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an obscure request

I have relatives visiting from France aand made sourdough biscuits last
night.  Our french/english dictionaries don't have a listing for sourdough
and they didn't seem to know what it was when I had then smell it or when I
explained how to make it. And "San Francisco Sourdough Bread" didn't ring a
bell.  Anyone know the history of sourdough?  Does it exist in France?  Do
you know the French word for sourdough? They understand that it's a fermented
product, but beyond that...  Thanks.  -Rosemary