Feeds:
Posts
Comments

 

Carriages returning from a Sunday parade in the Bois

 

A previous post described the random free spectacles of the Paris streets. The largest and most ostentatious free show had a steady schedule. Every day, between 2:00 and 4:00 PM, the wealthy shamelessly exposed their luxury to each other, and to the unwashed masses, in the Bois de Boulogne parade.

 

Going to the Bois on a workday

 

Before becoming the favorite place of all social Paris in the 19th century, the Bois de Boulogne had a history. Originally, the forest extended on the plains and hillsides of the right bank of the Seine. A landmark of brigands and vagabonds, the ancient forest was also the favorite place of royal hunts. At the end of Napoleon I’s regime, it was devastated by the occupying troops who encamped there. Although in poor condition and crossed by narrow roads of bad quality, it became nevertheless, around 1830, the rendezvous of all Paris society.


In 1852, the State yielded the wood to the city of Paris with the charge of its development and maintenance. Emperor Napoleon III had envisioned the creation of a large landscaped park similar to Hyde Park. The project was entrusted to the engineer J.J. Alphand who created two lakes, the largest of which measures 19 hectares. Various amenities: large alleys, the racecourse of Longchamp (opened in 1858), the Garden of Acclimatization, and several restaurants completed the whole landscape.

 

Riding in the Daumont style
Riding in the Daumont Style


During the Second Empire (1852-1870), the equestrian rendezvous of the Bois de Boulogne was rated as a meeting of the supreme social chic. The chroniclers of the time tell us of its splendor:

“At the height of luxury was the attelage à la Grand Daumont, with its postilions in livery— of sober or bright colors according to the tastes of the masters—the footmen behind the hood, arms crossed, the two men in a row on horses of the same dress as the four draft horses. Then there came the eighth-spring, the queen of the passenger carriages. There was also the elegant half-Daumont of a duke with horses very close and absolutely under the whip of the gentleman-coachman who drove almost standing. The tandem cabriolet was another fantasy designed to bring out the talent of the gentleman-coachman. Then came a cute cart dragged by two pretty ponies under the hand of the elegant lady who also wanted to show that she could hold the reins.  All aristocratic, luxurious and worldly Paris was there, struggling with elegance and sumptuousness … “

 

 

Romance, or the carnal desire, also played its part. The poet Beaudelaire best describes the mood:


“Sometimes a horseman gallops gracefully beside an open carriage, and his horse appears, by his bows, to salute in his own way. The carriage carries away, in an alley streaked with light and shade, the beauties lying as in a boat, indolent, vaguely listening to the gallantries fall into their ears and indulging themselves lazily in the wind of the promenade. The fur and muslin rise to their chins and overflow like a wave over the door. The servants are stiff, perpendicular, inert, and all alike; it is always the monotonous and featureless effigy of punctual, disciplined servility … “

Cora Pearl

On the side of the great courtesans, luxury was no less brilliant. The famous Madame Musard had a half-Daumont, whose postilions were dressed in violet livery and mounted black horses of admirable beauty. Cora Pearl had set up her stable and was leading it with an authority that made the gossips tell that she must have been brought up by a groom. Adele Courtois, Caroline Letessier, the Barucci, famous for the baccarat affair, all had their car driven to the Daumont, and their livery could compete with those of the oldest houses of the Faubourg Saint-Germain.

Empress Eugenie

Lady Harriet, the courtesan who financed the emperor while he was waiting for his crown, approached by her colors the imperial livery. Madame Lejeune had the audacity to do better. She took the imperial colors outright. One day, her Daumont went out, preceded by two scouts in green and gold, with a hunter on horseback at the left door and two carriage boys following also on horseback. As she had a certain resemblance to the Empress, all the sergeants of the town who saw the arrival of this crew on the Place de la Concorde, rushed forward, made room for them, and finally raised the chains of the Arc de Triomphe, so that the sovereign could pass. She went in this style to the entrance of the Bois. This adventure made a big noise. As a consequence, it was expressly forbidden to employ a livery which, even approximately, recalled that of the Emperor.

This luxury only grew from year to year. It was at its peak in 1867 at the time of the World Exposition. With the fall of the Empire, the splendor would gradually fade: the walks in the Bois and participation in the various events took a different look.

 

Courses in the Bois de Boulogne by Eduard Manet 1872

During the siege of Paris, part of the food of fish and game came from the Bois. More destructive authorization was given to the trade of timber dealers to exploit the Bois de Boulogne. The devastation increased during the battles between Versailles and the Communards. After the war, the southern part, the most devastated, was transformed into the racecourse of Auteuil. From 1872, social life resumed and we could see again the parades of carriages crossing the Bois for the Grand Prix de Longchamp.

 

 

After the Great War ended in 1918, this activity declined. The prodigal nobility of the nineteenth and early twentieth century no longer existed. Only the profiteers of war, the new rich, held the high ground and the automobile had taken over. An époque ended.

