Tag Archives: Hotel Regina Paris

Through His Words: Day Fourteen

11 Apr

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Fourteen
Hotel Regina, Paris

July 30th, 1938

Dear Toots,

Well, I made the grade today and dragged myself to Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on the banks of the Seine River, with a large front courtyard, and hundreds of old and imposing statues in stone on the entrance and the facade.


commons.wikimedia.org (Christopher Kramer)

The exterior is immense, treasures of the church given it by and for the French kings and Napoleon Bonaparte.

One section is set-aside for the keeping of countless treasures in gold, precious gems, etc., which are encrusted on crowns, crucifixes, scepters, vestments, etc. There is one chalice about 2’6″ high, the sun bursts of which are entirely made up of diamonds, each bigger then Doc Vitullo’s pop bottle. On a wall in one of the rooms, there are figures of 228 past popes, each done in cameos with the exact likeness of their faces. These cameos are mounted on a gold frame and pinned on a black velvet background. So much for that. 

Next was the Louvre and Tuileries, immense buildings with beautiful formal gardens. The Louvre is about two blocks in width and about as long as Jackson to Washington Boulevard (just a little hut!)

Louvre: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

Louvre: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

Then on to the Place de Concorde, a large Piazza with beautiful fountains, marble and bronze statuary, and again formal gardens, and then to the Champs Elysees. This is the finest stretch of boulevard in the world, about 2 miles long, lined with double rows of great big old trees, great wide sidewalks, and the smartest shops, restaurants, and cafés on the first story of each building.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

 All of the buildings are six stories in height with balconies and mansard roofs, all stone. Nearly all the main buildings in Paris are about the same height, but naturally vary in design.

A picture I took from the Louvre of Paris shows the symmetrical heights in Paris.

A picture I took of Paris from inside the Louvre shows the symmetrical heights he described.

 All the streets are at an angle, the main ones coming to a point at the Arc de Triomphe. This is one place I can’t get to learn, even with the study of the map. Every few blocks there are circles like you saw in Washington, only larger and each one is properly landscaped with fountains and statues. There is no imitation about anything here as far as the buildings are concerned–marble, mahogany, walnut, bronze wrought iron fences and balconies, are all the real thing. The Arc de Triomphe, you may have seen in pictures, is on a high spot and from the top can be seen all of Paris on a bright sunny day. I hope my pictures come out so you can see, at least in pictures, what I am trying so inadequately to describe in words. 

Benjamin Stäudinger

Arc at Night: Benjamin Stäudinger

This is the real international city of the world. Peoples from every known country seem to be here. There is no particular class or racial distinction. It is not uncommon to see a Negro or Sengalese, as they call them here, walking the street with a white French wife and a couple of children. There is no ban against them in theaters, restaurants or cafés. 

I also went to the street market section today. It is clean and well kept and run by all native Frenchmen. Everything is shown outside on neat carts or bulkheads, but they all yell out their wares the same way. Even the butchers have their meat and chops and fish outside, sliced and ready to be sold. Horsemeat is a common thing here, and out of curiosity, I had a steak from the fillet of horse tonight for dinner. If I didn’t know it was horse me, I would never have known the difference. 

Well, tomorrow I shall make an inside tour of the Louvre and then pack up and get ready to go. Next stop is Interlaken and Lucerne, Switzerland, but I will never forget this city of cities. If for no other reason, it was worth making this trip just to see Paris. 

Here are two incredible pieces of art Alex would have seen at the Louvre (from our 2009 family trip to Paris).


Winged Victory (in entrance To Louvre) blogginginitaly.com


Winged Victory (in entrance To Louvre) blogginginitaly.com


da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

By the way, you ought to be getting my letters starting tomorrow or the next day and I soon hope to get yours. I was dreaming about you last night, and that helped keep me from getting too lonesome. Hope I’ll dream of you every night. Feeling okay, so don’t worry. 

Loads of love, Al

Such a romantic!




Through His Words: Day Thirteen

8 Apr

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Thirteen
Hotel Regina, Paris

July 28th, 1938

Mon Cherie,

Today was the day for my visit to Versailles, about 20 miles outside of Paris. “What a place!” Probably the most beautiful place and grounds in the world. Chock-full of history, arts, and treasures beyond description. Home of Louis XIV, XV, XVIII and last but not least, Napoleon and Marie Antoinette, Madam Pompadour, and others I can’t name just now.



The palace is a large separate building from the one Napoleon used, which is called the Trianon. Then there is the Petite Trianon for Marie Antoinette, and various buildings for stables and royal guests. There is the actual furniture, gold and marble tables, rare bronzes and porcelains, and the carriage that was used for Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor.

