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The Great Courses' "The Great Tours: France Through the Ages"

I recently watched "The Great Tours: France Through the Ages", one of the offerings from The Great Courses, and recommend it highly. There are 24 episodes, each running just over half an hour. I wish the course were longer. The comparable course on Great Britain (see below) has 36 episodes, and France is more than twice the size of Great Britain. Still, there was coverage of (not full episodes on) some places beyond the most obvious, including Montpellier, Albi, Lorient, Quimper, the French Basque Country, Bordeaux and Corsica (full episode).

The instructor is very animated. He was born in Wales but spent some summers in France as child and taught there for a year. I don't think French speakers will cringe when he's called upon to say a French word.

There's a good bit of time spent on wine- and food-related topics, which will be a pro or a con, depending on the traveler's preferences. There's also discussion of such general topics as the country's love of sports and the performing arts and its willingness to spend money on quality architecture. The material (or at least the Paris content) was filmed after the Notre Dame fire, so the information is quite current.

I streamed the course by using my library’s Kanopy account. Kanopy was discussed in this earlier forum thread: Kanopy streaming service - Rick Steves Travel Forum. The Great Courses can also be purchased individually from the company itself ( Alternatively (and I think more cheaply), one can stream them through The Great Courses Plus via a membership (free trial available through Jan 4) or subscribe to the company's offerings through Amazon Prime (and possibly other pathways?). It appears there’s a one-week free trial now being offered through Amazon Prime.

I’ve also watched three other specifically travel-related courses: “The Great Tours: England, Scotland and Wales”, “The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, Athens to Istanbul” and "The Great Tours: Experiencing Medieval Europe". All were very good.

Posted by
207 posts

I've also watched the France Great Tours as well as the Medieval Europe Great Tours through the Great Courses and loved them. Another way to get them for a very reasonable price is to go to the Great Courses website, sign up for their emails, and then wait for the discount offers to come in, and they do with great regularity - I've been able to buy these as streaming video for $35 each that way. Plus they do have other very interesting European history courses that I've found helpful when planning some of my trips.

Posted by
335 posts

Thanks for sharing your experiences with "The Great Courses", as well as the info regarding Kanopy. I utilize the local library frequently for ebooks and curbside pickup but didn't realize I have Kanopy access until today. Looking forward to Great Courses and some movies!

Posted by
22554 posts

I didn't know about Kanopy, either, until someone else posted about it here. Now that I do know, I'm trying to tip others off. There are tons of European movies available, also.

Posted by
7010 posts

I have watched quite a few Great Courses through my local public library, but they have limited offerings -- mostly self help -- I have already viewed their history and travel offerings. Great Courses seems to be having a sale right now where you can enroll for 10$ a month which is quite reasonable for the quality and diversity of content -- so am trying that.