Join Us in France show

Join Us in France

Summary: Each week professional tour guide Elyse Rivin and podcast producer Annie Sargent will take you on a tour of a specific monument or site in France. They both live in France and have been friends for a long time. The podcasts will cover Paris (all neighborhoods and major monuments such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Latin Quarter, the Marais, the Opera House, the Champs Elysees, the shopping areas, etc.) as well as beautiful sites, villages, and places all over France starting with Chartres, Versailles, the Champagne area, the chateaux of the Loire Valley, Provence, the Dordogne, the wine country in the South, Carcassonne, and many more. These podcasts bring you insights into travel to France, French culture, French language tips for the busy traveler, as well as transportation in and around France. Annie and Elyse will talk about hotels, restaurants, wine, cheese, food, and anything that has to do with life in France that interests them and that might interest you as well. Elyse is an American who has been living in France for 20 years and France is both her home and her passion. She's an art historian and tour guide who has worked and traveled all over the country. Annie is French but lived in the US for 18 years before moving back home to France. They both want to share the best of France with you as the country they know and love.

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  • Artist: Elyse Rivin and Annie Sargent: Sharing the Best of France
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 Episode 6 Notre Dame #3 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:14

New Episode of Join Us in France: Notre Dame the Guided Tour Elyse walks you around Notre Dame, points out all the things you should not miss, lets you enjoy the stunning beauty. This is the same walk around tour she gives to her real visitors. You are now fully prepared for you Notre Dame visit. I you want to keep this podcast for the day you are going to visit Notre Dame, subscribe in iTunes and download this episode. Then you can keep it on your phone for as long as you'd like, ready for your visit. As always you can listen on the website as well. Show notes after the fold. Enjoy! CORRECTION: It's 387 steps up the tower, NOT 837, it feels like 837 however, be warned! 1:00 If you don't have 1 to 2 hours to spend at Notre Dame, at the very least go look at the facade, don't skip it, walk around the outside a little bit. 2:00 You're standing in front of Notre Dame, you're on the Esplanade or Parvis. Take a look at the three front doors. All of it has been recently cleaned up, it's nice clean stone, but the original church was all color, all painted, the background of the 3 doorways was all pure gold, so was the background of the massive statues. 5:45 Move off to the left and go off to the side street along the side of the church. This is where the line forms to go up the tower, more on that later. You will see some of the original medalions and you will see hint of color here and there. Go all the way down along the left side of the church until you get to the Notre Dame park (open until dark). Turn around and see the whole choir and the back side. 7:45 You can see the flying buttresses from the back of the church, you must go see all of that. Great photo opportunities too. Walk all the way around the church. See the little spire on the roof with the copper statues, they are green by now and look almost alive. 11:20 The city of Paris has renovated this lovely park in the back of the church (that's where the bathroom is too). Take it all in from the outside and come around to the front of the church. 12:30 The Esplanade or Parvis. The word "parvis" comes from the word paradise, so as you stand in front of Notre Dame you are contemplating paradise. 14:00 On the Esplanade you will find a massive statue of Charlemagne. You can also see the plaque on the ground that marks the spot from where all distances were measured before the invention of the GPS. 16:00 After seeing the outside, go look at the inside. 16:30 Practical information: entrance to the church is free, opens from 8 am till 6:45 pm, they close an hour later on week-ends, but they close it. You can enter the Treasure of the Cathedral 1/3 of the way down on the right side. Open 9 to 6, it is free. 18:00 The tower is 837 steps, you need good knees and good lungs. Entrance fee is 8€, open starting at 10, stays open 11pm in the summer only, closes at 7:45 the rest of the year. There's always a line, go early. You get to see the bells, you get a great view, you see all sorts of details. 19:30 Archeological Crypt on the Parvis, entrance fee also unless you have a museum pass. 20:30 Notre Dame is on Ile de la Cité, right in the center. If you stay nearby walk there. List of subway lines and subway stations nearby. Many buses also. It's an easy place to get to. 23:00 Food: lots of places to eat nearby if you wish, there are cafés and restaurants and snack stands that will serve you lots of food to eat in or on one of the benches. Service is fast and efficient, not more expensive than places further away, 12€-16€ for a simple meal. 25:45 If you need a bathroom do it at the restaurant where you're eating. Otherwise go back to the back-end of Notre Dame to the park and use the free clean facilities behind the church. Open until sun down. 27:15 Turn off your flash for inside photos. Your flash can't help you unless you're shooting something very close to you (within 3-5 feet).

