Marie Antoinette’s Versailles hide-away

Audio 30:12
Sound Kitchen Podcast
Sound Kitchen Podcast RFI

This week on The Sound Kitchen you’ll hear the answer to the question about the theatre sets in Marie Antoinette’s theatre at the Château de Versailles. We’ll celebrate Bangladesh’s Independence Day with an essay by listener Sultan Sarkar, as well as a look at Holi. There’s listener news, The Sound Kitchen Mailbag, Ollia’s “Happy Moment”, and lots of great music – all that, and the new quiz question too! Just click on the “Audio” arrow above and enjoy!


Hello everyone! Welcome to The Sound Kitchen weekly podcast, published every Saturday – here on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll hear the winners' names announced and the week’s quiz question, along with all the other ingredients you’ve grown accustomed to: your letters and essays, “On This Day”, quirky facts and news, interviews, and great music … so be sure and listen every week.

It’s ePOP time!

RFI Planète Radio is sponsoring a video contest, and we want you to enter!

Planète Radio is an RFI department that gives voices to remote populations around the world. They are looking for 3-minute videos about climate change, the environment, pollution - told by the people it affects. Here’s what Planète Radio says about the competition:

“Environmental deterioration, climate change, pollution, everybody's talking about it. But amid articles, figures and expert reports, what do we really know about the feelings of the people already impacted? The video clips produced by the ePOP community in more than 50 countries allow us to hear from those who never ask for anything, yet have seen it all. Those who are already living with these changes that are deteriorating their quality of life.”

Your project should be intergenerational: get together with your grandfather, your aunt, someone older in your community and ask them how they feel about what is happening where they live, maybe in the place where they grew up. How do you feel about it? Tell us what you think, too.

For competition guidelines and more information about the different categories you can enter, click here    

You can also write to us at if you need more help.

We’re very proud that the winner in the ePOP 2020 RFI Club category went to an English language club – Adita Prithika’s RFI Agnichiragu Phoenix Club in Tami Nadu, India. Here’s Adita’s award-winning video.

She won a trip to Paris to attend an ePOP workshop (as soon as we have Covid-19 under control!) and five ePOP turning kits (tripod, lavalier microphone, USB key, report bag, t-shirt). 

Please note that you do not have to be a member of an RFI English Club to enter. Everyone is welcome!

The deadline for entries is 4 April, so get your entries in this week!

During the French lockdown to fight the Coronavirus last spring, we were constrained to stop broadcasting Paris Live, our afternoon news broadcast.

In the meanwhile, we are focusing on our digital presence, and making our website the best! You can read breaking news articles on our site, as well as in-depth analysis of current affairs, both in France and across the globe.

We are also developing new and exciting podcasts for you. There’s Paris PerspectiveAfrica Calling, Spotlight on France, and of course, The Sound Kitchen. We have a bilingual series - an old-time radio show, with actors (!) to help you learn French, called Les voisins du 12 bis. And there is the excellent International Report, too.

As you see, sound is still quite present at the RFI English service!  Keep checking our website for updates on the latest from our excellent staff of journalists.

Send me your music requests! I’ll make programmes of your favourite music when I can’t be in the kitchen to cook up something new for you … write to me at

To listen to our features from your PC, go to our website and click on the three horizontal bars on the top right, choose Listen to RFI / Podcasts, and you’ve got ‘em! You can either listen directly or subscribe and receive them directly on your mobile phone.

To listen to our features from your mobile phone, slide through the tabs just under the lead article (the first tab is “Headline News”) until you see “Podcasts”, and choose your show. 

Teachers, take note! I save postcards and stamps from all over the world to send to you for your students. If you would like stamps and postcards for your students, just write and let me know. The address is   If you would like to donate stamps and postcards, feel free! Our address is listed below. 

RFI Clubs: Be sure to always include Audrey Iattoni ( from our Listener Relations department on all your RFI Club correspondence. Remember to copy me ( when you write to them so that I know what is going on, too. N.B. You do not need to send her your quiz answers! Email overload!

