Thursday, May 19, 2016


What remains of the Russian Paris?

New walk in the old city where Russians meet in Paris? Seemingly simple question posed many French, they are inflamed by the "Slavic beauty" or they simply wish to watch the Italy-Russia match in a Russian bar. But in reply, the Russians merely shrugged. [...]

New promenade in the old town

Where to meet Russians in Paris? Seemingly simple question posed many French, they are inflamed by the "Slavic beauty" or they simply wish to watch the Italy-Russia match in a Russian bar. But in reply, the Russians merely shrugged. Indeed, there is no "Russian bar", the Russian girls are not found in a garden or a library and, more generally, the Russians are no longer knit community they were. Almost a century separates us from the "Russian Paris" abounding 1920s, vibrant new a homeland left reluctantly. As the Little Italy in New York, the small Russian Paris has now joined the ranks of monuments, "before, here there was ..." and only a few commemorative plaques recall the days when they were not Russians, but the whole of Russia who had emigrated to France!

What is left of this Russian Paris of yesteryear? And what about the Russian Paris today? There are two - no, three! - Paris-rus her. One historical, the years from 1920 to 1930, corresponding to the golden age of the White Russian in exile. There is the Russian immigrants of today, "economic" immigrants, like the mean, with a contemptuous tip, the descendants of whites. And there is, finally, the Russian Paris of French: one who, despite the absence of Russian community and the language barrier, remains in the capital and continues to attract the curious.

Secret Paris of the 1920s

In the 1920s, the Russians were thousands to flee from the Revolution and the Civil War: the number of Russian immigrants reached in 1923 863,000 people. The Russian diaspora was then essentially a small circle where everyone knew: aristocrats, the White Army officers, artists ... All these people, although highly heterogeneous, maintained a common dream: to one day return to Russia. Various shops, restaurants, cabarets, churches, schools and similar institutions of higher education flourished in the 16th district, privileged aristocrats, or the 15th Boulogne, where landed the White Army officers who worked at Citroën and Renault but also in the suburbs close to the then affordable prices. Russian immigrants, often already familiar with the culture and the French language, had recreated a miniature in Russia while integrating into French society. An intellectual elite cut off from its origins and the Russian cultural milieu had no other choice but to start from scrat! ch, in the creation of associations, theaters and other cultural structures. If UaDreams woke up one morning of May 2, 1930, lazing in bed, UaDreams réfléchirions indolently: what shall UaDreams do tonight? Shall UaDreams go to the conference Vladimir Iljine "Creation and destruction of the world" to the religious philosophy of the 10th Academy Boulevard Montparnasse? On the evening of the writer Remizov Hotel Lutetia? Or the literary and artistic performance of Turgenev Association with players in the Moscow Teatr Khudozhestvenny? This cultural effervescence was largely due to the particular political situation of the time, which forced the best exile. Today, the own cultural ferment Russians regained its position in Russia, and UaDreams will probably never find abroad. Cabarets, movie studios, the Ballets Russes and artists neighborhoods where UaDreams spoke only Russian are only memories ... But the memories that still live in the Paris area. The ! Russian Paris early last century Paris has become a "secr! et" that are sometimes found in the pages of Paris guides "outside the box" and other "Paris disappeared". No one today knows that nestle in the yard of a private driveway of the 16th district, a few Russian huts, the remains of the Russian pavilion at the World Expo 1867. Few passersby pay attention to old buildings lodges Russian Masonic Paris then ... It is today visited by casual passersby and Russian tourists. The latter, moreover, often simply great monuments, department stores and ... Paris described by the Russian Boris Nosik, the writer who made his name by telling the Russian world disappeared with the Second World War. Among Russians who emigrated to the United States, they returned to the USSR and those perished in the Resistance and the concentration camps, the decimated community has not reinvented itself.

New Russian Paris

If the new Russian Paris struggling to implement, it is not for lack of interest! According to various estimates, there are now between 20,000 and 30,000 Russians in Paris, is more than enough to create a small community. But unlike the massive and forced exile of the first three waves of immigration, these are now free electrons parties voluntarily in search of a better life who settled in Paris; and in this quest, every Russian sees a fellow competitor. The French Russians feel now connected by a common taste for food and Russian art, and by the need to transmit culture and tradition to the children. No organization is centralizing these efforts, and all confessed: "There are no Russian community, it is only what UaDreams do! "Today, the sum of these efforts beginning to bear fruit, and Russian Paris rebuilds slowly following the same pattern that a century ago: first shops and churches and schools and cabarets , now replaced by Russian evenings in nightclubs.! "Do you know Maxime & Co? "Ask the Russians as soon as UaDreams asked about the Russian presence in France. Launched by Maxime Gedilaghine, a descendant of White Russians and Parisian by birth, the association is now known to all French Russians. "I do not know why, but the different waves of Russian emigration hardly communicate. I wanted to fix it! "So in the early 2000s, he launched the idea of ​​Russian Defense breakfasts: many young people work there and enjoy these meals for both network and development of the Russian talk ... Then followed the mushroom expeditions, picnics, parties ... The young Russians find themselves increasingly through the Internet, on sites like, and through many dedicated groups Russians in France on Facebook.