 Episode 5 Notre Dame #2 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:06

Notre Dame de Paris: Where the Beheaded Stand for Centuries! What you'll hear in the show (click "Play in new window" above the photo): 1:50 Notre Dame is a huge limestone church: two towers 227 feet high with several levels inside them that come to a flat top. 4:10 Notre Dame bells and how some of them were replaced in 2013. 5:45 Three entrances into the Cathedrals and each has a theme. One of them is The Last Judgment. The devil on the bottom right hand-side (facing the church) is cheating! The carvings tell stories that were very clear to Middle Ages people (just like cartoons are to us today), so it's good to have a guide to explain nowadays. 10:00 The Kings on the upper part of the façade. Each about 12 feet tall. 11:20 Most of the Western façade of Notre Dame was either restored or replaced in the 19th century because in the 1790s ill informed revolutionaries who hated the monarchy thought these were kings of France and desecrated them. Those are actually biblical kings, not kings of France. 12:50 Major renovation of Notre Dame in the late 1800s based on drawings on the 1600s. But there are still parts of the church that are from the 1100s and 1200s. 14:15 On the inside Notre Dame is 415 feet long and 157 feet wide, it is very large. One of the innovations of Notre Dame is that they were the first to create those huge rose windows. The two rose windows are 42.9 feet in diameter and are made up of millions of little bits of glass because each piece is a couple of inches wide only. 16:40 The north rose window is the one that has original glass (that's the one to left side of the church if standing outside facing the church), the other side had to be renovated extensively. But it's impossible to tell they did such a wonderful job. 19:30 Gargoyles! They were invented at Notre Dame and are now found everywhere. They were invented to serve the function of a rain pipe in order to limit rain wear and tear. Why are gargoyles monsters? To scare away evil. 22:15 There are also Chimeras on Notre Dame, not the same as Gargoyles, they serve no function other than being a monster that keeps evil spirits away. Those have become very iconic of Notre Dame as well. 23:15 To prevent the roof from collapsing they invented flying buttresses at Notre Dame. These are architectural arches that hold the Cathedral up. This is also a Notre Dame innovation. 26:30 The inside of Notre Dame. It's a busy church, there are lots of people. Dress modestly even in the summer. Entrance is free, just like all churches in France. You can take pictures without a flash. 29:00 Go down one of the side isles, look at all the side chapels, stop at the transept (where the church takes the shape of a cross), you can now see the rose windows from the inside and see all the color. 30:00 There are a lot of details that you may find interesting as you walk around, but the idea is to get a feeling for the size of the church, the volume. Stop whenever something catches your attention, work your way through and around, taking your time. 32:30 When you come back out you'll have a lasting impression of what medieval architectural detail was like. Go to and leave us a review in iTunes, thank you!

 Episode 4 Notre Dame #1 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:03

Notre Dame de Paris 20 Million Visitors Per Year, a Historical Background 2:00 Where Notre Dame is located. 3:00 Notre Dame is the head church for Paris today, but the original cathedral on this site was called Saint Etienne. Why they upgraded from Saint Etienne to Notre Dame. How the new church was commissioned. Why there are so many churches in France called Notre Dame? 6:00 Why is it so important to visit Notre Dame de Paris? What makes it so special? A very innovative church built as a landmark and incredibly beautiful. Even if you only have one day in Paris, you should see it. 8:00 They started to build this church in 1163, we know who commissioned and paid for it, but we don't know who designed it or who built it. All the work was done by hand and everything took a long time. The church was finished and functional in 1250. 11:00 Why such a big church? People lived in precarious conditions, having a massive church nearby gave them confidence. None of the people that started to build it saw it finished. Notre Dame was built for eternity. 13:30 In the 1100s Paris was the biggest city in Europe, there were about 50,000 people there, which is a lot for the Middle Ages. Those were prosperous days for Paris. 16:00 People had never seen anything that big before, this cathedral held them in awe. It still has that same effect on people today. 18:30 What does the word Gothic mean? Nany things! 22:30 Most people didn't like the Gothic style much and they tried to get rid of it, even to the point of tearing down Notre Dame. 23:40 The role of Victor Hugo in preserving Notre Dame. 26:00 Gothic style defined. Thank you listeners and thank you Rémi ! In the comments please let us know what part of France you'd like us to talk about soon.

