Grandma’s Grand Tour Part 7: Paris

journal7

Days 28 through 31 of my grandmother’s 1936 trip to Europe, covering her time spent in Paris. (Previously: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.)

Paris, Tuesday July 21, 1936

We left Brussels this morning at eight for a short train ride to Paris.  Our first view of Paris was the Eiffel Tower which we saw while we were still some miles out.  After we were settled in our hotel we started on a sight seeing tour of the city.  Our first stop was Madeline church which is quite unusual because instead of being built in the shape of a cross it was built in a square.  It was originally a victory hall.  From here we passed the Opera House, the Place de la Concorde, the Bois de Bologne, the Louvre and some of the famous streets.  We stopped to visit Notre Dame Cathedral which certainly is a beautiful place.  The rose windows and the famous alter where so many of the kings have prayed for victory were very interesting to us all.  Our next stop was Napoleon’s tomb.  It is a perfectly beautiful place.  The light is all a pale blue which comes from the plain blue stain glass windows.  To look at the tomb you go to a railing and look over the side and below is this huge marble coffin that rises about 20ft from the ground.  It is from this tomb that John Paul Jones’s is copied.  In a little chapel just to the side of the coffin are placed his hat and sword.  From here we drove around to where the Trocadero used to be and on this sight they are now building the buildings for the fair of 1937.  Then over to the left bank to get a glance at the book and picture stalls and then back to the hotel for dinner.  This evening we started out for the Cafe de la Paix and after going in the wrong direction for some time we finally were aided by a kind Englishman and arrived there a little bit soaked but anxious to see all the sights that pass by there.

All the really famous stuff of Paris is, of course, still there, and can be easily researched.  Plugging proper nouns into Google, the most interesting new thing I learned was that restaurant,Cafe de la Paix, was designed by Charles Garnier.

Paris, Wednesday July 22nd [1936]

Spent most of the morning getting my hair washed and a manicure then to the American Express office for some money and I again felt ready to conquer the world.  This afternoon we went to Versailles, which is a very beautiful place surrounded by lovely artificial gardens, beautiful statues and fountains.  The palace itself is very ornately decorated inside & although there is no furniture left at all one gets a grand idea of the luxury and grandeur that the kings of France lived in.  We saw the famous mirrored galleries where the Versailles treaty was signed and the room from which Marie Antoinette escaped during the Revolution.  This evening we went on a tour of the night clubs of Paris.  We left our hotel about nine and went to Montmartre where we got a beautiful view of the city of Paris with all of its lights.  Montmartre itself was very interesting with old houses and many outdoor cafes.  From here we went to an African mosque where we had after dinner coffee, then to an Apache cafe which was most interesting.  Here we had wine and watched the street bums dancing.  Our next stop was the Bal Tabarin where we had champagne and watched a very good real French nude floor show.  Some of the Annapolis boys were there and so we had an opportunity to dance.  Although this wasn’t much of a thrill as the floors were just as crowded as those at home.  Home at 2 A.M. & finally to bed about 3.

“Have you transcribed any more of grandma’s journal?” my mother asks me.  “I haven’t seen anything new go up on your website in a while.”

“A little more,” I say.

“What is she up to next?”

“Well, in the last one I transcribed, grandma went to a nudie show and danced with some Navy boys.”

“….”

Paris, Thursday July 23rd 1936

After an early breakfast we went shopping in the Galeries Lafayette one of the large department stores of Paris.  It was anything but an impressive place and we found the prices terrifically high.  From here we took a cab to the Louvre and then as it was too early to go in on one of the tours we walked up and down the Rue de Rivoli and finally ended up at Rumplemeyers for lunch.  We were really in search of a cheap restaurant but as we had heard so much about this place decided to go in regardless & we paid plenty to.  Afterwards we went thru the Louvre & then back to the hotel just about ready to die we were so tired.  This evening Jo & Kay & Charlotte decided to go to see the town & the did by ending up in a place some taxi driver took them.  They got a bill for over 200 francs ($20) for drinks; but as they didn’t have the money they talked the proprietors into a much lower price.

Paris Friday July 24th [1936]

We left for Fontainebleau at 10:00 an interesting drive thru the poorer districts of Paris.  It was really lots of fun seeing the children running around the streets all dressed in aprons, boys and girls alike & the people carrying loaves of bread unwrapped under their arms.  The forest near the hotel is supposed to be the most beautiful in France & from what we’ve seen I agree with the critics.  It has the appearance of a beautiful piece of green lace.  The castle itself is furnished just as it was during the times of Frances 2 and Napoleon.  It is very ornate but has beautiful tapestries, hangings, pictures & exquisite pieces of Stone China.  By using your imagination you can really see the type of people that occupied this place.  We started back in the same old bus which broke down half way home.  We were transferred to another and arrived just a few minutes later than we had expected.  This noon we had a terrible lunch of what we decided afterwards was horse meat.  Out first & I hope last.  After an evening of packin we started out about 11 o’clock for Mont Parnasse the artists’ quarter of Paris.  Sylvia Sopolitz a new acquaintance who spoke French very well took charge of the party.  We rode 5 metros before we reached our destination champagne at the “Dome” amidst artists, tourists, Arabs selling furs and other vendors.  Pastry and coffee at the “Cupole” a nearby cafe.  Then home 7 in a cab having first bargained with the cab driver for a fare we were willing to pay.

My best guess, from minimal research, is that the “Dome” refers to Le Dome Cafe

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  1. Your grandma sounds totally awesome. Thanks so much for these.

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