The gardens are too beautiful to describe in a letter. I went around with a horse and buggy and it took two hours to ride around the grounds.






There are countless rooms in the king’s palace, each richly furnished to a king’s taste. (Below photos courtesy of Benita.)


Royal Chamber: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

The ceilings are all covered with paintings, most of which were done by the same artist who painted the pictures in the Vatican. You conclude the trip by feeling dizzy and tired, such splendor I have never seen before.


Hall of Mirrors: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

On the return trip to Paris, we took a bus until we reached the Seine, (the river that runs through Paris), and then took a boat which plys the river to the city…a beautiful ride because it allows one to see the many fine buildings on each side, including the Eiffel Tower.

The Seine: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

The Seine: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

EiffelTower: romeisalwaysagoodidea.wordpress.com

Eiffel Tower:

The day was clear and fair and enabled me to take some good pictures both at Versailles and along the river Seine. There are still many decorations that were put up for King George of England on his visit here and I shot a few views of them.

Just two weeks earlier, on July 14, King George VI of England and his wife Queen Elizabeth had made a royal visit to Paris. You may remember the story of his brother’s abdication in the movie, The King’s Speech.

The House of Windsor

The Royal Household © Copyright 2008/09

I had dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant in the Montmartre district and after dinner, spent the rest of the evening walking around this territory which is part of Paris where all the honkytonks, nightclubs and sidewalk cafés etc. are.

Montmartre, dominated by the Sacré-Cœur  (pixinn.net)

Here is real Parisian atmosphere, notorious dives, apache dance cafés with names you read about or see in the movies. Every door is a café of some kind or another, all with little tables out in front filled with people, musicians playing, radios barking, girls singing and dancing, some with clothes on and others with not so much, barkers in front of every place inviting you and telling you their place is the best or worst, which ever you may be looking for. It is Paris, the only city in the world which has such a district where anything and everything goes and nobody cares or gives a damn. I’ll tell you more about it when I get home.

Théophile Steinlen's famous advertisement for the tour of Le Chat Noir cabaret

Théophile Steinlen’s famous advertisement for the tour of Le Chat Noir cabaret

Tomorrow my schedule calls for Notre Dame, the Louvre, Champs Elysees, Place de Concorde, the Opera, and Church of the Madeleine. If my feet hold out, I hope to cover them all.

I’ll say good night now dear until tomorrow.

With Love, AL 









Through His Words: Day Twelve

25 Mar

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Twelve
Hotel Regina

Paris, France
Wednesday July 27th, 1938


It rained most of the day yesterday, the first bad day of weather. I tried to get in touch with my friends here, but found they are away for 10 days. That is a tough break because of the fact it is so difficult to get around not knowing the language. However, my friend has two brothers and one of them volunteered to take me around as he speaks Italian and French. I speak Italian to him, and he interprets it to the French here.

On account of the rain, I did a little window shopping and limited sightseeing. I had to buy a felt hat, as no one here seems to wear straws; they wear either felts, berets, or go bareheaded; and also, there are very few white shoes. 


Photo of Alex years later, still with his straw hat and white shoes.

Tonight we had dinner at the Café DeLa Paix, a well-known place in Paris.

From the Cafe’s website: Ever since their inauguration on May 5th, 1862, the Hotel de la Paix (now Le Grand Hotel) and Café de la Paix are genuine institutions enjoying worldwide fame. Café de la Paix is a restaurant bar exuding Second Empire elegance and proudly displaying its listed frescoes and sumptuous gilding.

from website

from website



Later, we went to the famous Follies Bergère. The show started at 8:45 and lasted until midnight.

That was all Alex wrote about the famous burlesque theatre. I wondered, however, what the show would have been like in 1938, and found this listing on eBay:





Whoa! No wonder he didn’t write anything!

As it had stopped raining after the show, I walked back to the hotel about 1.5 miles, and then to bed and slumberland. One good thing has happened here– I sleep soundly all night and it is of great help because I need the rest for the energy required for the next day. 

Today looks fairly nice and I plan to go to Versailles, the place where the peace treaty of the world war was signed. This is an all day trip and I won’t get back until this evening.

Alex was referring to the Treaty of Peace, signed 28 June 1919, at the end of WWI:


I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Versailles twice, never realizing that Alex had been there before me. And just this month, his great-granddaughter (our daughter Benita) visited the immense and incredible Palace of Versailles, just 15 miles from Paris.

Aerial view of the Palace of Versailles

Aerial view of the Palace of Versailles (Wiki)

Tonight we plan to go to the Montparnasse, the artists’ quarter in Paris. 

