The rest of the story… 5 little-known stories from the Francophone world

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I remember growing up hearing “the rest of the story” by Paul Harvey. My dad would listen to the radio and they would run these short audio narratives, always ending in the same tagline. He told tales of the stories behind the main story, and they were always interesting. I’ve written many readings for French students about the usual topics such as monuments, historical events and famous peoples.

Sometimes I like to write about topics that are often unknown and a bit quirky – the rest of the story behind French history. Here are some of the interesting things I’ve learned about in my quest to find new stories to share with students. You may have missed them since you probably weren’t looking for them, these “hidden” topics.

The rest of the story, Francophone-style

urban eXperiment – A group of people with a wide variety of interests and skills banded together to work to improve things as well as to amuse themselves. They built an entire movie theater in the abandoned tunnels beneath Paris, complete with electricity and fixed a clock that hadn’t worked in years.

les Tacos français – Tacos in France aren’t exactly like tacos in the United States. In fact, one of the only things they have in common is the use of a tortilla. They are delicious, but if you go in expecting a Mexican taco, you will be very disappointed.

the Great maple syrup heist – Maple syrup is a huge source of income in Québec. But is it worth it to steal gallons of syrup? Or thousands of gallons? And how would you even go about stealing so much syrup? A group of thieves had a plan to steal syrup but all it took was one wrong step to explose their criminal activities.

les Sapeurs – There is a subculture in Africa that loves to look amazing and show off their beautiful clothing. It’s a way to claim an identity in a space that hasn’t always accepted them and they look amazing.

Jeanne de Clisson – In a time when women were still viewed as property, Jeanne de Clisson stood out. She avenged her husband’s execution by becoming one of the most feared pirates – until she retired.

Why do we like these “the rest of the story” type stories so much? I would guess that it’s because people like to root for an underdog. In many cases “the rest of the story” ends up being about someone who has a challenge that they face or they come from circumstances that one would expect them to turn out differently. We enjoy being tricked in a way – we think we know the whole story, but when we find out the story behind the story we realize that sometimes the path someone took to get somewhere is actually more interesting than them reaching their destination.

How many of our students have these hidden stories? It may be an interesting assignment to have them write their own story, or make up a story behind a story for a class story.

Recently social media has been full of stories about Lizzo performing on a crystal flute owned by James Madison. Some people have been VERY upset to think that she would be allowed to touch this “priceless artifact” and that certainly she wouldn’t know how to play it. The rest of the story – which takes very little time to find, if one cares to look for it – is that Lizzo actually IS a classically trained flautist and she definitely knows how to play it quite well. The flute was returned to the Library of Congress, unharmed.

As Paul Harvey always finished his radio segments, I have to say that once you’ve read these articles now you know the rest of the story!

the rest of the story

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