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The rampant ambition of Blanchard the balloonist, from Petit Andelys

Jean Pierre François Blanchard was born in Petit Andelys, the second son of an odd-job man, on July 4, 1753.  Perhaps the vast remains of Chateau Gaillard that tower above the town inspired him to the possibilities of human endeavour.  Whatever the cause, Jean Pierre was destined to go down, sometimes literally, in history. The…

An interview with Claude Monet 1924; The water lilies of Giverny

An old book by Marc Elder gives a remarkable insight into the creation of Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, as he wrote it after visiting Giverny and interviewing the great man himself.  Their meeting was in 1924, just two years before Monet died age 86, on 5 December 1926. In our extract today we hear about…

From Radeval to Hampshire in England; the story of a Normandy manoir

This is a postcard of the Manoir des Picarts de Radeval, also known locally as Le Grande Maison and in most history books as Manoir de Radeval. Radeval is just a mile north of Les Andleys in the Eure, but to match it we had to go to Hampshire in England. All because a 19th…

The slandering of Princesse d’Harcourt

  Pretty and fair with skin like cream, Françoise de Brancas Princesse d’Harcourt lived in that strange world Versailles, when the Sun King Louis XIV ruled. He demanded his aristocrats paid court to him in his glorious over stuffed castle and so there they lived, squeezed into every last corner and cupboard. Privacy was unthinkable. Which…

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