Cafés rented tables to poor artists for hours at a stretch. Several, including La Closerie des Lilas, remain in business today.

Cafés rented tables to poor artists for hours at a stretch. Several, including La Closerie des Lilas, remain in business today. (Wiki)

I haven’t seen much so far, but the city promises to show me more than I had expected to see, so I may stay here a day longer and take it out of some other town… “Pietrabbondante” or “Ricigliano” etc.???

This, of course, was in jest as Alex was referring to the southern Italian towns where his and Maude’s ancestors were from. If nothing else was accomplished on this trip, Alex had promised Maude that he’d get to those two towns.

I wonder how everything is going at home. I am anxiously waiting to hear from you and get some news. Your letters will be so welcome on this trip.

Well, darling, I’ll write you again after my visit to Versailles. So goodbye for the moment and millions of hugs and kisses to you and ours.

Lovingly, Al






Through His Words: Day Eleven

26 Feb

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Eleven (no letters written days 9-10)
Hotel Regina


Paris, France
July 26, 1938


Landed in Paris late last night from Cannes, about a 15 hour ride as Cannes is on the French Riviera while Paris is some 600 miles north. I did not write from Cannes and I was so tired after visiting Monte Carlo, Nice and the Riviera. I left for Paris at 8:35 AM and thought I’d write on the train, but the vibration was so great I could not write at all.

Alex was staying at the Hotel Regina in Paris, which opened in 1900. It sits across the street from the Louvre and is still considered one of the beautiful hotels in Paris. From its website: “Created by art lovers and patrons, the Regina opened in time for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and is still managed by the Bavarez family, which founded it.”

Well  here goes a little description of this country –  The French Riviera, which includes the coast on the Mediterranean, is simply gorgeous – fine villas amid palm tress, roses, and other flowers along the road, buildings set up on mountain sides, cliffs, and seashore, mostly white and pastel shades of pink, green and blue – all have gabled tile roofs. Hotels of the most pretentious types. Mackinaw Island Grand Hotel is a piker compared to some of them.
I went to church Sunday in Cannes at Notre Dame de Bon Voyage. I realized I was really in the old world, so different were even the services.
After Napoleon escaped from Elba, he is said to have spent the night in Notre-Dame de Bon Voyage.

In Monte Carlo, I went into the world-famous Casino and saw every room in the place with different gambling devices. 

I played 20 frames (about 60c our money) and got a 5 franc chip to take home as a souvenir. I could not take a picture inside as they take the cameras away from one before he is allowed inside. The place is everything it was cracked up to be, beautiful. 

Interestingly enough, 33 years later, I walked in Alex’s steps not knowing he had visited the French Riviera. And, like Alex, I was equally taken by the magnificent sights, albeit as a student who was definitely not staying at Hotel Regina. What I do recall, however, is that my Rome roommate Jan and I went to Monte Carlo and Monaco for a weekend. At the casino, we dropped a few coins in the slot machines in the foyer, as you had to be 21 to actually gamble inside (not that either of us knew how anyway!) Our highlight was a tour of the casino by two handsome security guards we must have flirted with. Besides the ornate gambling rooms, we actually saw the ballrooms where Princess Grace (Kelly) and Prince Rainier entertained and danced.

The one thing that is so fascinating is the contour of the land and the abundance of flowers of every description, and great palm trees, as well as other trees not seen it home. 

DSWorld© 2014 Created with the assistance of Roman Pashkeev.

DSWorld’s Lands © 2014 Created with the assistance of Roman Pashkeev.

Remember the winding drive in the mountains just before we got into New York along the Hudson river? Well, picture that, and add the flowers, palm trees, etc., and the colorful villas along the slopes, with the blue Mediterranean instead of the Hudson, and you have a good picture.

© 2014 Created with the assistance of Roman Pashkeev.

DS World’s Land © 2014 Created with the assistance of Roman Pashkeev

Reflecting on Alex’s trip made me head to storage and pull out the 40+ year-old boxes that contain the slides of my year in Rome, a true journey back in time. Alex mentioned that he had also gone to Monaco, and these are photos of a few of my slides from the Monaco Palace…




as well as a photo I took of the vista Alex describes.


I just got up and haven’t had a chance to see anything in Paris as of yet. I intend to call up this man Azzaroni in a little while and hope I find him because it is a hell of a handicap not knowing the language and trying to make yourself understood.

It is raining out, the first rain since I left home, and it looks dreary but I hope it won’t last long so that I can start out on my sightseeing. Remember, I am expecting to hear from you soon and don’t wait too long after your first letter to write another!

Lovingly as ever,

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x to you and my children



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