• LOCATION 12 | Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    Aïcha Goblet

    Aïcha Goblet on Paris audio tour Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    Enter rue du Parc-de-Montsouris to your right and keep walking. This street features some quirky houses and will curve left, taking you back onto the main street.

    Aïcha Goblet's father was from Martinique, her mother from Belgium, and she became one of the stars of Montparnasse: model, stage actor, and dancer, way before Joséphine Baker. At a time when France was very proud of its colonial empire and represented people of colour mostly through racist caricatures, and even putting them on display in human zoos, Aïcha Goblet was recognized as a pillar of the Montparnasse scene. She was respectfully painted by the likes of Modigliani and Valloton, and photographed by Man Ray. They all recognized her intelligence, independence and professionalism. Then things started to turn sour with WWII.

    Foujita left France again and went back to Japan, and became an official war propaganda painter for the Japanese regime. That’s right, the one that was part of the Axis, with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Later in life, he looked for peace, came back to France, converted to Catholicism and was baptized as Léonard Foujita, after Leonardo da Vinci.

    But not everyone was lucky enough to escape to another country: Aïcha Goblet’s partner, the Ukraine-born French painter Samuel Granowsky, was arrested by the French police along with more than 13,000 people, a third of them children, during the 1942 roundup of so-called “foreign Jews”. In France, this is known as the Vel d’hiv' roundup, after the velodrome where people were kept before being deported. Grabowsky was sent to a death camp just for being Jewish and was murdered there by the Nazis.

    Desnos, the writer who had replaced Foujita as Youki’s primary partner, joined a resistance network. Youki hid him for years, until he was betrayed by French collaborators, arrested in 1944, and sent to a concentration camp. He died there, shortly after their liberation by the Russian Red Army and Czech partisans.

    So sorry to spoil the mood in such a nice, bucolic neighborhood, but this is also Paris: Nazis and fascists, both Germans and French collaborators, killed many, many Parisians and we should never forget.

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Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages