1896 – “The Russian Week” in France
His Majesty Tsar Nicholas II, Her Majesty Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and the ten-month-old Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, arrived in Cherbourg, where they were met by President of France Felix Faure. So began “The Russian week” in France, which ended on 27 September with a parade in Chalon.
In Paris Nicholas II headed from the train station to the embassy through the tapestry of troops, behind which as a crowd of millions, under unceasing cheers of “Long live the Tsar! Long live the Tsarina!”, which was unprecedented from a foreign crowd.
(” Reminds one of Moscow… Our National Anthem was sang by French soldiers in the streets… It was even played on an organ at the Notre Dame ” – a radical Russian “Thick Journal” observed with displeasure). Paris was overfilled with people. To its population of two million 930,000 of visitors were added. There street were full of joyful celebrations.
Everything became Russian or pseudo-Russian: Soap “Le Rsar”, sweets Russian flags or emblems, china with portraits of the Romanov family, toys, images of the Russian bear, as well as the Tsar, Her Manjesty, and even the grand Duchess Olga. The familiar toy of “the peasant with a bear “became the Tsar and Felix Faure.
Advertisements were printed on the backs of the portraits of the Romanov family and given out in the streets for free. The signs “Gift from the Tsars”- could be seen on the dress shops which advertised clothing sales. A “Franco-Russian” Dutch cheese was created… In all of this was a lot of tastelessness, but the infatuation with the imperial Romanov family was undoubtedly sincere.
In the afternoon, with singing of “God save the Tsar” in the background, a foundation of the first brick of the bridge dedicated to the Emperor Alexander III was laid by his son Nicholas II.
Just past the Paris Mint building, where the Tsar was given a medal in honor of his stay in the French capital, the imperial couple proceeded into the French Academy and was present at a meeting there.
When welcoming the Russian guests, the Presiding Officer recalled the arrival of Tsar Peter the Great- Nicholas II’s Romanov ancestor – in Paris on 5 May, 1717. Subsequent visits of the Russian Tsars were never associated with pleasant memories: the arrival of Tsar Alexander I – with the occupation of Paris by Russian forces; the arrival of the Tsar Alexander II – with assassination attempt by the Pole Berezovsky). “Allow us to celebrate today in advance the bicentennial of the heartfelt friendship between France and Russia”, said the host.