By Irène Jung
Travelers Through Time
Travelers Through Time: There is a tramway that stops in front of my house each morning and which I take occasionally when I want to travel back into the past.
One shouldn’t think of time when going back into the past, as there time doesn’t exist anymore, but nevertheless, on the huge arch of the Saint Lazar station was marked in bold letters, twisted like golden orchids: La Belle Époque.
This flourishing period might have started around 1890 and ended brutally in 1914 when a word chilled the blood of so many men and women all over the world: the war!
But I don’t want to think about this terrible thing in this bright, tender morning, when, through a certain synchronistic witchcraft, I could find myself catapulted to Paris, the capital of women.
Soon I startled as somebody pinched my arm from behind; I turned my head in surprise and, contrary to my expectations, I saw the face of a man with an aristocratic look and condescending smile: Paul Morand. There is nothing to imagine about Paris: here everything is imagination.
We are in 1900 during the World’s greatest fair, and the most beautiful woman, all in iron and steel, stands up erected in the middle of Clamp- de- Mars: the Eiffel Tower.
So we climbed it in an open elevator up to the top restaurant. I didn’t feel hungry. Or I did. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the menu, the best in Europe cost only 5 Francs. And the bottle of saint-émilion only 6 Francs. Paul Morand seemed not much different from the man in my great grandmother’s love letters. He took his time to talk about his prior subject : Boni de Castellane, his sworn enemy , the one who wore “ shiny boots, embroidered morning coat, white gloves with black piping, big tie, light vest, the over washed, bleached impression – ‘blanched’ as cooks say of boiled vegetables”. A journey through time the beginning of everything.
There was something so degrading in politics I thought, much alike the backyard rumors which had the gift to pass into the literature of future centuries as the greatest ideals. A journey through time the beginning of everything.
The saint-émilion run through my blood. I could hardly extract myself from the euphoria of being on the roof of the world. From that height politics, ambitions, decisions, seemed lost in a thick fog which was glittering in the morning sun. I had to quit my host and go down into the anthill of Montmartre. Travelers through time.
Familiar odors revealed themselves to my senses. The afternoon in the old Montmartre: the light and the dust rising in the sun; the poor people steps dripping on the paving stones of the hill, up to the white, shinning dome of Sacré-Coeur2. Travelers through time.
I’ve made my way through the herd of barefoot children playing in the narrow streets among friendly chicken, sometimes scared by a horse passing at speed like a hurricane through a key hole…
 Paul Morand (March 13, 1888 – July 24, 1976) was a French author whose short stories and novellas were lauded for their style, wit and descriptive power. His most productive literary period was the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s. He was much admired by the upper echelons of society and the artistic avant-garde who made him a cult favorite. He has been categorized as an early Modernist and Imagist. Travelers through time.
 Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, pronounced is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark and the second most visited monument in Paris, the basilica stands at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Travelers through time.
Montmartre is a world made for dreamers, artists, creators, vagabonds, bohemians…all lovers of life altogether…Climbing the hundreds of steps up to the hill, one feels excited and dazzled: ghosts can come through walls , talk to you, touch you. One was looking at me: Monsieur Émile Zola?!
“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Travelers through time.
He stood before me, dressed in his blue worn-out linen frock coat, and then made a sign to follow him. I walked behind him silently along the stone walls covered by ivy leafs. He knew by heart every brick, every door, each sigh from inside, the faces, the souls. The stray dogs come to him, he caressed them shedding a tear. Travelers through time.
“In Paris, everything’s for sale: wise virgins, foolish virgins, truth and lies, tears and smiles.” Travelers through time.
I looked straight into his mild eyes, and was struck by the synchronicity of our thoughts: oh, no, not everything was for sale in Paris! The sighs, the cries, the mourning behind the crumbled walls, inside the dark rooms where men and women with livid faces felt hungry, hungry for life or a slice of bread were priceless. Poverty and solitude were the holy ground of Parisians. Travelers through time.
In 1852 Paris knew its last revolution which started the dictatorship of the vain, sophisticated and exquisite beauty! A huge theatre with floors and elevators was meant to perform a perfect choreography where each woman who entered was enthroned a queen: Au Bon Marché. My great grandmother remembered the man behind this royal business, Monsieur Boucicaut, the son of a. Travelers through time.
 Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. Travelers through time.
