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With Nana at Chartier

Rolla par Henri Gervex  ,Valtesse de la Vigne  est le modèle

The brasserie Chartier is one of the cheapest restaurant of Paris.

On the Grands-Boulevard, this institution was created in 1896.
The restaurant is big and the decoration dates from « La Belle Époque ».
At Chartier there is no fuss .
No lounge music, no obsequious waiters.
Here ,it’s lively, the waiters all wear black vests and white aprons.
They are efficient and witty .

Chartier

Chartier

Don’t be surprised to share your table with absolute strangers .
If you are lucky, they won’t stay strangers too long .
The food is classical, very French and very cheap.
The starters are 5 euros and the main courses are about 10 euros a piece.
Chartier it’s authentic Paris, popular and has not changed for 100 years .

 

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I’m sure that Nana used to have dinner here after her theater show at the Théatre des Variétés.(this Theatre is in the charming covered passage of Panoramas ,near Chartier).
Of course, I can not be sure that Nana once ate at Chartier , because Nana never existed.

Nana is the name of a heroine created by the famous French writer, Emile Zola.

Emile Zola

Emile Zola

Nana was the courtesan of the second empire , she seduces all men, even the purest.
Nana personifies sex .
Nana only likes money .
She is a bad daughter, a bad actress, a bad wife, a bad singer and a bad mother .

She has no talent except the talent to bewitch men who are unlucky enough to fall in love with her, fascinated by her incredible vulgarity.

But Nana has existed .
Zola took inspiration several French courtesans to create Nana and to write his novel.
One of them was Valtesse de la Bigne, a « grand -horizontal  » who seduced the most influential men of Napoeon III’s era.

 

Valtesse de la Bigne a famous courtesan who  inspired Nana

Valtesse de la Bigne a famous courtesan who inspired Nana

Louise-Emilie Delabigne was born in 1848 in Paris, in misery and humiliation, she baptised herself Valtesse like  » Votre Altesse »( Your Majesty).
In exchange for the erotic pleasures she gave, her grateful lovers educated her and made her very rich.
Few of them even committed suicide for her.
Because she was a patriot , she offered France the most important instrument in her atelier…her bed. France accepted.
You can still admire it in the museum of art craft of Paris (Musée des arts Decoratifs).

The magnificent bed  of Valtesse de la Bigne

The magnificent bed of Valtesse de la Bigne

 

Valtesse de la Bigne did not like at all to be described as a vulgar hooker, stupid or rude.
Valtesse was neither stupid nor vulgar.
She was friend ( and much more..) of the French painters Edouard Manet, Gustave Courbet and Eugène Boudin,
Her nickname was  » The painter’s Union ».

Ironically, this high- society prostitute represents the bride on the painting in the wedding room in the city hall of the 19th district in Paris.

 

the painting of the weddings room of the city hall of the 19th district ,Paris ( the bride is Valtesse ..) by Gervex

the painting of the weddings room of the city hall of the 19th district ,Paris ( the bride is Valtesse ..) by Gervex

Valtesse de la Bigne by Henri Gervex

Valtesse de la Bigne by Henri Gervex

Zola’s novel ‘Nana” became an instant success .

You can even see how Nana looked thanks to the talented French painter and friend of Zola ,Edouard Manet.
In this painting ,whose title is  » Nana », Manet painted a prostitute whose client is waiting on the sofa in the background.
Because of the realism of the scene,this painting created a huge scandal and was refused at the national salon of French painters .

Nana from Manet  The actress Citron was the modeĺ

Nana from Manet
The actress Citron was the modeĺ

The model is the actress Henriette Hauser whose nickname was « Citron » ( lemon ).
« Citron  » because she was the lover of William of Orange, Prince of the Netherlands.
He also created a scandal because he escaped from the Dutch city,Den Haag ,to live a less boring life in Paris.

William of Orange

William of Orange

The success of the novel was so important that the name « nana  » became a word in the French language .
A « nana » in French is slang for girl and is still very common today .

Valtesse de la Bigne by Manet

Valtesse de la Bigne by Manet

 

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is the description of Nana when she appears only thinly veiled in the third act of the book :

« All of a sudden, in the good-natured child the woman stood revealed, a disturbing woman with all the impulsive madness of her sex, opening the gates of the unknown world of desire. Nana was still smiling, but with the deadly smile of a man-eater. »

 

Chartier
Where ?:7,rue du Faubourg Montmartre 75009 Paris
When ?: everyday from 11pm to 10pm ( no reservation )
How ?: Métro Grands Boulevards, subway line 8 et line 9 , bus 74
Internet: restaurant@bouillon-chartier.com
The best :the mood and the cheap prices.
The less : the queue

Musée des arts décoratifs : 107 rue de Rivoli 75007 Paris

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