One of my dearest friends in Paris is a beautiful and classy Russian girl, and I’ve often heard her evoking the intellectual and artistic relationship shared between Russia and France.
And by doing just a bit of research, it’s not hard to find out that these countries have been culturally intertwined for centuries. Despite some invasions and a couple of tense episodes, both countries have developed a great respect for each other.
Just to give you a hint of history: Catherine the Great, one of the biggest Empress of Russia, had such an admiration for French culture that she made french the official language of her court. Up until the Revolution, french was the official language of the Russian aristocrats and intellectuals. Moreover, word has it that even after the Revolution, Trotsky would read some french poetry in front of his colleagues to show his intellectual superiority.
A more relatable fact on this topic is the origin of the bistrots in Paris. Of course, you are familiar with this typical french restaurants around the capital, but did you know that the term bistrot came originally from the Russian “bystro”, which means “quick”. Apparently, following the Battle of Paris in 1814, Parisian restaurants were full of hungry Russian soldiers demanding food. Their energetic demands created not only an early form of fast food but also an icon of French culture.
If you are looking for a Russian-style place in the City of Lights, I strongly recommend to grab lunch on a week-end at Café Pouchkine (16 Place de la Madeleine), and don’t hesitate to take a tall glass of Mors, a traditional Russian beverage made of berries, strawberries and blueberries. Take a sip and enjoy their terrace view of Place de la Madeleine.