 Le Bon Marché (lit. “The good market”, or “the good deal” in French, is a department store in Paris. Founded in 1838 and revamped almost completely by Aristide Boucicaut in 1852, it was one of the first modern department stores. The architecture of the store was very innovative for its time; the 1869 store was constructed by the architect Louis-Auguste Boileau. Alexandre Laplanche ornamented Boileau’s ironwork technology. Louis-Charles Boileau, his son, continued the store in the 1870s, consulting the firm of Gustave Eiffel for parts of its structure (Wiki). Travelers through time.
hatter who kept a small shop of passementerie on the Rivoli Street and who, every morning swept carefully the pavement in front of his door! In a few time his little store grew up wildly; he became the wealthy owner of the shops of the Louvre and settled himself in the Château Longchamp which he rented from the Town Hall of Paris .He wore white sideburns, always very neat and impeccably dressed.
Champ de Mars was the track of the chic promenade of Parisians, the one where one could take on the tone of fashion. All the coaches crossed and all the breeds of horses met there, saddle or draft. The riders galloped towards Longchamp, while the small bourgeois ladies, freshly arrived from the province, walked their dogs in their Sunday best dresses… Read French Revolution. Travelers through time.
“His creation was a sort of new religion; the churches, gradually deserted by a wavering faith, were replaced by this bazaar, in the minds of the idle women of Paris. Women now came and spent their leisure time in his establishment, the shivering and anxious hours they formerly passed in churches: a necessary consumption of nervous passion, a growing struggle of the god of dress against the husband, the incessantly renewed religion of the body with the divine future of beauty.” Travelers through time.
 Passementerie is the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings (in French, passements) of applied braid, gold or silver cord, embroidery, colored silk, or beads for clothing or furnishings. Travelers through time.
 Émile Zola, The Ladies’ Paradise. Travelers through time.
As hilarious, cruel or futile “the god of dress” might have seemed, he imposed his kingdom with insight and subtlety forever. Husbands were thus subjects or adorers and lovers permanently extolled by the waste of fine fabrics and lace meant to rise the most extravagant fantasies or expectations. The new queens of Paris marched towards the supreme victory of their sex before being recognized as full citizens of their country; it is in April 1944, at the end of a second world war, that they have been given the right to vote. Travelers through time.
But at the down of 1900, “the god of dress” was carefree of the “god of war”. His weapons were exorbitant and irresistible: the perfumes from Pinaud were on the first line. Irises and violets were the trendy fragrances. Spring arrived in crystal bottles at day and night and Paris was embalmed at every passage of petticoats and taffetas skirts. Travelers through time.
The most famous tailors started working assiduously: Paquin, Worth and Doucet.
Madame Paquin invented the mannequins; in her cozy private hotel husbands used to talk politics and drink cognac or tea while their wives were launched by caring hands like ships at large.
Paris was the mirror where, spiritually, women shaped their personality through beauty and elegance. Excess was the rule. Some of them run a whole world: Travel in time possible.
“She alone was left standing, amid the accumulated riches of her mansion, while a host of men lay stricken at her feet. Like those monsters of ancient times whose fearful domains were covered with skeletons, she rested her feet on human skulls and was surrounded by catastrophes…The fly that had come from the dung heap of the slums, carrying the ferment of social decay, had poisoned all these men simply by alighting on them.
It was fitting and just. She had avenged the beggars and outcasts of her world. And while, as it were, her sex rose in a halo of glory and blazed down on her prostrate victims like a rising sun shining down on a field of carnage, she remained as unconscious of her actions as a splendid animal, ignorant of the havoc she had wreaked, and as good-natured as ever.” Travel in time possible.
Before leaving, I took a last glimpse of this world where the nuclear explosions and satellites have not yet destroyed the nature’s kingdom and the ancestral flow of the seasons. Read about Oldest Sharks
 Jeanne Paquin (1869–1936) was a leading French fashion designer, known for her resolutely modern and innovative designs. She was the first major female couturier and one of the pioneers of the modern fashion business. Travel in time possible.
 Henri Gervex (Paris 10 December 1852 – 7 June 1929) was a French painter who’s portraits of La Bigne inspired Émile Zola in the creation of his heroine for the novel Nana, and Gervex himself was the model for the character of an opportunistic painter who appears in Zola’s novel L’Œuvre (The Work [of Art], 1886).  Emile Zola, Nana. Travel time to work.
I needed once more to feel the rhythm and to hear the beat of the big heart of Paris before taking my leave.
The veil of night fell slowly, the travelers through time had to return to their homes. The Seine revived its whirls and steams, flooding the veins of the old heart of the city forever alive and loving in the poet’s verse:
Under the Pont Mirabeau flows on the Seine And our loves Has remembrance to be mine Joy ever followed the pain.
 Édouard Manet, (23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.  Guillaume Apollinaire (26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish-Belarusian descent. Theodosian Code A journey through time the beginning of everything, through time and space.
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