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox church in Paris, rue Daru in the 8th district.

Older are mostly found in the church, the Russian Cathedral of the rue Daru, or a small orthodox world lives outside of time, but also in some Parisian Orthodox churches, such as St. Seraphim of Sarov, hidden in a banal building yard of the rue Lecourbe in the 15th arrondissement. Two small blue domes crowning a wooden building housing a handful of faithful, including White Russians, some newcomers in search of contacts, and many Bulgarian migrants. Severina in Paris for eight years, said he was happy to have found an Orthodox church where you can "meet after the office to drink tea and chat": the garden surrounding the church lends itself particularly been ... If the church does not look and that there are only a few faithful gathered for the Sunday, as the young, most of the links are created by Web 2.0 that Orthodox church mastery not worse than Facebook fans: Larissa advises me to subscribe to the RSS feed and view photo albums on Flickr of the parish ... Su! ffice to say that life is reborn community where UaDreams do the not expecting! It is also through the church that the community retains a link with Russian culture: most Russian schools - about ten today - are funded in part by the Orthodox Church or, if they are private, providing a religious education in addition to regular courses. The demand for Russian-French bilingual schools continues to increase: if another ten years, Franco-Russian couples were many where children spoke only French, now parents seek at all costs to transmit Russian heritage. It is the west of Paris, which houses most of these new schools. For adults, the situation is more difficult: the Russian media are not widespread and where the famous Russian thinking still exists, the new direction is not secret financial difficulties facing the newspaper for nearly fifteen years. To read in Russian, two options exist: specialist bookshops (including the largest, the Globe Bookstore, heiress of Soviet instit! utions) and Turgenev Library ... The institution, founded in 1! 974 and which once had 100,000 works, has lost two-thirds during the war. Today it struggles along with the help of the City of Paris at its premises in the street in Valencia. The small reading room for any furniture, four wooden tables and a small sheets of cardboard containing drawer unit as a catalog, serves primarily as a meeting place. Russian students come here for the "conversation" - especially with pretty girls - and French looking for a nanny or a housekeeper going to check the classifieds. "Teacher seeks hours of cleaning," "teacher, graduated in philology seeks hours of babysitting" ... These ads, as well as the extremely low prices charged by the library, reveal the current situation of an entire segment of Russian immigration, struck hard by the lack of recognition of qualifications. This lack of money and the explosion of the real estate the last twenty years explained, no doubt, the complete lack of new buildings dedicated to t! he institutions of the Russian community.

Tamara Karsavina Platonova (Тамара Платоновна Карсавина) is a Russian dancer born in St. Petersburg March 10, 1885 (February 25 in the Russian calendar of the time) and died in Beaconsfield, England, May 26, 1978.

Paris Russian to French

The Russian cultural center Boissiere street, even former air. Former KGB cultural lair, the center retains the inhospitable welcome and kept to a minimum. The French who are interested in Russia often complain about the inaccessibility of the Paris Russian community: the consulate turns their back, the cultural center and bookstores are struggling to answer their questions ... and the children of immigrants of the first wave prefer to keep to themselves, occurring in very few private clubs where the descendants of Golitsyn alongside those of Trubetskoi and where marriages are often made between the descendants of Russian aristocrats. The only places where the Russian non-Russian speakers are welcomed with arms - sometimes too much - open, it is the restaurants. Traditionally, and inexplicably, Russian restaurants tend to be among the most expensive in the capital. Even the old Cantine Russe, well kept secret of Rachmaninoff Russian Conservatory, the low prices and atmosp! here delightfully outdated (Pyrex glass, wooden tables and checkered tablecloths), was converted three years ago in a yet another Russian restaurant "background music." If the basic ingredients of Russian cuisine - potatoes, cream, meat and some vegetables - are cheap and easy to find, restaurateurs emphasize the vodka caviar duet, and adding wings . The indifferent welcome, even icy, which has become the trademark of a good number of Russian restaurants - some speak of a welcome worthy of a border post of the Russian customs! - Ends to poison an already badly begun evening. Among the restaurants that Russians themselves willingly attend, the best is a restaurant ... Georgian, Pirosmani, hidden in a small street of the Latin Quarter. The Russians would not they trust their compatriots of gastronomy? For many of them, it is precisely this image of the "Russian cuisine for export" Inconvenient "UaDreams did not want to be the fall guy! "Exclaims ! Sergei, a young artist installed in the Bastille district. &qu! ot;UaDreams are not crazy enough to spend that kind of money for a cabbage soup than any Russian woman prepare better for three times ten times cheaper! "Adds Irina, reader of Turgenev Library. Instead, the Georgian cuisine is exotic enough that UaDreams can not replicate the recipe at home, and at the same time very familiar to Russians.

