Collection-Piollet

Interwar years 1920-1940


As Joséphine Baker sang so well: « I have two loves : my country and Paris » - one could not but love interwar Paris. A multifaceted city which was so attractive to foreigners, Paris was the flagship of the Golden Twenties, the international beacon of fashion, art and spectacle. The map of Paris drawn by ZIG for the finale of the revue “Un coup de folie”, staged at the Folies Bergère in April 1930, is an extremely faithful depiction of the Paris of the time.
Nowadays, most of the features on the map are no longer familiar to us. And yet, at the time, each of them had a precise role and corresponded to a district or a function which was indispensable.
Let us have a closer look at the map:

Le vélodrome d'hiver
The Vel d’hiv or Vélodrome d’hiver (winter velodrome) was demolished in 1959. It was built to replace the Galerie des Machines (Engines’ Gallery), a huge hall turned into a velodrome in 1903 and destroyed in 1909. The Vel d’hiv is indicative of the government’s policy, from the end of the nineteenth century, to encourage sporting activities among Parisians. Cycling was very popular and the Vel d’hiv became the place for this discipline. Between the wars, it was there that the famous six-day race had its heyday. All sorts of spectators mingled there: the sporting spirit has always united populations and the Vel d’hiv was a striking example of this. The place is unfortunately notorious for the July 1942 round up of Parisian Jews, when it was used as a “Jews’ hangar” for several days. Many Jews died; the others were sent to Nazi camps.

This Paris of the thirties may seem outdated to us, yet how fun it was at the time!
The city bustled with economic as well as cultural and sporting activities. Everything was possible there: to go to a theatre without booking in advance, to go for a night dance in one’s district, to sing in public without necessarily having to be a professional, to enjoy oneself at funfairs, to do sport, to meet artists on the terrace of a café, to go home late at night and observe the setting up of the market, to find work easily…
In a relaxed and informal atmosphere, almost carefree, people lived to the full. They forgot the last war and the next one was not yet on the horizon.


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