Related posts:

The English Courtesan that Made a French Emperor

The Guide to Gay Paree 1868: Sightseeing

 
Advertisements

 

Don’t miss this educational gem! Complete historical accuracy with a light touch of humor is what I appreciate about this production of the Prior Attire.

 

This picture will direct you to YouTube:

 

 

Related posts:

The Huge Women of the 1850s

The Hoop Crinoline: Dying for Fashion

 

Traveler’s Bonus:

FREE FOUNTAINS OF SPARKLING WATER IN THE STREETS OF PARIS!

 

 

 

c-cat

When one lives in Paris, nothing is as difficult as staying at home. The city contains so many enticing spectacles, free or paid entertainment, that the temptation often becomes the strongest and that one abandons one’s home, attracted as we are by the charm of the street. We do not know what we are going to see, but we are sure we will see something, and that something will be new. Curiosity is so strong in Paris that the trees themselves undergo it and set themselves in motion.”

c-title

ACROSS PARIS by Crafty

So said Crafty, whose real name was Victor Eugène Géruzez (1840 – 1906). This graphic artist, painter, draftsman, and author of literature for youth, authored several picture albums depicting life in Paris in his humorous style. Let’s see how trees moved in Paris (and still do) as well as other spectacles, most of them completely free.

 

 

 

 

c-tree

 

 

c-fire

Fire!

 

c-fire2

The Aftermath of Fire

 

WEDDING

A Wedding

 

C-all

The Omnibus Station 

 

 

 

c-poster men

Poster Men Taking a Lunch Rest

 

c-fishing

 

c runaway

A Runaway Horse

 

c-cook

A Guided City Tour

 

c-cafe-concert

 

c-averse

A Downpour

 

c-boat

 

c-AT THE CONFISEUR ( Boulevard de la Madeleine )

At the Confectioner’s

 

c-AT THE BOOKSELLER ( Boulevard des Italiens )

At the Bookseller’s / Food for the Mind

 

C-AN ACCIDENT ( Rue de Rivoli )

Running on Empty

 

c-abreuvoir

 

c-accident

Traffic-Stopping Street Hygiene

 

c-train

The Suburban Train

 

c-after midnight

After Midnight

 

Related post:

Events in the Street: Female Duel with Sand-Filled Socks

A Traveler’s Bonus:  The Most Beautiful Metro Stations in Paris

florian

 

A Belle Epoque courtesan of the first magnitude, Marthe de Florian (1864-1939) has been well forgotten since her “sentimental retirement”. But the reopening of her apartment, seven decades after her death, reminded her to our good memory by the brilliance of her treasures.

 

Monsieur Olivier Choppin Janvry is not close to forgetting the spring day of  2010 when he was mandated by a provincial notary to open a Parisian apartment which remained hermetically sealed since the beginning of WW2. This real estate of fifteen hundred square feet located in the Pigalle neighborhood was a frozen in sanctuary. Under a thin layer of dust, a whole world of high gallantry began to revive through the correspondence carefully classified and color-coded with silk ribbon ties according to the sender.

france

France during WW2

The owner of the place died in Trouville-sur-Mer on August 29, 1939, bequeathing the apartment to her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, then aged 20. During the German occupation, soon after, Solange left Paris to join the Free Zone in the south of France and settled down in the Ardèche. She never returned to the capital but, for the next seventy years, she scrupulously paid the quarterly dues on this Parisian apartment.

When she died in May 2010,  aged 91, the apartment revealed its Art Nouveau treasures, and especially a superb life-size portrait of its former owner clad in a vaporous evening dress of pale pink satin.

 

CORRECTION-FRANCE-ART-AUCTIONS

 

An expert identified the author of the portrait: Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931). Executed in 1898, this masterpiece remained an unknown in the work of the famous portrait painter and later sold for more than two million euros. It was common knowledge that the artist did not deign to honor a portrait commission below one million francs – except for a privileged relationship with the model. The wealthy Italian buyer of the painting was offered as a bonus a package of correspondence enlightening the personality of the said model and the gallant history of the Third Republic.

 

Who was Marthe de Florian? From a midinette to a high-end courtesan, read her story here.

Update: Some details in this article are disputed here.

Related posts:

The Noon Girl: La Midinette
The Gallery of Achievers: The Inescapable Sarah Bernhardt

 

 

The colorful Belle Epoque posters make the joy of collectors. Not only are they highly decorative and amusing in their occasional naïveté but they also inform us about the changing lifestyle. New alimentary products appear, such as chemical taste enhancers and food substitutes. Maggi, powdered milk, and margarine became regular ingredients of people’s diet. Chocolat, previously only served as drink, acquired the solid form of tablets as we know them today. Biscuits were produced industrially.

 

sardine

“The French Sardine Says Hello!” Food talked to people before the advertising industry discovered that humanizing animals we eat was not a good idea.

