Simanaitis Says

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HAVE A NICE DAY—IN 1947

HISTORY AND a few clues are to be found in this Touristic Guide to Nice, likely used by an officer or solder not long after World War II. The little guidebook and its accompanying ephemera suggest its owner had more than several nice days in Nice.

Touristic Guide to Nice, Monaco, Monte-Carlo, Menton, Cannes & Littoral for the Use of British and American Officers and Solders, La Vaillante General Advertising Agency, no date.

There’s no publication date in my Touristic Guide to Nice; but I’m guessing 1946. My copy contains a bit of evidence of its original owner, including a portion of a postcard dated “ry 3, 1947.” Also, a multitude of transit stubs left in the book suggest the Nice stay involved visits to nearby locales. Several of the stubs, tantalizingly enough, are consecutively numbered pairs. Might the original owner have been traveling accompanied by a second person? A Riviera romance?

I’m guessing further that he or she might have been from eastern Pennsylvania: I found the guide many years ago in the Book Haven secondhand shop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Note the paired trips Menton/Sospel, Garavan/Saint Romain, St. Roman-Monte-Carlo. But singles Monaco’s Casino….]

In addition to the usual touristic text, the guide also has a goodly number of advertisements, many directed to “officers and solders,” some even noting “N.C.O.s Welcome.”

In what follows, based on these clues I concoct a hypothetical itinerary for the first owner(s) of my Touristic Guide to Nice.

This and other images from Touristic Guide to Nice.

The only map included in the guide is for the city of Nice. It reminds me of a press trip to the Riviera when I had opportunity to deliver a particular R&T to a faithful reader living in Nice who had missed that issue. We joked about the superb service of R&T in those days.

Let’s assume our Pennsylvanians are an officer and his bride (or lady friend). If adventurous, they could have hired a Morini cycle or two. “They win all the races.” On the other hand, those transit stubs seem to suggest otherwise.

They might have dined at Maxim’s Restaurant, “The Most select Establishment in Nice,” though my research suggests no connection with Maxim’s de Paris. Like many European restaurants, the Nice establishment touted its American Bar; that is, one offering cocktails of U.S. origin.

If Maxim’s proved a bit pricey for regular dining, Restaurant des Gourments offered a “A Good Meal at 4 francs,” with a half-bottle of wine for only 1 fr. more. The question of equivalency to the dollar is a difficult one: Immediately after French liberation, the U.S. issued the “flag ticket” franc, which General Charles de Gaulle considered counterfeit. This U.S. occupation franc rapidly faded from use in favor of the pre-war French franc. According to historicalstatistics.org, in 1947, 1 fr. franc was equal to $.0084; i.e., less than one cent. The Restaurant des Gourment’s good meal would have cost around 3¢ U.S.

Perhaps the guide meant the maxixe, a Brazilian form of the tango? A Titanic/maxixe connection: First-class passenger Edith Russell amused a baby in her lifeboat with a toy pig that played the maxixe whenever its tail was twisted.

If the Maxicing at Salle-Schiano led to roughhousing, Tailleur Riche was always available for replacing the “Insignia, Badges, Chevrons, Stripes, etc. of all Nations, English Spoken.”

With the uniform once again fit for an officer, dining was a possibility at Ernest’s Restaurant, “The smartest and most Recherché Restaurant in the Région,” with “Special Prices for Officers.”

A trip up to La Turbie was rewarded by a great view of Monaco and “ABSOLUTELY FIRST CLASS Righi D’Hiver Restaurant and Hotel. Also, the Cafe-Restaurant de Paris in the “PLACE” was “Recommended to Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the American Army.” Obviously, there was an American Bar with “FIRST CLASS DRINKS.”

There were plenty of things to do in Monte Carlo, though the annual Grand Prix motor race didn’t resume until 1948, when Giuseppe Farina’s Maserati won. The first post-war Monte Carlo Rally was in 1949, with Jean Trévoux driving a Hotchkiss Grégoire to victory.

As for the Casino: “N.B. The Gambling Rooms can be visited between 8.30 and 9.30 every morning. Access to them is strictly forbidden at all other hours to officers and men in uniform. But Officers are admitted to the Atrium. Entrance free.”

Is it a clue that the ticket stubs are paired to Monte-Carlo, but only singles for St-Roman Place d’Armes/Casino Monaco-Ville? Too early? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018

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