The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


PARIS, Tuesday—The 11th of November was certainly adequately celebrated here. There could not have been a more beautiful setting for a ceremony than the square facing the Palais de Chaillot where the United Nations is meeting. The flag that floated from the arch to the Etoile seemed to hang from nothing at all and as darkness came and the red, white and blue lights played on it, the wind blew it back and forth to create a most enchanting sight.

All of the beautiful spots were lit up Sunday night—the Invalides, the Place De La Concorde, and even some of the fountains were on with lights playing on them.

I wanted to go down by Notre Dame but instead we went up to Montmartre and crowded in with many French people to listen to some of the best entertainment to be found in Paris at the Lapin Agile. Most of the people must go over and over again, for they all knew all the songs and joined in the chorus. I think I enjoyed, above all, hearing Jean Caussimon, who writes the music as well as the words of his songs and who recited some delightful poems of his own.

Artists flourish in Paris because they get so much appreciation. I know of few places at home where one could spend an evening and hear one artist after another recite or play or sing and have them all receive the respect due an artist. No one speaks while the artists entertain, unless they are asked to join in the singing and then they join as though each of them had a real appreciation of just what they were being asked to do. It is a rare audience as well as a wonderful artistic performance.

At the morning service in the Protestant Episcopal Church, Ambassador Austin read the lesson and I presented the U.N. flag in memory of two young men who died in World War II, A. Bayard Dodge Jr. and John Work Garrett II.

I thought Dean Riddle succeeded in giving all of us who work in the United Nations a feeling of perspective. He pointed out that we had reached the point perhaps where we could see the dawn and the morning star, but it had taken mankind a long while to reach the dawn and there was no reason to be discouraged if the high sun did not shine on us at once.

In the afternoon we drove out to Versailles and I think all the rest of Paris decided to do the same. It was such a beautiful day, blue sky and white fleecy clouds. Just walking in the gardens was a joy, though of course, no fountains play at this season.

French people were out in full force, with a good sprinkling of Americans here and there—and I am afraid we are not always welcome. It has been so long that the French have had to act as hosts to more Americans perhaps than they care to have among them constantly. They are so kind to me that I am deeply touched by it, but some things are still very difficult here and visitors, even though they are needed, still must be a burden at times.

The one thing that probably gives the French most encouragement is that there is more food to be obtained. But the cost is shocking, practically as high as in the United States and wages have not gone up anywhere in proportion. Clothes are more expensive. It seems ridiculous, but some Americans told me they bought all their clothes at home and if they did not go home they had them sent over.

The prices here are so prohibitive that only the very rich can afford new clothes. The French women of the fashionable group manage somehow to look beautifully dressed. Also, people of moderate means tell me that even service in the home, which used to be taken for granted, is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Life is not easy for the French people and I get the feeling that the young people are so busy with just making ends meet that they have little time even to think of what the future may hold.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 14, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.