The invention of France

Two hours north east of Paris is a famous battlefield. The defeated French leader was called Napoleon, but the battle was not Waterloo. It was Sedan, and lining up against the French, the Prussians. The defeated French leader was Napoleon’s nephew, le petit Napoleon, otherwise known as the emperor Napoleon III. This battle, in 1870, set up the dynamic that led to two world wars. | Audio

In the final Invention of France, Misha Glenny explores a crucial year for all western Europe. France was invaded, Paris bombarded, and Alsace occupied. January 18th 1871, a humiliating event – the proclamation of a new German empire, announced not in Germany but in the Palace of Versailles. Europe would never be the same.

With contributions from Thomas Kielinger, Jonathan Fenby, ambassador Sylvie Bermann, Andrew Hussey, Jeremy Black and Agnew Poirier. Plus contrubutions from Emile Zola’s novel, Le Debacle.

The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde. LISTEN to the BCC program

Falconetti as Joan of Arc

Je t’aime: The Story of French Song

The problem with many music documentaries is that they suffer from over-familiarity. In a bid to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, they end up spreading themselves too thinly on an area already well covered. Viewers tune in and, largely speaking, have their knowledge reaffirmed while they hang around on the off-chance that there may be some newly uncovered archive footage to make their investment worthwhile. There are notable exceptions to this, of course, and generally they crop close on their subject, or as in the case of Je t’aime: The Story of French Song, focus on an area that has been long neglected – indeed by many outside France it has simply been dismissed. […]

Source: Je t’aime: The Story of French Song, BBC Four | The Arts Desk