One hundred and twenty-five years ago—and four years before the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896—the first long distance course was organized by a Parisian newspaper. It was all new and nobody had the slightest idea how the participants would behave during the 500-kilometers long journey. The vast majority were ignorant of the first principles of physical training. However, of the 840 men who gathered in Paris, about 250 reached Belfort – not a bad result at all considering that they had neither experience nor the comfortable sportswear we enjoy today. One has to admit though that the assortment of jackets, jerseys, naval uniforms, and the variety of headgear, scarves, and bright belts gave the participants that romantic look of adventure which we usually don’t associate with sports.
Archive for the ‘important events’ Category
Posted in anarchists, crime and justice, important events, Paris history, Third Republic, tagged 19th century France, 19th century Paris, anarchists, life in Victorian Paris on January 21, 2015| 2 Comments »
As terror stalks the streets of Paris, one is forced to remember the 1890’s when the situation was similar; when men and women infected with extreme ideas and with no regard for human life carried out deadly attacks on innocent people. While the Islamists work for the ideal of the Caliphate—a world-wide state where everyone will be either Muslim or dead—the anarchists of the 19th century advocated a government-free, self-managed society. Have you heard of the anarchists lately? Not so much, I’d say. That’s the fate of all insane movements.
Posted in books about Paris, important events, Napoleon III, personalities, Second Empire, tagged 19th century France, 19th century Paris, empress eugenie, Napoleon III, Prince des Galles, Prince of Wales, Victoria and Albert on March 24, 2014| Leave a Comment »
The year is 1855. An enthusiastic crowd lining the boulevards greets Queen Victoria with her husband Prince Albert and the French imperial couple, Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie, as their open carriages progress across Paris. It is the first visit of a British ruler since 1431 and it has been a tremendous success on several levels. Both monarchs have become firm allies in the Crimean War, the term “entente cordiale” was coined between them, and lasting personal friendships have been born.
Albert is much taken with the elegant Eugénie. “Altogether I’m delighted to see how much he likes her and admires her,” the queen notes in her diary, “as it is so seldom that I see him do so with any woman.” Victoria herself is experiencing a pleasant electric current each time Napoléon III whispers endearments into her ear, compliments her on her dress or tickles the back of her hand with his moustache. No man had ever dared flirt with her and it is all so very French!
If the 10-day visit made such a good impression on the parents, the two children Victoria and Albert brought along were quite smitten. Vicky, the Princess Royal, broke into tears and pleaded for more time in France. Her 13-year old brother Bertie, the future king Edward VII, took a more direct action. The day he found himself alone with Napoléon III, he said: “You have a nice country and I would like to be your son.” When his proposal met with no success, he tried again, this time with Eugénie. “You parents cannot do without you,” she replied. “Not do without us?” Bertie exclaimed. “Don’t fancy that, for there are six more of us, and they don’t want us.”
The unloved Bertie grew up into a playboy. The Prince des Galles, as he was known in France, returned many times, enthusiastically sampling all the pleasures Paris could offer.
Who do you call when you need to throw a party for the Queen of England or the G7 summit? There is only one caterer that will do. The firm has a list of experiences reaching as far as 1856 on the occasion of the Prince Imperial’s baptism celebration. Potel et Chabot satisfied the demands of Napoleon III and since then they have been firmly established as the best in the world. In 1900, Potel et Chabot reached a culinary record that remains unsurpassed to this day. The legendary feast is known as the Banquet des Maires. Twenty-one thousand French mayors, including those from the colonies, responded to President Émile Loubet’s invitation to celebrate the success of the Exposition Universelle.
The area of the banquet in the Jardin des Tuileries covered 10,000 acres. 24,000 meals were served by the staff of 3,600. One car and six bicycles circulated between the tables to transmit orders. Over 6 miles of table-cloth was needed as well as 125,000 plates, 55,000 forks, 55,000 spoons and 60,000 knives. The nine-part menu was washed down with 39,000 bottles of quality wine including champagne. 3,000 bottles of gros-rouge were allotted to the perspiring staff.
I don’t know who paid the bill, but I bet that in today’s economic situation the question would be on every taxpayer’s lips.
Posted in Commune, important events, Third Republic, tagged 19th century France, Franco-Prussian War, Hall of Mirrors, Otto von Bismarck, Shah of Persia, Third Republic on October 22, 2012| Leave a Comment »
King of Prussia`s proclamation as Emperor of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles; Bismarck can be seen in the center wearing white.
When declaring war on Prussia in July 1870, Frenchmen did not expect that within months the prosperous Second Empire would be no more. It all happened so fast: the war, the fall of the Empire and its replacement by the Third Republic, followed by the Prussian occupation and the horrors of the Commune uprising yet to come. For Prussia, however, it was a time of glory and the time for unification of all the small German-speaking kingdoms and duchies into a new European power – the German Empire. To France’s chagrin and humiliation, the ceremony was held in the famous Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. For Otto von Bismarck, architect of the unification project, the day marked the culmination of his political career.
