Believing that the lack of a suitably high test platform was partially to blame for his failures, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He was finally granted permission in early 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on February 4th he made it clear that he intended to jump himself rather than conduct an experiment with dummies. Despite attempts by his friends and spectators to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he crashed into the icy ground at the foot of the tower. The next day, newspapers were full of the story of the reckless inventor and his fatal jump — many included pictures of the fall taken by press photographers who had gathered to witness Reichelt's experiment — and a film documenting the jump appeared in newsreels:
Tag Archives | France
A baby died when a family of 12 leapt from their second floor balcony in Paris claiming they were fleeing the devil. Eight more were injured, some seriously, in the tragedy when they jumped 20 ft into a car park in Paris suburb of La Verriere. The baffling incident occurred when a wife woke to see her husband moving about naked in the room, police said. She began screaming 'it's the devil! it's the devil!', and the man ran into the other room where 11 others adults and children were watching television. One woman grabbed a knife and stabbed the man before others pushed him out through the front door.
La Maupin once scandalized a ball by kissing another woman on the dance floor. She was challenged to a duel by three men, beat them all, and promptly returned to dancing. Jim Burrows is writing a novel about her, and has this account of her life:
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La Maupin, 17th century French swordswoman, adventuress and opera star, was like something out of a novel by Dumas or Sabatini, except for two things.
First she was real, and second few authors would have attributed her exploits to a woman.
Theophile Gautier borrowed her name and a few of her characteristics for the heroine of his novel Mademoiselle De Maupin, but in many ways his character was only a pale imitation of the original. The real Maupin was a complex creature.
Well born and privileged, she knew how to use her influential friends and contacts to get what she wanted or to escape danger, but she was also proud and self-reliant.
Manning Krull at Cool Stuff in Paris has posted some rare pictures of a Hell-themed café that was founded in late 19th century Paris.
Little is known about the establishment, which appears to have operated into the mid-20th century. National Geographic has this to say:
“A hot spot called Hell’s Café lured 19th-century Parisians to the city’s Montmartre neighborhood—like the Marais—on the Right Bank of the Seine. With plaster lost souls writhing on its walls and a bug-eyed devil’s head for a front door, le Café de l’Enfer may have been one of the world’s first theme restaurants. According to one 1899 visitor, the café’s doorman—in a Satan suit—welcomed diners with the greeting, “Enter and be damned!” Hell’s waiters also dressed as devils. An order for three black coffees spiked with cognac was shrieked back to the kitchen as: “Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!”
So public nudity at the beach is OK for French traditionalists, but sex isn’t? John Lichfield reports for The Independent:
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To make a French nudist blush might appear to be a mission impossible. Not at Cap d’Agde, on the Languedoc coast, home to “naked city”, Europe’s largest nudist holiday colony.
A long-simmering war between two tribes of the unclothed – “traditional” nudists and so-called “libertines” or exponents of free sex – exploded into a public protest at the town’s council meeting this week.
Old-fashioned naturists have been complaining for years that Cap d’Agde’s once-sedate nudist quarter has been disfigured by an influx of partner-swapping clubs and raunchy hotels. A flurry of arson attacks on sex clubs two years ago was blamed on low-level terrorism by nudist fundamentalists.
At this week’s Cap d’Agde council meeting, the protests took a more peaceful form.
For a short, nightmarish period in August 1951, dozens of residents of Pont-Saint-Espirit suffered from extreme hallucinations, leading to five deaths. A newly-unearthed memo hints that it was a CIA experiment, the BBC reports:
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On August 26, 1951, postman Leon Armunier was doing his rounds in Pont-Saint-Esprit when he was suddenly overwhelmed by nausea and wild hallucinations.
“It was terrible. I had the sensation of shrinking and shrinking, and the fire and the serpents coiling around my arms,” he remembers.
Leon, now 87, fell off his bike and was taken to the hospital in Avignon. He was put in a straitjacket but he shared a room with three teenagers who had been chained to their beds to keep them under control.
Over the coming days, dozens of other people in the town fell prey to similar symptoms. Doctors at the time concluded that bread at one of the town’s bakeries had become contaminated by ergot, a poisonous fungus that occurs naturally on rye.
As you might expect, the French are more than a little testy about the offending ad, shown at right, part of a BETC EuroRSCG publicity campaign for McDonald’s. Report from Reuters:
A new McDonald’s ad featuring Gallic champion Asterix enjoying a burger and fries has sparked outrage among French comic purists who see it as an insult to their national heritage.
The billboard shows the fearless Gaul and friends celebrating their traditional banquet at the fast-food chain — with Cacofonix the bard tied to a tree outside as usual.
“My childhood hero sacrificed like a wild boar! What next? Tintin eating at Subway?” said one horrified blogger called sirchmallow.
“How ironic, the indomitable Gauls making an advert for the invaders,” was another outraged comment on Twitter.
The ad is of three designed by advertising agency Euro RSCG for McDonald’s’ “Come as you are” campaign…
[continues at Reuters]
By Kumaran Ira for the World Socialist Web Site:
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The decision by French media and political circles to promote the International Monetary Fund managing director and leading Parti Socialiste(PS) member Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a potential presidential candidate is a stark warning to the working class. Though presented as a “left” party to the public, the PS supports the IMF’s anti-working class policies, such as the cuts carried out by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Strauss-Kahn is seen as a major potential contender against the incumbent, conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election. He has given prominent interviews on television and in the print media. An Ipsos-Le Point poll published on May 25 found that 76 percent of right-wing voters and 66 percent of Socialist Party voters back Strauss-Kahn for the presidency. The nomination of the PS candidate for the presidential elections will be decided at a PS-organized primary election to be held in 2011.