 

prase

Sausages that “One Eats with Pleasure and Without Fatigue”. A prodigious pig (cochon prodigue) indeed! An animal that happily slices itself for the consumer’s delight would probably turn off today’s viewers. The Belle Epoque folk were made of a tougher stock.

 

HI100036.tif

Seen only in greasy spoons today, a bottle of Maggi was a novelty worthy of a bourgeois table.

 

magi

A bowlful of chemically enhanced soup before the bedtime was a sign of good parenting

 

magggi

Bonjour! Do you eat Maggi soups? Sold in every grocery

 

margarine

This margarine obtained gold medals in Amsterdam {1883) and Le Havre (1887)

 

camembert

Be it cheese, beer, champagne or herb liquor, monks were trusted to produce quality food and drink

 

chocolat

In this boy’s mind, solid chocolate is better than solid gold

 

mucha 1896

Biscuits to be served with champagne. A beautiful poster by Alphonse Mucha, 1896

 

lulu

A boy in a typical school uniform is enjoying sweet biscuits

 

 

cookies

Cookies could start a romance (1896)

 

no bras

 

“No arms, no chocolate”. This bizarre advertising depicts a well-known French saying. One could think that this cruelty hides a wisdom of some sort; that it can be interpreted as “no effort, no reward.” That is not so. This replica is passed on in popular language and is serving to highlight the absurdity of a ban or to make fun of someone faced with a physical impossibility:

“Mom, can I have chocolate?”
“There’s some in the closet. Go serve yourself.”
“But Mom, I can’t, you know I don’t have arms.”
“No arms, no chocolate!”
Obviously, it makes some sense to the French.

 

 

Related post:

The Belle Epoque Lifestyle: Personal Hygiene

 

 

 

Vintage Paris Postcards

 

 

paris3

 

 

paris1

 

 

paris2

And 17 more…

You can send these cards from the website. If you need translation, click on the black and white icon close to the bookmarks star.

 

Related post:

Greetings from Paris: Expect the Unexpected

 

 

 

The French have the tendency to elevate the ordinary, to find beauty where there is none, to make insignificance matter. Nothing is too low to deserve contempt. While everybody agrees that every cloud has a silver lining, the French focus on the silver lining, trying to ignore the rainy side of the matter. That’s the part of their savoir vivre.

To start with, open a menu in a French restaurant. Nowhere in the world does food sound so extraordinary. Even a simple dish of peas topped with butter bears the fancy name of Petits Pois Bonne Femme. Naturally, you eat a dish thus named with a proper reverence. And that’s how things should be done, n’est-ce pas? Similarly, a mole becomes a grain de beauté. If you have one, doesn’t it make you feel better? It does, doesn’t it?

cloche

This attitude extends to the homeless. There is a certain nobility in a bum who sleeps under the bridge, with an empty bottle at his side, as long as the bridge is in Paris and the empty bottle had held the Beaujolais. The Parisian homeless is not a lowly bum. He is called a clochard and he deserves a song, a story, a painting, or even an entire movie. He is as much part of the Parisian folklore as all the midinettes, gigolettes, and grisettes of the previous posts.

Let’s first look at the silver lining before we address the reality. It is true that the clochards, like all the vagrants elsewhere in the world, enjoy a privileged life. They are their own bosses, they have no hours because time is their own and they are free of mortgage and of monthly bills. Why not celebrate this extraordinary freedom with a popular valse?

Below are the chorus lyrics to the video that begins this post. Do start the video now.

Sous les ponts de Paris
Lorsque descend la nuit,
Tout’s sort’s de gueux se faufilent en cachette
Et sont heureux d’trouver une couchette
Hôtel du courant d’air,
Où l’on ne paye pas cher,
L’parfum et l’eau c’est pour rien, mon marquis
Sous les ponts de Paris.

Translation:

Under the bridges of Paris / When the night begins / All sorts of ragamuffins sneak in / Happy to find a berth

It’s the hotel of cold drafts / Where we don’t pay much / The perfume and water are for free, my marquis / Under the bridges of Paris

 

clochard

Now that we waltzed to the romantic lyrics, we can send a postcard of two vagrants (cheminaux) enjoying a lazy day next to someone’s working tools. Being a bum was not that bad when the warm weather lasted.

 

clochard 5

Let’s get real. This picture shows a cave, where the homeless gathered for a night in inclement weather. Nothing romantic can be found here. In some shelters of this type, the bums sat secured by a rope that prevented them from falling during sleep.

 

clochard 4

The poor gather around a heat source during winter

 

Modern times brought better shelter for the homeless but the problem of people without a fixed address in Paris streets grows instead of going away. Gone is the happy clochard content with a bottle of wine. The city is a target for a new type of homeless: those who came from the former colonies after having taken a perilous clandestine journey over the Mediterranean Sea.  They came to partake in the riches of Europe and as their dreams fade, they become increasingly angry.

 

Related posts:

Poor and Helpless in 19th Century Paris

The Worst Season in Paris

%d bloggers like this: