Paris, world capital of cultures !!

Many have said, France is the melting pot of Europe and for good reason, We have welcome the world over the years and especially around the bigger metro areas, there is a vibrant population of immigrants and French of other lands descendancy, I like to treat the subject from a cultural aspect on this post, Paris, world capital of cultures !! Of course, this will be treated in my black and white series, no pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I.

Since the 19C at least, Paris has been a refuge for large numbers of Eastern Europeans especially Polish and Russians fleeing revolutions and repressions, These groups have left their mark on the city creating neighborhoods that acts as a magnet to attract even more as well from Italy, Spain, and Portugal making these groups the largest foreign communities in Paris.

The White city, Paris has a Russian air about it in the 1920’s when aristocrats, and bourgeoise settled in the city fleeing the Russian revolution, Cossacks and White army officers became factory workers, taxi drivers, or dancers and musicians. The masterpiece of all this is the Saint Alexandre Nevsky Church at 12 rue Daru built between 1859 and 1861 by the architects of the imperial court, It follows the traditional Orthodox design with onion domes and grounds in the shape of Greek , cross but the exterior is Muscovite. Besides this church, Paris has several other of churches in the 15éme and 19éme arrondissement with the most attractive those of St Séraphin de Sarov and St Serge , the latter decorated with frescos of Dmitri Stelletsky and 16C iconocastic doors.

Anti semitic pogroms in Russia ,Ukraine, and Poland brought thousands of immigrants to Paris between 1880 and 1930. Many settled in the Marais around Rue des Rosiers and place St Paul, Guimard was commissioned to built a synagogue in Rue Pavée in 1913.

From 1831 , Paris became the place of refuge for Polish exiles. One of the main Polish centers was on the ïle St Louis with the Bibliotheque Polonaise and a museum dedicated to the revolutionary poet Adam Mickiewicz, The museum also , has an impressive room on Chopin. The Church of the Assumption was presented to the Polish community in 1844. The Polish school was founded in the Batignolles neighborhood in 1842.

At the start of the 20C, Paris attracted artists and intellectuals from all over the world, These included Picasso ,Miro, Juan Gris, and Dali, The Cubism and Surrealism of Spain. The Spanish Civil War produced a steady exodus to France which lasted until the 1960’s.

Peasants from Piedmontese Alps and the Apennines streamed into France from 1870 onwards, The immigration from Italy reach its peak between 1920 and 1930 when Paris became the center of Italian anti fascism, Italians form the largest foreign community in France. Today Italian presence is everywhere.

The Portuguese community in Paris gathers around the Bastille. The Cité Internationale Universitaire built between 1923 and 1968 has many student houses such as the Italian House 1958 and the Deutsch de la Meurthe Foundation 1925.

The influence of the Mediterranean is tangible in Paris. Virtually all the communities of North Africa and the Middle East are represented in the city,. North African are the largest community of which Algerians are the most. You have the Institute of the Arab World, with one of the most beautiful views of Paris on the top floor, and the Algerian Cultural Center. The Goutte d’Or neighborhood is the main area for North African settlers since the 1950’s,

The Grande Mosquée de Paris built between 1922 and 1926 on the model of the Fez mosques. Many Parisian grocery stores are run by Moroccans from Sous and Tunisians from Djerba. The Passage du Cairo facade of 2 place du Caire was built between 1798 and 1799 and incorporate Egyptian style motifs, The markets of Barbés, Belleville, and Aligre are meeting places for the North African communities with Mediterranean souks styles and products from their home countries.

From the 1920’ss the rhythms of drums and of the biguine West Indian dance took Paris by storm and an Afro Caribbean elite became established with a growing Black community since the 1960’s with the arrival of immigrants from French speaking Africa, and French citizens from overseas territories like Guadeloupe and Martinique. Between the WW, Paris flocked to the black dances or bal négre with the jazz of Josephine Baker and the West Indian biguine danse, In the 1980’s Paris became the world capital of Afro Caribbean music venues included jazz clubs like New Morning, Hot Brass, and LSC and discos such as Keur Samba, L’Alizé, BB Antilles, and Cinquiéme Dimension, You had West Indian festivals such as in the Zénith ; the Paris Overseas Festival took place in the 12éme arrondissement at the end of June. African arts can be seen at the Musée des Arts d’Afrique and the Musée de l’Homme, many galleries and the Musée Dapper founded in 1986 now closed but the Fondation Dapper continues the presentation by other means . See fabric stores in the Château Rouge neighborhood, the hub of Afro Caribbean life in Paris.

