men, film
Here’s an untold “Oscar Schindler” story that was left out of history books
That is… until the 2011 French film “Free Men” brought it to light
Apparently during the Second World War, Muslims gave sanctuary to French Jews living in Nazi-occupied Paris by giving them Muslim IDs
The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris not only helped the Jews escape the Nazis but also hid Christians and resistance fighters in its underground caverns
But because saving lives was largely spontaneous and instinctive, there were no proper records to show exactly how many Jews were saved
But point is, all men lived in peace and that’s really something to remember with pride and gratitude.
4. When Women wore Pants
I didn’t know this before but for the longest time, women who wanted to wear pants in Paris, France had to go to police headquarters to get permission!
Apparently, women have been legally forbidden from wearing pants in the French capital since 1799 because of a law that came out of the French Revolution
A law to prevent women at that time from identifying themselves with the Parisian rebels who wore pants
Overtime, this archaic law was revised twice to make provisions for women to wear pants when they happened to be riding a horse or a bicycle.
Of course there have been numerous attempts to repeal this law
But only France’s Women’s Rights Minister was successful in revoking this 200-year-old law in 2013 citing its incompatibility with France’s constitutional equality rights.
5. Child Beauty Pageants
Whether it’s in the name of fighting and overcoming stage fright or being a princess for a day
Child beauty pageants are banned in France
It’s been suggested that these pretty parades that feature very young contestants are corrupting these under 16 girls through the use of heels, short dresses, wigs, makeup, swimsuits and spray tans
And anyone who tries to enter children into illegal pageants or run underground shows themselves are liable to face jail terms of up to 2 years and a steep thirty thousand euros fine.
Truth is… nobody wants their kids to grow up superficial, and shallow
Deep down, we all wanna be valued for who we are on the inside, don’t you?
6. French Baroque Architecture
If you have a fascination with European architecture then you must make it point to visit the Palace of Versailles (vair-sy)
The epitome of French Baroque Architecture – largely influenced by the monarchs and the church from the end of the 16th Century to the dawn of the 18th Century
More than just an artform, French baroque architecture is characterised by curves, irregularities and embellishments that give the feeling of constant movement.
The Palace of Versailles was easily the grandest and most imitated residential building in the 17th Century
What first started out as a humble hunting lodge was slowly transformed by each of the three French kings who lived there until the French Revolution
The Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartments, the Museum of the History of France were some of thee enhancements added to make it as beautiful as it is today.
7. Luxembourg Garden
This was in 1612… a lonely soul…miles away from her hometown Florence, Italy, mourning the death of her husband and embroiled in palace politics
The Queen of France, Maria de’ Medici, often sought solace in the luscious lawns, tree-lined promenades and flourishing flowerbeds of the Luxembourg Garden fashioned after the Boboli Garden in Florence
The park, which covers 23 hectares, was also home to the picturesque Medici Fountain – a popular spot for locals and tourists alike today
Featured prominently in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the Luxembourg Garden provides a great break from a busy day
A place where you can catch your breath, and watch puppet shows, mini-sailing-boat races and kids on pony rides!
And if you look hard enough, you can even catch a glimpse of thee Eiffel Tower while snacking on your sandwich!
8. Shakespeare and Company Bookstore (located at Paris’ Left Bank)
How would you like to spend hours in a quaint little bookshop just reading and getting lost in your favourite book?
You don’t even have to worry when it gets dark, cuz there’s a cozy kitchenette with a gas stove and running water and a warm little bed on which you could spend the night?
That’s just a glimpse of what’s it’s like to visit Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
The regular and second-hand bookstore, doubling up as a free lending library specialising in English literature, has become quite a popular tourist destination and an iconic feature to look out for in movies like Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris.
Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, the bookstore was originally named “Le Mistral”, but was renamed “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 in honour of Sylvia Beach who founded the original Shakespeare and Company.
Through his bookstore, George hoped to carry on the spirit of Sylvia’s shop that is to reach people from all walks of life and turn them into readers. It’s also become a hub for some of the great expat writers over the years.
Interestingly, the bookstore has sleeping facilities with 13 beds where George claimed that as many as 40,000 people have slept there over the years
9. Musée de la Contrefaçon (Museum of Counterfeiting)
Now, if going to museums is usually top on your travel list
Then when you’re in Paris, you must make time to visit the very interesting Musée de la Contrefaçon or Museum of Counterfeiting
As its name suggests, the museum is a great introduction to the bogus world
It offers a wide-ranging, intriguing and rather disturbing display of fake items right next to the authentic ones
Now according to the museum, 70% of forgeries originate from Southeast Asia, but such cases also occur in the Mediterranean and parts of Europe as well
And strangely enough, the building that houses the Musée de la Contrefaçon is, in itself, a copy of a 17th-century building
The museum also has a separate wing dedicated to copyright crimes where you can find exhibits like pirated DVDs and CDs, fake statuettes, often showing counterfeiting techniques such as the application of acid followed by tinted wax to give bronze a quick shine.
Sometimes it’s really hard to tell them apart, but if you think you can do better?
Then head there and put your power of discernment to the test!
10. Cheese and Wine
Wine and cheese are two of life’s greatest culinary inventions, and finding a perfect match can be a delicious endeavour
All the more reason for you to make a trip down to France, where they offer the best of both worlds
As of 2011, France is the fourth biggest cheese producer in the world with thousands of varieties to choose from
A Frenchman once said, “Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.”
To the French, cheese is more than just a food, it’s a passion
And boy are they passionate about their wines as well
Fact is, France is the biggest wine producer in the world in 2014
A limited edition Balthazar – a massive 12-litre bottle – of Chateaux Margaux 2009 produced in the Medoc to the North of Bordeaux, went on sale in Dubai for over a hundred and twenty thousand pounds!
Although there’s no hard and fast rule when pairing cheese and wine, it’s best if they’re from the same region!
It’s always exciting to watch bodies bent in the most aggressive aerodynamic position humanly possible, with chins practically resting on the handlebars and maneuvering slick, narrow roads on inch-wide tyres
bearing in mind that any debris, any jerky twist of the wheel, would cause the bikes to skid at more than 50 miles an hour throwing the cyclists off the side of a cliff and into oblivion.
It’s equally hard not to talk about the Tour de France especially when we’re celebrating France Bastille Day here on Globetrekker on 963XFM. What started out as a gimmick to boost the sales of sporting newspapers has evolved to what it is today – one of the world’s greatest cycle race.
Every July, cyclists race some 2,000 miles mostly around France and nearby regions in a series of stages over 23 days, with the fastest cyclists at each stage wearing the famous yellow jersey
To find out more about this year’s Tour de France, log on now to letour.com
How would you like to get your cuppa coffee at a fraction of the price?
Now, what’s that one thing to keep in mind when pairing cheese and wine?
And seriously… did the French invent the French toast?
Get the real facts, tips and more when you tune in to Globetrekker!
Take a midday stroll with me Lynette Tan as we take a breather and tour the Luxembourg Garden, Palace of Versailles (vair-sy), Musée de la Contrefaçon and other iconic places
All this week we celebrate France Bastille Day from 12 to 1pm on Expat Radio 96.3XFM
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