Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Post-War Michelin Green Guide to Paris

When I go to estate sales, I very often find that people have saved things to remind them of their travels. Not long ago, I came upon a venerable Michelin Green Guide to Paris, printed for British and American travelers.

Someone bought this Green Guide
from a Michelin dealer in Stoke-On-Trent, England.

The Green Guide makes suggestions about where to go and what to see when you are in a certain city, as well as historical information on your destination.

This vintage Green Guide doesn't have a publication date, but the details inside tell us that it was printed after the creation of the French Fifth Republic in 1958. As you would expect, the Michelin folks gave their readers a series of maps and descriptions of places to go and things to see while in Paris.

With gentle humor, we see the iconic Michelin Man taking a seat outdoors at a cafe'.

The Michelin Guide to Paris also gave its readers, in two pages, a concise history of France (a little larger than my flatbed scanner). The left column tells what happened in France; the right column provides context by recounting what happened at about the same time in Great Britain and America.

Giving a brief history of France also -- intentionally or not -- provides a bit of context about just how many conflicts the people of France, and of Paris, have been through.  If we peer at one section of the tiny type, in one column on one page, we can see the French Revolution in 1789, the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1799 to 1814, the Battle of Waterloo, the return of French kings....

...The rise of Napoleon II, the Crimean War, a "brief" Communist revolution, the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, World War II, and the creation of the French Commonwealth in 1958.

I think this information was particularly meaningful to the Mid-Century traveler in France. Most adult travelers in Paris in 1959 or 1960 would remember 1940, when the world looked at the news from Paris and saw this:

Adolf Hitler during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

It was important that they also remember that by 1944, the news from Paris looked like this:

General Charles De Gaulle marches near the Arc de Triomphe after the Liberation of Paris.

Michelin still produces Green Guides, as well as the better-known Red Guides that tell you where to eat when you're traveling. 

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