Certain blog posts have sparked readers to share their experiences of living in Paris. In 2008, I wrote about the 40th anniversary of the historical student riots in Paris and Nanterre on May 3, 1968. A blog reader Helene Sotsky from Massachusetts shared her experience about studying during her junior year in Paris and how she witnessed the riots in Saint Germain des Pres. (Click here to read).
After my post last Thursday about the French television series Un Village Francais/A French Village, which takes place during the German Occupation during WWII in a small French village, I received an email from a long time blog reader who shared her experience of the Occupation in her village near Nancy when she was a small child.
Before I get to Annie’s story, I want to update you on how to watch Un Village Francais in the U. S. I was told it’s not on Netflix U.S. but it is available on the cable station MHZ Choice.
Now please enjoy Annie’s moving story, as I did.
I was a young child when the Germans suddenly took up "residence" in the French Army Post located directly across the road from my house.......we lived in a small town in the Northeast of France, not far from Nancy. I don't know how large that army was (I'm guessing five or six hundred men) and we were very scared of them......but not my mom. When asked by an officer if she would do laundry for him, she flatly refused and almost insulted him......"ah non monsieur! Je ne rends pas service aux ennemis." And then she explained that her husband was gone, but where? She didn't know........He said his wife was in the same position as my mom, not knowing where her husband was and was solely in charge of three daughters, like my mom. My mom wept and the German Captain got tears in his eyes as well. He said he didn't want to be on our soil, but had no choice. When the Gestapo came around, they all shook........
And then came 1944, but it took the US Army until 1945 before they reached my region, and one beautiful June morning, here they came, to occupy the same Army Post that had been vacated by the Germans. What a glorious day it was! I loved those guys.....so polite, so friendly, so kind......When a sergeant came over to ask my mom if she would consider doing laundry for him and some of his friends (I guess that Army Post had a lousy laundry service), she immediately said yes, and would not accept payment. That was the least she could do, she said, to repay our liberators........
I fell in love with those military men and vowed to learn English when I got older so I could communicate with American people. I had an opportunity to come to the United States when I was twenty one and never looked back.........I also had the opportunity to say thank you face to face to three men who were there and fought to free my country. What a treat to be able to say thank you in person!
Food was scarce for us and for the German soldiers as well (I was told the German Army didn't have much money) So, one day, a small train was passing in front of the Army Post, it had only a couple of cars and was carrying a load of potatoes at a very low speed. A German soldier was standing at the back of the last car. A small group of children spotted the train and ran behind it to pick up the potatoes that were falling out. The German soldier shouted at them and cracked a whip to discourage them from picking up the potatoes that were on the ground. I told my mom what I had witnessed out of the window. She said "No matter how hungry we are, we do not steal and we do not beg. I will feed you if I have to travel tens of kilometers to find food." And she did. One day, she was gone all afternoon, traveling to a far away village on her bicycle, and came home with a little bag of potatoes that a small farmer was selling on the black market. She was a brave woman, my mother. When I asked her later, if she was scared and ever cried, she said "Of course I was scared and I cried. But I could not do it in front of you."
When I came to the States in the late fifties, there were war movies in theaters and on television. The television series was "Combat" at that time, with Vic Moreau being a famous character. I could not watch any of those movies.....the sound of sirens and the whistling of bombs as they were falling was still too fresh in my mind. But you know, even in war time, there are quiet moments, happy episodes, especially for children. We played, went to school, did house chores and went to church. We prayed and my mother told us not to hate. When my dad came back (he was fortunate not to have been killed nor made prisoner), it seemed all worth it. Dad was home at last!
Eye Prefer Paris Postcards
I am thrilled to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Postcards, a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription service where the subscriber receives three physical postcards of my iconic Paris photos every month. Each month will have a specific theme, from architectural street scenes to romantic outdoor cafes to beautiful gardens to unique shots of iconic monuments. Each mailing will include two postcards in color and one in black & white or sepia, beautifully packaged in a special French Blue postcard holder with a custom designed seal.
Each 6” X 4.25” traditional size postcard is printed on thick matte coated card stock, similar to traditional vintage postcard stock that enhances the vibrancy of every image.
Only $30 for a 3-month subscription plus shipping or
Only $60 for a 6 month subscription (plus shipping)or
$110 for a 12-month subscription (plus shipping)
Click here to order a 3-month subscription from my Etsy store
Come experience Eye Prefer Paris live with Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I personally lead. Eye Prefer Paris Tours include many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes, food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks and gardens and much more. In addition to my specialty Marais Tour, I also lead tours of Montmartre, St. Germain, Latin Quarter, in addition to Shopping Tours, Gay Tours, Girlfriend Tours, Food Tours, Flea Market Tours, Paris Highlights Tours, and Chocolate & Pastry tours.
Tours start at 225 euros for up to 3 people, and 75 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $210)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.