 Episode 3 The Sainte Chapelle | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 19:52

The Sainte Chapelle, It's Like Walking Into a Kaleidoscope 2:00 Crown of Thorns, is it the real thing? 3:20 Chapel for the exclusive use of the French King and his family. 4:00 A church built to show off Gothic architecture and stained glass. An opening into paradise. 6:00 Why you should not miss it. A secret formula we cannot reproduce. 8:00 Video that shows you how they keep the stained glass pristine and why they are still there today. 9:30 More beautiful even than Chartres Cathedral. 10:30 The Sainte Chapelle was built to house the Crown of Thorns. 11:30 Practical considerations: How to get to Sainte Chapelle, entrance fees, no photos allowed. What fitness level is required for this visit? There is an elevator but only if reserved ahead of time. This venue only offers guided tours in French, if you want a tour in English arrange it ahead of time. This visit is not ideal for small children. Thank you listeners! In the comments we'd love to know if you've visited the Sainte Chapelle and how it made you feel. This is the place where you line up to get into the Sainte Chapelle on Boulevard du Palais. The Sainte Chapelle itself is inside the courtyard, see next image. On this image you can see that Sainte Chapelle is inside the courtyard.

 Episode 2 Ile de la Cité | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:55

Where Paris Was Born 0:40' In this episode Elyse tells us about Ile de la Cité, the place where Paris was born. First settlers, Romans, a place from which to get a great view of the city. 2:20' Four great monuments to visit here: Notre Dame de Paris, the Sainte Chapelle (stained glass), the archeological crypt in front of Notre Dame de Paris, the Concièrgerie (inspired Disneyland Castles, contains a museum dedicated in part to the French Revolution). Also two parks to visit (including Vert Galant) and a cut flower market. 5:00' Easy visit physically, everything is flat. The only difficulty is the tower of Notre Dame de Paris where the hunchback lived and worked. Watch out for narrow stair cases in Medieval buildings! 6:30' Where to go take photographs. The foot bridges around Ile da la Cité. 7:30' How to find a clean bathroom on Ile de la Cité. 9:15' Where to eat on Ile de la Cité. 11:12' Bridge that takes you to Ile Saint Louis. What to see on Ile Saint Louis. Berthillon ice cream. 13:43' Parting words, go to to ask a question or add some information about Ile de la Cité you'd like to share with the community. Also please leave us a review in iTunes, it encourages us greatly! Thank you Rémy for your music! Thank you listeners! In the comments section could you tell us if you've visited France before? Where did you go? To recreate this map for yourself go to and enter "Ile de la Cite".

 Episode 1 Introduction | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:57

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Cheese? 1:30 Annie and Elyse's backgrounds. 6:30 Stinky cheese anecdote: Boulette d'Avesnes. 8:40 Why do we podcast? To inspire listeners to take a trip to France. You can listen to the podcast while you plan your trip or while visiting France, which is easier than carrying a guide book around. 10:00 We'll talk about art, history, food, wine, regional French specialties, style, how to find a good hotel, getting around, customs of French people, specific monuments/places to visit, public transportation, etiquette in restaurants, and much more. 14:00 Give listeners clues how to look at things, how to appreciate works. Help listeners get the most out of their visit. Don't just "do" the Louvre, experience it, learn the secret stories and things you'll remember forever. 15:45 Format of the podcast: We are planning on podcasts of 15 to 30 minutes, with occasionally a shorter language or cultural tip. They will all be in the same feed, subscribe to get all of them. 17:00 We may get listeners who want to move to France, we will give them tips, although that's not the primary purpose of the podcast. 18:00 On you will find links to all the places we mentioned, as well as PDFs for items that need to be looked at rather than listened to, maps, etc. 19:00 Travel good surprises and bad surprises. 21:40 A spoiler about the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. 25:00 A delightful travel surprise in Le Marais. 27:00 Upcoming podcasts: Ile de la Cité, Notre Dame Cathedral, La Sainte Chapelle. 28:00 Listener Feedback: Please talk back to us! Enter a comment on or leave us a review in iTunes or BOTH :-) 30:00 Musical Credit: Rémy the musical engineer, thank you Rémi! Thank you for listening to our first podcast. We want to build a community of Francophiles who enjoy travel and want to share tips and recommendations. Please tell us where you live in the comments, we'd love to get to know our audience a little bit!


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