About the Author

author photo

The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

See All Posts by This Author

French News Guy


(Authors Note: Many readers of THIS POST wanted to know the story behind it. Here ’tis!)

Not “As Seen On TV”

With a title like “French News Guy”, you might reasonably assume that I’m referring to a French Television New Anchor.(“Presenter” for my readers in fish ‘n chip land) And you would be wrong. For a number of reasons. The principal one being that the subject of this rant was born in 1586. Definitely excluding him from receiving any gold news oscars.

But Theophraste Renaudot (Now there’s a mouthful!) has a more important connection with “News.” And not just the French variety. Among other things, he was the inventor of the first newspaper. A weekly gazette cleverly titled: “Le Gazette.” Which first hit the stands in 1631. Not one to let grass grow under his feet, the previous year Theo created the first employment agency – bureau d’adresse et de rencontre – which enabled those looking for work and those who had it to connect.

But Wait – There’s More!

But this wasn’t enough for a “type A” personality like Theo. No sir. In addition to his press credentials M. Renaudot was also a Doctor who offered a series of free medical consultations for the poor. This came about after Cardinal Richelieu, one of the big power players of that era, appointed Theo “General Overseer to the Poor.”

The Big Enchilada

Continuing to oversee these “chartiable endeavours” and create others, in 1637 Renaudot opened the first pawnshop in Paris – “mont-de-piete.” This would eventually morph in todays’ “Credit Municipal de Paris.”

The continuing, and for a change, positive legacy of Theo’s creation was that by granting city banks the exclusive right to accept personal posessions for cash on a “buy-back-possible” system, it eliminated pawnshops, as we know them, in France.

Fast Track To Powerville

So, by know you’re probably wondering, as I was, where this guy came from, and more importantly, how he was able to get high enough up the social/power ladder to perform all these good works.

The Not So Secret Secret

Simple answer. He was born in the same town as Cardinal Richelieu. (Loudon, in, but not on, the Loire.) After returning to Loudon from Montpellier(lifestyle-wise, very bad decision!) where he got his Doctor’s papers, Renaudot met “the C Man.” When Richelieu’s star began to rise, Theo hitched himself to it. And before long, found himself personal physician to King Louis XIII.

The Cookie Crumbles

That’s the good news. The bad, is just what you’d expect. After King Louis and Richelieu (possibly) went to their respective heavens, M. Renaudot “lost” his medical liscence. Mainly due to opposition from Guy Patin, Headmaster of the School of Medicine in Paris. Who, you will be pleased to know, History regards as a medical lightweight.

However, you don’t circulate in that strata of power and influence, with only two benefactors. And Renaudot was no exception. The next cardinal – Mazarin -appointed Theo historiographer to the (new) “Sun King” himself – Louis 14. (Yes – the Versailles guy!)

Theophraste Renaudot died in Paris on October 25, 1653. But our story, and his influence, doesn’t end here. In 1926, 10 art critics created an award in his Honor – “Le Prix Renaudot.” An enduring byline for the first “French News Guy.

What are ya thinkin’?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

22 Responses to “French News Guy”

  1. cynthia battson says:

    I love the way you give us the facts, but make them so entertaining at the same time! If only we could have had this in school i think more people would have an interest in history.

  2. stanislaus richter says:

    Thank you for another fine post. Always a pleasure to read you, regardless of the subject.

  3. betty linxbo says:

    even tho i don’t read you for this reason….i always wind up learning something new from your posts.

  4. dennison martes says:

    wonderful that you care enough about your readers to dig out the details. makes the story about the bank much more relevant. good work!

  5. lucca veneri says:

    seems like there’s a lot of french people in the past who were doing more for their people than those today. good to hear of this man.

  6. addison sessons says:

    great story! like most of the true ones. And truly well told!

  7. davina carstairs says:

    Renaudot should be a model for today’s politicans!

  8. ugi dentrets says:

    I think it would be very interesting to have you profile some of the other figures of French History that are not widely known. What do you think?

  9. marilyn charters says:

    ugi – i’m thinkin’ that’s a great idea!

  10. cathy bigelow says:

    marilyn – seconded! (or is it thirded now? – lol!)

  11. rathi singh says:

    such a post you have made sir! learning and enjoying so much here everytime.

  12. verna drysdale says:

    maybe it’s just me, but i find french history was fascinating!..i guess because it has so many colorful characters like this one. many thanks for a great post. (ahem…ANOTHER great post!)

  13. sam hunnicut says:

    getting really interested in french history thanks to you!

  14. jean claude levesque says:

    i’m french and this is the first time i’ve known about this guy..which says something maybe about our system of education!

  15. nick spindler says:

    your subtitles crack me up!..especial “not as seen on tv.” Brilliant!!!

  16. carla brunson says:

    very enjoyaable and informative read. as always! (you’re spoiling us! – DON’T STOP!!!)

  17. diana roca says:

    looking foward to more historical posts like this one. you really give us the flavor of each subject that you present. That’s what i like about your writing. nothing canned!

  18. sylvan enders says:

    A great example of talent, power and influence put to a GOOD USE – for a change. Too bad we don’t see as much of that happening in our troubled times!

  19. sheldon goldstein says:

    As a student of French History I commend you on this fine post which, while condensing a huge and complex story, nonetheless is complete and factual. And, in your usual very welcome style, entertaining.

  20. manny herwitz says:

    very satisfying to get the connection bewteen your last post on the french bank that helps the poor, and the person who created it. could use more like him today. a LOT more!

  21. carlin henson says:

    You never cease to amaze with the quality and variety of your posts, even when they’re not your personal adventures. Keep amazin’ BG!

  22. xavier unger says:

    i wonder how many other interesting stories are buried in the pages of french history?

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...