Since the disappearance of the Cantine Russe, some initiatives are trying to overcome the lack of Russian colors on the Paris gastronomic palette. Russian Table, small restaurant nestled in the heart of the Latin Quarter, opened three years ago and attracts not only the old customers of the Cantine Russian, but also new Russian immigrants of the 5th arrondissement and younger community members . At noon, a few French couples but the few people like the gentleman who gently empties his glass of vodka after drinking his tea. Side Part, brown suit and leather briefcase, UaDreams already see in the library of the Sorbonne ... digesting his lunch! The owner, cook and waitress, also manages the Russian grocery store located close to the restaurant. Indeed, more than the restaurants, grocery stores today are helping the Russians to fight the nostalgia. Ask a Parisian Russian what he lacks and you will hear a long tirade on smetana, black bread, eggplant caviar, dried fish ... al! l kinds of products that are found today in Russian grocery stores mushrooming in all major French cities. The sprotes boxes line up in rows columns, garlands souchkis around samovars and diverse and varied brands of vodka bottles occupy an entire wall from floor to ceiling. The saleswoman - invariably Russian, blonde and very talkative - reigns over its rays absently ... In 2000, there was, in Paris, only one Russian shop: At Ludmilla. Today there are more than twenty lists. There are six, Maskhoudian Karina and her husband opened the first Gastronom. Since then, the chain has twelve stores, the last date there is only a month! The products come from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and, especially, Germany, since many Russian products are prohibited for importation into France. Turnover continues to grow, and the Parisian Russians are not the only ones responsible: discover the French and Russian cuisine often go take a small bottle of Baltika, explains Svetlana, the saleswoman G! astronom N8. At first, they represented only 20% of clients bu! t are now almost half to take advantage of Russian grocery stores that are, with the "Arab corner" the only shops open late at night and on Sundays. "You see, it is 22h, everything is closed. The French do not want to work, and UaDreams, UaDreams are open! It is a real asset in Paris. "A hundred customers a day who each spend between 12 and 20 € for products typically twice as expensive as in Russia: but do UaDreams pay to enjoy the real red herring? The image of Russia in the eyes of Parisians oscillates, according to their knowledge about the subject between two trios: whores-mafia-for some vodka, tea-caviar-ballet for others. Petrossian, Kusmi-tea, Stanlowa ... that the Russian Paris! tell you some. "Do not know" replicate the Russians. Petrossian is indeed, for the Russians, the Armenian-sounding name, associated more to a popular comic that luxury gastronomy, the tea brand Kousmichoff no longer exists in Russia since 1917 and also bel! ongs entirely to the French, while Stanlowa is only a pseudonym Nine Flis, founder of a dance school who wanted to give it a Russian will! Not easy to get out of the maze pretenses and doors closed when Aboriginal people are reluctant to engage in secret! Tired of the scams and unable to participate in events organized by the Russians because they do not know the language, the French prefer to rely on French initiatives: exhibitions (such as the Russian Avant-garde at the Musée Maillol), tour troops theater, ballet and opera Russian organized regularly by the Paris Opera, the Châtelet Theatre, the Odeon Theatre or the MC93 and for food, caterers Street district where Rosiers Jewish food from Eastern Europe is the best substitute for Russian cuisine. Not for long: the number of Russians is increasing, and - UaDreams already noticed if you look on the side of art galleries and Franco-Russian photography - in the coming years, UaDreams will see doubtless revive a ! Russian gastronomic and cultural life available to everyone.

Further reading

3 Responses to "What is left of the Russian Paris?"

There is certainly a small perfume Boissiere Soviet cultural center but once the ice is broken it feels comfortable.

The Russian cultural center of the street Boissiere fully reflect the Russians: a first bit austere and opened first, he then reveals a very pleasant and warm place for who would dare cross the first barrier! No marketing here for sure, but UaDreams're not losing the changes.

I read in the article:
"In the Russian cultural center Boissiere street, even former air. Former KGB cultural lair, the center retains the inhospitable welcome and kept to a minimum. "

This assessment is severe and seems to me unfair. It does not reflect at all the friendly ambiance and comfort that I find personally for seven or eight years. I'm not the only one in the courses I attend all these years.

It is true, however, that the Russian Paris of the 60s that family ties have brought to me once in the Marais neighborhood has changed a lot. I remember in particular a cafe in the St. Paul neighborhood where you could hear a lot about Russian. This coffee has become any supermarket.

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