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Charles de Gaulle Airport

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French Fashion

France is famous for its fashion industry and has many of the world’s top fashion and clothing design houses. Two of the brands, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, are featured in the book, but you may also recognize brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Hermes. Chanel was founded in 1910 by Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, and first sold hats. Yves Saint Laurent started his career at the Dior house, but moved out on his own. Fashion has been an important part of the French economy, even as early as the 15th century. Haute couture (fancy dressmaking) originated in the 1860s, and the design houses of Paris became the best place to buy clothing for the world’s elite. Paris is the global center of the fashion industry.

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Haute Cuisine

It’s hard to mention France without defining haute cuisine. Haute cuisine means high-quality cooking following French tradition. It requires premium ingredients and excellent chefs, and is served in top establishments. French agriculture and food are strictly regulated to assure quality and maintenance of traditional methods. The international authority on French haute cuisine is Le Cordon Bleu, which offers training in these strict standards.



This is the name for a French bakery. The most famous French bread is the baguette, which is a long skinny loaf of bread. Baguette is almost always an accompaniment to a meal, but can also be a meal in itself on a picnic with a little butter and cheese or cured meat. Another common French bread is the pain de campagne, which is a thick-crusted bread made of several different types of flour



This is the name for a French pastry shop and for the pastries. Many visitors to France cite pâtisseries as one of their favorite things about France. There are so many wonderful French pâtisseries that we could write a whole book just about them! However, a few favorite pâtisseries that you could try: mille- feuille (a layered pastry), macaron (almond pastries with ganache center), and madeleine (a buttery cookie you can make yourself with the recipe in this book).



While a viennoiserie and a pâtisserie are often grouped together, there is a distinction made by Le Cordon Bleu between the traditional French pastries and the flaky breakfast pastries that originated in Vienna, Austria. The famous French croissant falls in this category, as does brioche. The Vienna- style pastry joined the Parisian scene in 1838 when Boulangerie Viennoise opened and bridged the gap between boulangerie and pâtisserie.



If the thought of eating snails has you making a face and saying, “Yuck!” we (and many French people) beg to differ. Most commonly served in a hot butter, garlic, and parsley sauce with fresh French bread, escargot are a special treat in France, especially for holidays. There is a legend that the visit of Tsar Alexander from Russia prompted snails’ inclusion in haute cuisine. When the Tsar arrived in Burgundy by surprise, the chef, Antonin Carême, had nothing to offer except snails from the garden. As the legend goes, he spiced them up with butter, garlic, and parsley, and Escargot Bourgogne became famous because the Tsar enjoyed the dish so much.



Fromage is the French word for cheese. Did you know France has more than 1,000 different cheeses? That’s a lot of cheese! Cheese is an important part of French cuisine. It's also big business as French cheeses are in demand around the world. Cheese is often eaten after the main course, instead of or in addition to a sweet dessert. France marks the quality ofits cheeses with the initials AOC, and controls cheese making to ensureit is produced in exactly the right way with the right materials. Examples

of French cheeses are Roquefort, Comté, Camembert de Normandie, and Beaufort. As some traditional French cheeses are made with raw milk(not pasteurized), it isn’t possible to buy them outside of France. For these cheeses, you must go to France!


Different Ways to Write and Greet

Some of the numbers and how time is expressed might appear differently to you. Not only do countries have different languages, but they can also write numbers differently and use different punctuation! The French "1" confused me the first time I visited, and you can often see time expressed with a period instead of a colon to separate hours and minutes. It's one of many ways we are different, but the same! In France, one often greets a friend with one or more cheek (or air) kisses. It can be tricky to know how many, but follow the locals' lead!

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Les Voitures

The cars in the book are drawn in the style of several iconic French car designs, such as the Citroën 2CV, DS, and C6. The 2CV was Citroën’s version of the Volkswagen Beetle. You can still see them on the roads of France today, as they made 9 million cars from 1948 to 1990! The French automotive industry is strong in the global market, with brands Renault and Peugeot, in addition to Citroën. Unfortunately, you can't buy a French car in North America unless you go to Mexico!


Normandy Dairy

The Normandy region of France is known as the land of milk because of its rich grass and oceanic climate. They even have their own breed of cow, the Normande, which is known for its high-quality milk for butter, cream, and cheese. In fact, many countries around the world offer French butter from Normandy if they have any foreign butter. Agriculture is a major industry in France, and the Normandy dairy farms are an important part of that business.

