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76 Avenue Mozart, Paris

 

 

 

 

By Steve Brawley

76 Ave. Mozart. Photograph by Patrick Snodgrass for Pinkpillbox.

In 1949-50, Jackie studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

She described this year as “the high point of my life, my happiest and most carefree year.” This is quite something, coming from a woman who was once at the pinnacle of American society. Moreover, the Paris she knew was just coming out of the war years. Housing was scarce and food was rationed. It was not the Paris today’s students see.

She and two other American girls lived at 78 Avenue Mozart, in the 16th Arrondissement, in the home of the widowed Comtesse de Renty and her children. There was no central heating, and in winter Jackie did her studying in bed, swathed in quilts and sweaters. The one bathroom, shared by seven people, rarely had much hot water.

Jackie attended classes at the Sorbonne and at the American students’ center, Reid Hall (4, rue de Chevreuse), and, like most students in Paris, hung out at cafés on the left bank. Unlike most students in Paris, however, she had been queen of the debutantes in New York the year before and had society connections. Every so often she would dress up, put on what her cousin called her “one fur coat” and head out for cocktails with visiting friends. She referred to these evenings as “swanky.” Not a lot of foreign students can pull off this sort of thing.

She also broke a promise to her father by going riding in the Bois de Boulogne. She had once injured her back in a fall from a horse, and he had made her swear not to ride in Paris. Her father was furious when he found out.

The year in France changed Jackie. She acquired some of the tastes in fashion and decorating that she later displayed in the White House and during her jet-setting years.

76 Ave. Mozart, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Brawley (314) 740-0298