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Paris of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a second home to Russia’s nobility. Until the start of the First World War, they retreated to Paris to have fun. Some liked it so much that until the war started they abandoned Russia almost entirely, remaining in Paris year-round.
“After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Epoque through revolution and war,” by Helen Rappaport, tells their story, following the Russians in France both before and after the Russian Revolution. It is a tale of the wheel of fortune taking those at the pinnacle of life to its nadir. The Revolution reduced Russian princes who lived in luxury to men driving taxis with their wives worked at\ fashion houses to make ends meet.
Rappaport emphasizes the before and after contrasts by opening the book during the Belle Epoque. She shows Russian aristocrats using Paris as a playground, with every want or need provided by their wealth. Republican Paris became a Russian colony, an escape from an uncultured Imperial Russia. One of Tsar Nicholas II’s brothers even moved to Paris, transferring his wealth there.