Tag: I love Paris

Post war Paris in the 1920s

Post war Paris in the 1920s

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns along the Western Front sputtered into silence. It was the end of The Great War.

Worldwide people rejoiced, waved flags, danced, and kissed strangers in the streets. But the mask of euphoria and laughter hid from view the broken lives of returned soldiers, grieving widows, and mothers. In truth, the world was hiding its pain beneath a veneer of gaiety that transmitted its energy forward into the Jazz Age. Although life on the surface returned to normal at a faster pace for the lucky ones, the undercurrent of tragedy changed life forever, defining the early part of the twentieth century as ‘before’ or after ‘the war’. The 1920s was a special era in post war Paris.

A Honeymoon in Post war Paris

My characters, Winnie and her sister, Francesca emerge from the war and from the end of the poignant story, Time, Heal my Heart (release date August 18) into a new chapter of their lives post war. Decades later, Winnie urges Francesca to write their story from her diaries so their children will know the life they had. Francesca decides to set the beginning of her story in the early 1920s, after the war in post war Paris, because she doesn’t want to recall wartime horrors. Here is the beginning of her story as written in the last novel in the Time Series, Last Time Forever.

‘I loved Paris at first sight. We visited this romantic of cities for a second honeymoon in April 1921, So, I will begin my story with Paris. What better place to start? What better place for a honeymoon? (If you too like the idea of a honeymoon in Paris, read my short story, A Honeymoon in Paris) Paris in the Twenties was so alive that a visit there after the war proved perfect. There I could also connect with my French friend, Lisbette.

The following is part of a letter Lisbette writes to her friends back home in Australia. It captures the Paris of the early 1920s.

Post war Paris, a City of music, love and art

‘Beautiful but war-damaged Paris is very lively now since the war. The city is full of music, love, and art, especially art. Many artists have flocked here to the Montparnasse area on La Rive Gauche where Gervais lives. They find accommodation more affordable here than in Montmartre and I suppose the construction of the Sacre Coeur church on the hill disturbed their bohemian lifestyle. You may be interested to learn that the beautiful church is nearly complete. I remember you frequented this area in your days in Paris. The artists are finishing the mosaic work now.

But for now, Montparnasse is quite the place to be for artists and writers alike. Unlike me Gervais has money, so he took me to some of the cafes and once to a cabaret. The jazz music imported from America is all the rage here. It is very lively with a frantic beat which has become the pulse of Paris. We went to a music hall and even the scandalous Folies Bergère. Women in this city are wearing less and less!

The flappers, a new way to dress

I feel very overdressed and matronly compared to les garçonnes, the boy girls or flappers as they are also called. These boyish young things with bobbed hair wear dresses with absolutely no shape. Gervais says I must buy a new wardrobe, but of course, I don’t have the money or inclination for such frivolity. I have a son to raise somehow, so cannot waste anything on my vanity. I wander about in my old brown coat and straw hat looking very plain and out of date, a stranger from the past in the new vibrant Paris.’

Then Francesca arrives from her long trip from Australia and sees Paris with her own eyes.

‘The city with its gracious buildings and lovely wide avenues was beautiful. There was music in the air, carried to us from a music hall on the soft breeze that wafted from the river Seine.

Beauty in the Air

The next morning, Paris in the sunlight was in full view and I adored everything. There was beauty everywhere, the river, the sidewalk cafes, the churches and the people. Not just the sights, but the sounds- of music, church bells and of course, the language spoken or sung all around me.

‘Oui, Madame…..S’il vous plait, Madame…. Merci, Madame’

Accordion players wearing neckties and berets sang quaint songs by the shaded banks of the Seine. Snatches of songs drifted our way.

‘Mon ami Pierrot, au clair de la lune…’

Near the famous Eiffel Tower, patriotic nationalism stirred in song,

Allons enfants de la patrie, Le jour de Gloire est arrive.’

Le Marseillaise is such a stirring anthem sung proudly and strongly’

I fell in love with the Eiffel Tower

‘I looked for the beautiful tower wherever we walked as I loved it from all angles and night and day.

Ah! Le tour Eiffel. Encore,’ I exclaimed to Seb, yet again as its now familiar grey lines peeped from behind a building or became visible down an alleyway.

He laughed at my fixation on the now-popular national landmark.

‘The French hated it at first, even protested when Eiffel built it for an exposition.( see the movie, Eiffel) But now they love it. They put it on all the postcards!’

Oh, how I loved Post war Paris!

‘Well, it is very tall and imposing close up. I guess nearby residents would have objected. But maybe when it was complete, they changed their minds, as for a tower, it has beautiful lines,’ I reasoned.

Indeed, its lines were even more gracious when silhouetted at night against the moonlight. We took a bateau mouche ride down the Seine and came across the tower as we passed downstream.

‘Your tower, darling. There it is, again!’ Seb whispered in my ear.

I laughed and snuggled closer, gazing up at the grey metal tower, glorious and proud in the moonlight.

Oh! How I loved Paris!’

If you like the idea of this story then you must start with my first book Whispers Through Time. Admittedly not my best work as it is my debut novel, it will introduce you to the sisters Winnie and Francesca in 1905. Then you will want to follow their journey through the next two books, Time Heal my Heart and Last Time Forever, finishing in the 1960s.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Time, Heal my Heart will be released August 18.

Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.