Tuesday, 1 August 2017
Nicholas II’s State Visit to France in 1901
Empress Alexandra hung one of Francois Flameng’s Napoleonic theme paintings ‘Reception Compiègne in 1810’ in her Empire Drawing Room (187) in the Winter Palace in 1896.
Nicholas II and Alexandra had sailed on the Standart to Dunkirk on Wednesday September 5th 1901 for a three-day state visit to France. At 4:00 pm they boarded Loubert’s presidential train, arriving at 8:00 pm in Compiègne. Nicholas wrote that ‘along the entire railroad line people from the surrounding towns stood and touchingly greeted our train. Madame Loubert met us in the palace. We stayed in the beautiful rooms of Napoleon I and Marie Louise. We had dinner fortunately by ourselves’.
Aerials, photographs and plans (below) of Compiègne Palace
Photographs (below) of Compiegne
The next day they attended maneuvers near Rheims and visited the cathedral. Returning to Compiègne, they had dinner together again.
On Friday, the troops had the day off according to the program. Nicholas wrote it ‘was a peaceful day for us as well. In the morning we walked to the nearby sections of the park. We were walking the entire time in front of the guards and a string of watchmen. It is unimaginable what precautions they took everywhere here. At 11:00 am ‘our friend’ [Philippe] showed up. At 7:00 pm there was a big dinner with educated people of lesser birth and a show. Everything was over at 11:00’.
The doctor and artist Pavel Piasetsky, a friend of Nicholas, accompanied them on their visit to France.
Piastsky’s painting (below) of the imperial couple in the Compiègne Park
Dinner menu (below) on September 7th (OS) / 20th (NS) by the artist from l’Ecole des Arts Deoratifs in Paris
They left Compiègne to return to Kiel at 4:00 pm on Saturday September 8th after a review of four divisions of 10,000 troops and lunch.
The diarist Alexandra Bodganovich held a salon in her mansion on St. Isaac’s Square where opinions, criticisms, secrets and rumors spread among Saint Petersburg Society. She wrote on September 10th that the day before there were interesting talks with the Russian naval agent Yepanchin who had been in Dunkirk. He found there was little enthusiasm and warmth of feeling for the state visit. All the festivities were colorless. During dinner in Compiègne chaos reigned. When presenting, Mme. Deshanell kissed the Empress’ hand while all the other ladies and men shook her hand. Near the end, the Empress only bowed as she had lost feeling in her hand, leaving the impression of coldness and haughtiness among the guests.