Top 5 Stereotypes About the Auvergne

Recently La Montagne, the main newspaper chain covering central France, had a great idea:  interview a group of French tourists arriving in the Auvergne for the first time just as they are getting off the bus, then catch up with them again a few days later to see if their opinions have changed.  The question: “What preconceptions do you have about the Auvergne and its inhabitants?” Jean, a 70-year-old from Paris, said he thinks of Auvergnats as “coal merchants and brasserie owners”.  Denise, also from Paris, said “When you say Auvergne to me, I immediately think of volcanoes and the stinginess of the people.”  The final word came from Bernard, another Parisian: “For me, the Auvergne means ‘prehistoric’”. I’ll come […]

Central France - Cantal - Deep Heart of France

Eiffel – 5 Years BEFORE That Famous Tower

By the late 1800s, Gustave Eiffel was a busy and  well-known engineer, with projects not just in France but across Europe and as far away as Vietnam, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico and Turkey.  His company managed the construction of an astonishing variety of train stations, grand galleries, and bridges all over the world.  And while we all know something about a certain Tower in Paris, one of his most famous projects brought him to the deep heart of France five years before the Tower opened. Gustav Eiffel in 1888 (Source: Public Domain photo by Nadar via Wikimedia Commons) The Viaduc de Garabit was actually the idea of a bridge engineer named Léon Boyer, an interesting character in his own right who […]

Lafayette Cantal Auvergne

Lafayette and the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!   It’s a good time for those of us with an affinity for France and the French to remind ourselves that we likely would not have won our independence without the massive support of France in those earliest days of our Republic. But this particular Fourth of July – with a tense summer of election campaigning ahead of us – it would be easy to think that the cloth of civility and civic virtues written into our founding documents is unraveling.  Seen from inside the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to believe we might be drifting away from the best qualities that make us uniquely “American”. Photo © 2016 Richard Alexander “Not so fast!” says Sarah Vowell.  […]