'The Amazing Race' Pit Stop Fiver: Oh, France...
'The Amazing Race' Pit Stop Fiver: Oh, France...
This Sunday on The Amazing Race, we're leaving Germany with a hangover and dropping ourselves to a World War I reenactment in France. Ahh, France, the country known for romance and sweeping meadows, for Francois Truffaut and Carla Bruni. This artsy, quaint, modern little country that inspired the drive-thru staple, French fries, is where we're heading next. Could be nice, except perhaps for whoever gets U-turned.

As always, I'm on hand to give you five slightly interesting, definitely subjective facts about our host country this week. As usual, Wikipedia's my guide... and perhaps the forums, too. I should've mentioned I needed some guidance to set you up for the place where Jordan and Jeff will get a speed bump. Here goes:

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France comes from Frank, but Frank comes from... Nobody really knows. Experts said the name France came from the Latin word "Francia", loosely "land of the Franks". While the Franks refer to the people that lived in what is now modern France, the origins of that name is disputed. Some say it's a Germanic word for "free", while some say it came from "frankon", an ancient javelin-like sport.

The baguette is French, but not entirely. Sure, we call it French bread sometimes, but the baguette traces its roots to the pain viennois, a type of bread baked in Vienna, Austria in the mid-19th century. The baguette was developed when an Austrian official brought a deck oven used to back the pain viennois to France.

They did try to move the Eiffel Tower. When Paris' most iconic landmark was being built in the 1880s, citizens thought it was an eye sore. You all know it was supposed to stand for only twenty years or so, only for it to represent the so-called city of love. Did you know, though, that there were plans to move the tower to, of all places, Montreal in Quebec? There were secret negotiations between the two city governments to temporarily move the Eiffell Tower to Canada for the World Expo there in 1967. It didn't push through because the folks maintaining the landmark feared the French government wouldn't return the whole thing to its original location.

Those tricky, tricky Lille folk. Judging from the forums this week we're heading to the town of Lille, whose history in World War I was pretty interesting. The city only had one cannon to defend itself, but they tricked the enemy into believing that they have more artillery! It took a while for the Germans to realize they were tricked. They eventually invaded the city for four years before being liberated by the Brits in 1918.

And one of the things that make me smile silly: chanson music. Surely you've watched Ratatouille, and heard the theme song? That's chanson. Traditional French music that goes back to the Middle Ages, it's different from more mainstream pop music because chanson follows the rhythm of the French language, making it distinctly French. And since I mentioned Ratatouille, I might as well link you to its theme song. See?

Hopefully those facts helped you learn more about France. Admittedly, the only revealtn fact to the race is probably the one about Lille tricking the Germans. There is, after all, a war reenactment. Unless they'll fight with baguettes...


(Image courtesy of Benh Lieu Song/Wikipedia)



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