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Mont Saint-Michel

This island abbey is just off of France’s northwest coast and was founded in the eighth century. It is a short distance (about 1 km or 0.6 miles) from the mainland and was quite secure, protected by the dramatic tides. The legend is told that Saint Michael appeared in 708 to the Bishop of Avranches and instructed him to build his church on the rocky island. The island and the Romanesque-style abbey built on it were important throughout history. By the time of the French Revolution, it was converted to a prison. In 1874, it was classified as a historical monument, and large renovation work was done. During World War II, it was both a lookout and a tourist destination. It was liberated on August 1, 1944, and served as a prison again. In 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Métro (Métropolitain)

This rapid transit system for the Paris metro area is 227 km (141 miles) long and mostly underground. At publication, it has 16 train lines that cover 308 stations. It is the second busiest metro system in Europe (after Moscow) and the tenth in the world, carrying an average of 4.1 million passengers per day. The first line opened in 1900 for the World’s Fair, and it continues to expand today. The unique entrances and signs (as featured in the book) are influenced by Art Nouveau (a popular art style from the 1890s through 1910).



TGV is the abbreviation for Train à Grande Vitesse, which means high speed train. The TGV is the electric intercity train in France that connects many locations. It was part of large energy-saving developments in

the 1970s and 1980s. The first high-speed train connected Paris to the southeastern city of Lyon. Now the TGV connects many major cities (Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Rennes, Montpelier) as well as countries (Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.) From 2007 to 2013, France had the fastest scheduled rail service in the world at 280 km/h (174 mph.) Standard trains on several routes now can reach a speed up to 320 km/h (200 mph.)

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Gallic Rooster

The Latin word “gallus” translates to both rooster and person from Gaul. (Gaul was a region in ancient Europe that includes modern-day France and parts of Belgium.) For this reason, the rooster has long been an important symbol for the people of France. Throughout France's long history, the rooster has appeared on coins, flags, and sport uniforms.

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Eiffel Tower

More people have visited the Eiffel Tower than any other monument in the world. It was built for the 1889 World's Fair and has come to be a symbol of France. It is the tallest structure in Paris at 330 meters (1083 feet.) Until the Chrysler Building was built, it was the tallest structure in the world for a short period of time! The tower has three levels, with restaurants on two.

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Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe, also known as Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (the Triumphal Arch of the Star), is one of the most recognized places in Paris. It is on the Place Charles de Gaulle. It gets the name of “Star” from the 12 streets that radiate from it. The Arch honors those who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. You can go on top of the Arch and watch traffic in the roundabout below; it is never-ending entertainment to watch Parisians and visitors try to navigate the massive traffic circle!


The Louvre

This is one of the most famous art museums in the world, but did you know it has also been a fortress and a palace for kings? It started housing art when King Louis XIV moved the royal palace to Versailles, but kept his royal art collection in place. During the French Revolution, it was opened to the public to share the country's art collection, which continues to grow. The Louvre is the world's most visited museum and many visitors come for its most famous pieces: the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. The "new" entrance, opened in 1993 is through the glass pyramid designed by M. Pei.

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Tour de France

The Tour de France is one of the most famous bike races in the world. It started in 1903 and runs annually. The race follows a different route each year (about 3500 km or 2200 miles), but it always includes the Alps and the Pyrenees, and it almost always ends on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.



Bayeux is a town in Normandy that is most famous for a tapestry depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066. It is believed that the tapestry was made in the 11th century. While its survival after all this time is miraculous in itself, its size is also quite amazing. It is 68 meters long (224 feet) and 70 cm (20 inches) wide! We can only wonder who made this amazing work, as it isn’t documented.

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Gare Saint-Lazare

This train station was the first train station in Paris (opened in 1837) and is now one of seven major rail terminals. It serves the western suburbs of Paris and is the gateway to Normandy with the Paris-Le Havre railway which has TGV, intercity, and regional trains. The station is the third busiest in France, serving 290,000 passengers every day! Besides being busy, it was also an inspiration for the 19th century Impressionistic artists, as several lived nearby and featured the station in their work. You can find paintings of Gare Saint-Lazare by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, and Gustave Caillebotte in art museums around the world.

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