Two years later, on a visit to Paris, the Shah of Persia captured in his diary the prevailing French mood and the political confusion that reigned at the time:
To-day we noticed a singular frame of mind in the French. First of all, they still keep up the state of mourning that followed the German War, and they are all, young or old, sorrowful and melancholy. The dresses of the women, ladies and men, are all dresses used for mourning; with little ornamentation and very plain. Now and then some people shouted: “Vive le Maréchal” , “Vive le Shah de Perse!”, from another one I heard , as I strolled about by night, a loud voice saying: “May his reign and rule be firm and enduring.”
From the whole of these circumstances it becomes evident that there are at present in France numerous parties who desire a monarchy; but they are in three sections, one desiring the son of Napoleon, another the dynasty of Louis-Phillipe, and the third Henry the Fifth, who is then Bourbon family; and although this and the family of Louis Phillipe are really one race, they have distinctions.
The wishers for a republic, on the other hand, have great power; but they are not all of one mind. Some are for a Red Republic, which is a fundamental commonweal. Others are for a moderate republic in which monarchical institutions shall be found, without a monarch’s existing. Others again wish otherwise. Among all these diversities of opinion it is now a very difficult matter to govern, and the consequences of these incidents will surely eventuate in many difficulties, unless that all combine on one plan and establish either a pure monarchy or a pure republic. Then, France is the most powerful of States, and all must take her into their calculations; whereas, with all these dissidences it is a difficult matter for her to preserve her institutions.
Excerpt from the Diary of H.M. Shah of Persia During his Tour Through Europe in A.D. 1873
(From Paris Partout! A guide for the English and American Traveller in 1869 or How to see PARIS for 5 guineas)
1789 Capture of the Bastille
1792 Republic proclaimed
1793 Execution of Louis XVI
1804 Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor.
At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, one third of Paris had been occupied by ecclesiastical property. Since much of it was subsequently expropriated, and then sold to speculators or retained by state, Napoleon availed himself of an opportunity to beautify the city, opening the rue de Rivoli, completing the Louvre Palace, and beginning the Arch of the Etoile.
1814 Abdication of the Emperor. Restoration of the Bourbon Louis XVIII.
1824 Succession of Charles X
1830 Three-day revolution. Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans, proclaimed King. He completed the Arch of the Etoile, the Madeleine, enlarged the Hôtel de Ville, and repaired many neglected monuments, as well as widening principal thoroughfares. During this reign, Paris was surrounded with the present fortified wall and ditch, and the detached forts erected.
1848 February revolution. After two days’ fighting, Louis Philippe fled, and republic was proclaimed. The words ‘Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité’ met the visitor’s eyes in every direction; they have now been erased. Louis Napoleon, son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland and nephew of the first Napoleon, elected by universal suffrage President of the French Republic.
1851 2 December. Discretion compels us to pass over the coup d’état which took place on this date. Suffice it to say that exactly a year later, Louis Napoleon was elected Emperor by universal suffrage, and the present regime, known as the Second Empire was established. In 1853 Louis Napoleon married the present Empress, Eugénie de Montijo. Since these events, works of public utility in Paris have proceeded at a pace quite stupendous, throwing into shade everything previously achieved in any city of the world. Picturesque but insalubrious quarters of narrow and crooked streets have been cleared, the boulevards extended, railways constructed.
Today visitor to Paris will find a population between one and a half and two million. In 1860 the line of fortified wall which surrounds the city was made the municipal boundary; this wall is rather more than 22 miles in circuit, and has 66 entrances or gates.
The city is divided into 20 arrondissements, with their own administrations, over which are placed the Prefect of the Seine, Baron Georges Haussmann, and his municipal council. The modern fashionable quarter comprehends the bright and brilliant rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, Boulevard des Italiens and the Champs Elysées. The Palace of the Tuileries is the Paris residence of the Emperor and Empress; on the Ile de la Cité are the law courts, central police office, and the great hospital; there is nothing like ‘the City’ in London – the Bourse or Stock Exchange being close to the fashionable quarter. In the Faubourg Saint-Germain, on the Left Bank of the river Seine, stand the vast hotels of the nobility, in which some of the traditions of old French society are maintained; in the adjoining Latin Quarter, many thousands of students lead a life of riot and license hardly to be understood by a foreigner. To the East, in the Faubourg S. Antoine, are numerous manufactories and the dwellings of those who work in them, formerly the hotbed of terror and insurrection. On the outskirts, as in the Faubourg S. Victor, Mouffetard, Belleville &c, are to be found the most wretched of the population; but Paris may at least be proud that it possesses fewer dens of misery, filth and vice than the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road or Drury Lane can exhibit.
Next: Find a hotel
Text written in 1867 on the occasion of the Exposition Universelle
Presently there was a sound of distant music; in another minute a pillar of dust came moving slowly toward us; a moment more and then, with colors flying and a grand crash of military music, a gallant array of cavalrymen emerged from the dust and came down the street on a gentle trot. After them came a long line of artillery; then more cavalry, in splendid uniforms; and then their imperial majesties Napoleon III and Abdul Aziz. The vast concourse of people swung their hats and shouted–the windows and housetops in the wide vicinity burst into a snowstorm of waving handkerchiefs, and the wavers of the same mingled their cheers with those of the masses below. It was a stirring spectacle.