And don't forget, there is a Facebook page just for you, the RFI English Clubs. Only members of RFI English Clubs can belong to this group page, so when you apply to join, be sure you include the name of your RFI Club and your membership number. Everyone can look at it, but only members of the group can post on it. If you haven’t yet asked to join the group, and you are a member of an independent, officially recognised RFI English Club, go to the Facebook link above and fill out the questionnaire!!!!! (if you do not answer the questions, I click “decline”).

There’s a Facebook page for members of the general RFI Listeners Club, too. Just click on the link and fill out the questionnaire, and you can connect with your fellow Club members around the world. Be sure you include your RFI Listeners Club membership number (most of them begin with an A, followed by a number) in the questionnaire, or I will have to click “Decline”, which I don’t like to do!

Welcome to our new RFI Listeners Club member! Joy Mfon Essien lives in Abuja, Nigeria. She is a member of the Radio Zeater Club.

So glad you have joined us, Joy!

You too can be a member of the RFI Listeners Club – just write to me at and tell me you want to join, and I’ll send you a membership number. It’s that easy. When you win a Sound Kitchen quiz as an RFI Listeners Club member, you receive a premium prize.

This week’s quiz: On 27 February, I asked you a question about Marie Antoinette and her little theatre at Versailles. Earlier that week, we had an article on the RFI English website about this gem of a theatre, which the Versailles conservation team – profiting from the Covid-19 closure - has been busy restoring.

There are three sets from the days when Marie Antoinette used to perform on the stage of her theatre, and I asked you what those original sets were meant to represent.

The answer is:  A rustic interior, a forest, and a temple of Minerva, the latter being the oldest intact decor in the world, dating to 1754. Raphael Masson, the head of conservation at the Château, calls the Temple of Minerva set "our own Mona Lisa". Minerva, by the way, is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy.

The 250-seat theatre is the only 18th-century theatre in France to still have its original working machinery: all is still intact and fully functioning. Raphael Masson calls it “a miracle of conservation” – which it is. The machinery can still make a tree rise from a trapdoor beneath the set – pretty incredible engineering for the 18th century, don’t you think? And pretty incredible that it still works!

That’s not the only working machinery from the era at the Château – all the plumbing for the elaborate fountains in the gardens are original, too! It’s an amazing place, the Château de Versailles.  The insides are a bit too goldy for me, but the gardens are an absolute dream.  Come over and see for yourself!

The winners are:  All from Bangladesh – as a little present from The Sound Kitchen for your National Day, and for your fidelity to the show: boy are there ever a lot of listeners in Bangladesh! Thank you!

From Naogaon, there’s Abdur Rakib, who’s a member of the Shetu RFI Listeners Club; Safayet Hosen Hannan from Sunamganj and Besakha Akter from Narayanganj, who are both RFI Listeners Club members, and last but not least: RFI English listeners Gias Uddin Ahmed from Kishorganj, and Abdul Mannan from Chapainawabganj.

Congratulations winners!

Here’s the music you heard on this week’s programme: Bangladeshi Folk Music medley arranged by Piaru Khan and performed by the Pradeep Bhattacherjee Ensemble; “Hridoy Aamar Bangladesh” from the film Ei To Prem, written by Habib Wahid and Sohel Arman, performed by Habib Wahid, Arifin Rumi, and Prodip Kumar; the overture to the opera Thésée by Jean Baptiste Lully, performed by the Boston Early Music Festival; The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov; “Vibez” written and performed by Burna Boy; Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and “Madeleine” by Gérard Jounannest and Jean Corti, sung by Jacques Brel.

Do you have a musical request? Send it to

This week’s question ... You'll have to listen to the show to participate. You have until 19 April to enter this week's quiz; the winners will be announced on the 24 April podcast. When you enter, be sure you send your postal address in with your answer, and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

Send your answers to:


Susan Owensby

RFI – The Sound Kitchen

80, rue Camille Desmoulins

92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux



By text … You can also send your quiz answers to The Sound Kitchen mobile phone. Dial your country’s international access code, or “ + ”, then 33 6 31 12 96 82. Don’t forget to include your mailing address in your text – and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

To find out how you can win a special Sound Kitchen prize, click here

To find out how you can become a member of the RFI Listeners Club, or to form your own official RFI Club, click here


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