Patron Saints of France


It was St George’s Day this week, and that made me think about the patron saints of France, of which there are four.

The first, as we know, is St Joan of Arc, who I wrote about briefly a week or two ago:-

Click here for Joan of Arc

… and the others are St Martin of Tours, St Remigius and Ste Therese of Lisieux.

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Saint Clothilde – history in France


Yesterday I was looking at a sketch I did for one of my children’s history classes when he was little (the school had no text books**) and that in turn made me look up Saint Clothilde.  There is a dirth of information about her, and what little there is was written by Gregoire de Tours (539-594), a great historian of France in the 6th Century.

Clothilde was cannonized basically because she converted her husband, Clovis, to Christianity and all their five children baptised as Christians.  She was a princess, the daughter of the king Gondioc of what is now the Burgundy area of France.  She had several brothers and sisters and, according to Gregoire de Tours, lots of murders and dastardly deeds were done, to include the killing of both Clothilde’s parents by one of her brothers.

Clothilde and her sister, Croma, went in to a nunnery when they were still very young, one assumes to escape the murders.  There they lived exceptionally pious lives.  It is not clear why Clothilde came out of the nunnery to marry Clovis, who was king of the a large part of northern France (or Gaul as it was then).  She was aged 28, very old for marriage at that time, and it appears that her good looks attracted the attention of an ambassador to Clovis, who in turn made the introductions.  Clovis was a brilliant military leader and defeated the Wisigoths (now Germans) who were installed in the north eastern part of Gaul, which in turn made him king of the Franks.  His capital city changed from Soissons to Paris.

Clothilde was involved in the building of several abbeys which are today historic monuments.  She died aged 80 – exceptionally old for the day – and is buried at the Abbey of the Saint Apostles in Paris.

Click here for the story  **

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. Her books are on Amazon and Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries.  For more about Catherine Broughton, to include her entertaining sketches and blogs, go to

Trip reports, hotel and book reviews and so on…from the point of view of the client


The aim behind reviews is somewhat forgotten in the modern frenzy for putting things on the internet.  We now have a voice that can carry all over the world, and there is a good side to this, and a bad.

The aim, when all this started, was so that we could warn people if we had a genuinely dreadful experience.  That is how it began, starting with cheap hotels in Spain and people who came home, having paid for a holiday, disappointed and angry because the hotel was only half-built, or there was no running water or the WC was three floors down and so on.  Some of these early experiences were truly horrid, and as a direct result of it the reviewing system was born.

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Trip reports, hotel and book reviews and so on…from the point of view of the trade


Over the winter I have received a fair few e-mails from owners of hotels, restaurants and villas, authors of books, owners of small businesses, and even a composer!   The e-mails had two common factors running through them and that was about black-listing people and about people who write nasty reports.  So, I think the simplest thing for me to do here is simply answer the main questions as they pop up & in no particular order of importance:-


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Vicotr Hugo continued- demain des l’aube


After I had finished yesterday’s item about Victor Hugo, I thought I should have included his lovely poem, written just after Leopoldine died.  The translation is my own – I daresay there is an official translation somewhere – with apologies to all concerned.  (There should be a grave accent on that e in the title – è – for scholars of French who are screeching at me, but not for love nor money can I persuade the “insert symbol” whatsit to obey me …)  Anyway, a heart-wrenching poem:-


Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

Tomorrow, at dawn, at the hour when the countryside is white,

I will leave.  You see, I know that you are waiting for me.

I will go via the forest. I will go via the mountain.

I cannot live far from you for long.

I will walk with my eyes fixed on my thoughts

Without seeing anything else, without hearing a sound,

Alone, unknown, my back bent, my hands crossed,

Sad, and for me day will be like night.

I will watch neither the gold of the falling evening,

Nor the sails in the distance going towards Harfleur*,

And when I arrive I will put on your tomb

A bunch of green holly and heather in flower.



* Normandy (France) coastal town

French Writers Part 5- Victor Hugo


I wasn’t going to write anything about Victor Hugo, judging him to be sufficiently well-known, but this morning something on the internet made me change my mind.  It was a discussion about theatre and somebody had stated:-  “les Miserables“, meaning “the miserable ones”   It does not.  Les miserables means “the poor”.  And that in turn made me think about Victor Hugo (1802-1885), quite possibly the greatest French writer of all time.

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French Writers- Voltaire


A few million years ago, when I was a student, I read “Candide”.  I can’t remember whether I read it in French or in English, but I do remember commenting that I thought it was a really stupid story, and getting in to considerable trouble with my Voltaire-loving lecturer.  I started leafing through some Voltaire again a few years ago, but reading it is too much like hard work these days, and the interest has gone.

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