But the two central figures claimed all my attention. Was ever such a contrast set up before a multitude till then? Napoleon in military uniform–a long-bodied, short-legged man, fiercely moustached, old, wrinkled, with eyes half closed, and such a deep, crafty, scheming expression about them!–Napoleon, bowing ever so gently to the loud plaudits, and watching everything and everybody with his cat eyes from under his depressed hat brim, as if to discover any sign that those cheers were not heartfelt and cordial. Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman empire–clad in dark green. European clothes, almost without ornament or insignia of rank; a red Turkish fez on his head; a short, stout, dark man, black-bearded, black-eyed, stupid, unprepossessing–a man whose whole appearance somehow suggested that if he only had a cleaver in his hand and a white apron on, one would not be at all surprised to hear him say: “A mutton roast today, or will you have a nice porterhouse steak?” Napoleon III, the representative of the highest modern civilization, progress, and refinement; Abdul-Aziz, the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious–and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood.
Here in brilliant Paris, under this majestic Arch of Triumph, the First Century greets the Nineteenth! NAPOLEON III., Emperor of France! Surrounded by shouting thousands, by military pomp, by the splendors of his capital city, and companioned by kings and princes–this is the man who was sneered at and reviled and called Bastard–yet who was dreaming of a crown and an empire all the while; who was driven into exile–but carried his dreams with him; who associated with the common herd in America and ran foot races for a wager–but still sat upon a throne in fancy; who braved every danger to go to his dying mother–and grieved that she could not be spared to see him cast aside his plebeian vestments for the purple of royalty; who kept his faithful watch and walked his weary beat a common policeman of London–but dreamed the while of a coming night when he should tread the long-drawn corridors of the Tuileries; who made the miserable fiasco of Strasbourg; saw his poor, shabby eagle, forgetful of its lesson, refuse to perch upon his shoulder; delivered his carefully prepared, sententious burst of eloquence upon unsympathetic ears; found himself a prisoner, the butt of small wits, a mark for the pitiless ridicule of all the world–yet went on dreaming of coronations and splendid pageants as before; who lay a forgotten captive in the dungeons of Ham–and still schemed and planned and pondered over future glory and future power; President of France at last! a coup d’etat, and surrounded by applauding armies, welcomed by the thunders of cannon, he mounts a throne and waves before an astounded world the sceptre of a mighty empire! Who talks of the marvels of fiction? Who speaks of the wonders of romance? Who prates of the tame achievements of Aladdin and the Magii of Arabia?
ABDUL-AZIZ, Sultan of Turkey, Lord of the Ottoman Empire! Born to a throne; weak, stupid, ignorant, almost, as his meanest slave; chief of a vast royalty, yet the puppet of his Premier and the obedient child of a tyrannical mother; a man who sits upon a throne–the beck of whose finger moves navies and armies–who holds in his hands the power of life and death over millions–yet who sleeps, sleeps, eats, eats, idles with his eight hundred concubines, and when he is surfeited with eating and sleeping and idling, and would rouse up and take the reins of government and threaten to be a sultan, is charmed from his purpose by wary Fuad Pacha with a pretty plan for a new palace or a new ship–charmed away with a new toy, like any other restless child; a man who sees his people robbed and oppressed by soulless tax-gatherers, but speaks no word to save them; who believes in gnomes and genii and the wild fables of The Arabian Nights, but has small regard for the mighty magicians of to-day, and is nervous in the presence of their mysterious railroads and steamboats and telegraphs; who would see undone in Egypt all that great Mehemet Ali achieved, and would prefer rather to forget than emulate him; a man who found his great empire a blot upon the earth–a degraded, poverty-stricken, miserable, infamous agglomeration of ignorance, crime, and brutality–and will idle away the allotted days of his trivial life and then pass to the dust and the worms and leave it so!
Napoleon has augmented the commercial prosperity of France in ten years to such a degree that figures can hardly compute it. He has rebuilt Paris and has partly rebuilt every city in the state. He condemns a whole street at a time, assesses the damages, pays them, and rebuilds superbly. Then speculators buy up the ground and sell, but the original owner is given the first choice by the government at a stated price before the speculator is permitted to purchase. But above all things, he has taken the sole control of the empire of France into his hands and made it a tolerably free land–for people who will not attempt to go too far in meddling with government affairs. No country offers greater security to life and property than France, and one has all the freedom he wants, but no license–no license to interfere with anybody or make anyone uncomfortable. As for the Sultan, one could set a trap anywhere and catch a dozen abler men in a night.
The bands struck up, and the brilliant adventurer, Napoleon III., the genius of Energy, Persistence, Enterprise; and the feeble Abdul-Aziz, the genius of Ignorance, Bigotry, and Indolence, prepared for the Forward–March! We saw the splendid review, we saw the white-moustached old Crimean soldier, Canrobert, Marshal of France, we saw–well, we saw everything, and then we went home satisfied.