Paris already had a few Chinese restaurants, craftmen and trinket sellers at the beginning of the 20C. However, since the 1970’s refugees from South East Asia have established their own distinct neighborhoods within the city, The first Chinese neighborhood came after WWI close to the Gare de Lyon, China had entered the war in 1917 on the side of the allies, and several thousands chose to stay in France at the end of the war, Hidden away in the 2éme arrondissement is an unobstructive Chinatown with folks from Zhejianh, the Wenzhou Chinese immigrating since the 1920’s speaking a dialect even not understood by other Chinese, They took over the businesses in the Arts et Métiers neighborhood devoted mostly to the leather trade, However, the most famous is the Choisy triangle located in the 13éme arrondissement between Avenue d’Ivry, Avenue de Choisy, and Boulevard Masséna. The area came into been in 1975 when large numbers of refugees came from Indochina, such as Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians. Most of the population here is of Chinese origins in the 19C and many came from Teochew in southern China, You have here the famous Tang Fréres in Avenue d’Ivry that came from Teochew to Laos and then France. There is a huge Olympiades building at the heart of the Choisy triangle houses two Buddhist temples, the meditation center of Teochew and the altar of the Cult of Buddha. There is or was the International Buddhist Institute of Paris with the Grande Pagode de Vincennes open to Buddhist of all persuasions located in the Bois de Vincennes in a group of African buildings from the Colonial Exhibition of 1931.

There is a group of buildings in China Square along the Seine joining with the Marne built in 1992, Designed in the Manchu style as a showcase for China past and present. The first Asian restaurants appeared in the Latin Quarter at the beginning of the 20C ; more followed in the 1950’s when the war in Indochina brought the first wave of Vietnamese and another followed in the 1970’s end of the war. You have the Maison des Cultures du Monde based in the theater of the Alliance Française established in 1982, It brings together the cultures of Chinese operas, Japanese theater, African, Islamic and Indian music. Tai Chi Chuan has caught up in Paris and now practice in the Bois de Boulogne, Jardin du Luxembourg, and the parc Buttes-Chaumont, The Gallery of Asian Arts 48 rue de Courcelles built between 1926 and 1928 following instructions from patron Ching Tsai Loo a Chinese antique dealer ,inside there are decorations in lacquer panels some dating from the 16C.

The Opéra neighborhood has the largest Japanese shops restaurants and bars and it is known as the Japanese quarter of Paris. You can see the influences in the Musée Guimet and in the Japan House of the Cité Internationale Universitaire. The painter Fujita produced two magnificent works for this building combining Japanese and Westerne techniques.

Up to the early 1970’s India was still a mysterious continent whose music ,dance, and cinema was known only to a few in Paris. However, the last 30 or so years increasing numbers of Indians have arrived in Paris. The Indians do bazaars, groceries and cassette stores sprung up at the top end of Rue du Faubourg St Denis, and close to the Sentier where many of them work, Many Indians and Pakistani from the Punjab region have come to Paris since the 1970’s. The Indian community includes those coming from Gujerat as well as the Punjab but also includes Tamils from Ski Lanka and many from the Pondicherry Territory who chose French nationality after the French trading post there was closed down. You see many around the Passage Brady and the Rue du Faubourg St Denis, and the Boulevard de Strasbourg.

There you go folks, indeed this is just a primer and there are a lot more, Paris has them all everywhere. So the cuisines of the world are here too done by nationals and very tasty indeed, try it. Hope you enjoy this briefer on the cultures of Paris as I.

And remember , happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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3 Comments to “Paris, world capital of cultures !!”

  1. Francia es el país más racional del mundo, de gente que aprecia y valora la cultura, pero soy un español y vengo del país más irracional y más místico que ninguno el el universo y donde la cultura es un cachivache más…

    Liked by 1 person

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