• The Sad Life of Louis-Charles

    Born March 27, 1785 to King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis-Charles should have had a charmed life.  He was the second son and named the Duke of Normandy until the death of his older brother, upon which he became the Dauphin or heir to the throne.  Madame de Rambaud was his governess and she cared for him as if he were her own.  Although he had a governess, Louis-Charles was still close to his mother.  He was described as a bright, good looking child, “…his blue eyes, aquiline nose, elevated nostrils, well-defined mouth, pouting lips, chestnut hair parted in the middle and falling in thick curls…

  • The Paris Catacombs

    The city of Paris is built on top of rich Lutetian limestone deposits, and it was this stone that built most of the city.  This stone had been quarried since the time of the Romans, mostly from suburban locations away from the main areas where people lived.  Mines were haphazard and not locations were not documented, and once the vein of stone was quarried the mines were abandoned and forgotten.  As the city of Paris grew, people ran into the mines when they were building with disastrous results.  A series of mine cave-ins in 1774 highlighted the undermining of the Left Bank.  So what to do?  Fill them with bones!…

  • Bastille Day

    Following the seven years’ war which ended in 1763, and subsequent participation in the American Revolutionary war beginning 1775, France was left in an extremely precarious financial position. Consistently poor harvests for several years prior had added to the economic burden the country felt. By the beginning of 1789, she was bordering on bankruptcy. The King, alarmed to hear that the lower classes were growing disillusioned and speaking of revolt, was advised By Comptroller-General Jacques Necker to increase taxes, and to remove the exemption from taxes on the nobility. This reaction was obviously met with strong reaction by the nobility who were already in the throes of losing the feudal…

  • Madame Tussaud

    Outside of creating some of the most renowned wax sculptures of all time, Madame Tussaud lived in a turbulent time which would eventually lead her to a life she would not have otherwise chosen. The life of Tussaud, while a bit underwhelming, is important to understanding how she became the great success she is today, nearly 150 years after her death. We begin in Strasbourg, France where little Anna Marie Grosholtz came screaming into this world on December 7, 1761 to Anne, a single mother. Tussaud had always been called Marie to prevent confusion since mother and daughter had names that were so closely related. According to Tussaud’s own memoir,…

  • Marie Antoinette – A Queen Fallen From Grace

      At the age of 14 the princess and archduchess of Austria, Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna married the dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste. Born into a life of luxury, the one she married into, was to become synonymous with all that was wrong with French Nobility, and the driving force behind the resulting revolution. But how much of it was true? Life would not end well for this queen and it would all start with the French Revolution, more specifically the storming of the Bastille when she was said to have told the peasants begging her for food, “Let them eat cake”. This is probably the most famous mis-quote we will…