"Ah, but you do!" I would reply.
Robin Hood? Richard the Lionhearted? Prince John? Sound familiar?
Religious? How about Saint Patrick?
Or a bit harder now: William the Conqueror? Eleanor of Aquitaine?
Let's take it chronologically.
|Battle of Hastings|
English, which had flourished as a language, now was spoken only by the Common Man, while Latin governed the church and French (in its Norman version) ruled the castle. For example, though English serfs raised and ate pig, by the time it reached the Norman's table it was porc. Sheep became mouton, ox or cow became boeuf, calf was veau and deer, venaison. (Do those French words sound familiar? If not, ask your butcher.)
|Fontevraud - Eleanor on the left, Henry II on the right|
"But what’s this about St. Patrick," you ask? Well, he was born in England, carried off into slavery by Irish raiders, then later after being freed studied at the Abbey of Lérins, on a tiny Mediterranean island off of Cannes. Right next to the island of The Man in the Iron Mask (but that's another story).
|Abbaye de Lérins - Ile Saint-Honorat|
So you see, you may never have set foot in France, or read about its history, but you know a lot about it. You just didn't know you did.
For Richard Lionheart, tour Chinon and its castle.
For Eleanor, Richard and son Henry, visit Fontevrault Abbey near Chinon.
For a touch of Aquitaine, try any Bordeaux vineyard or truffle farm in Périgord.
For St. Patrick, take sunscreen, travel south and hop a ferry from Cannes to St. Honorat Island.
And for you film buffs, watch "The Lion in Winter" - the 1968 version with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn - for a fly-on-the-wall view of some momentous family feuds between King Henry and Queen Eleanor at Chinon Castle.