I have set myself a task for the first half of 2020. I would like to find the places my grandparents lived and worked in France, after their escape from Russia. This much I know:
My grandparents were evacuated in March 1920 from the Port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. They left on the British ship, the SS Hannover, the last ship out of the port. Novorossiysk was one of the final strongholds of the White Russian Army, it fell to the Bolsheviks shortly after this.
The SS Hannover sailed to Constantinople where my grandparents stayed for at least six weeks before emigrating to France. So they must have reached Paris in early May 1920.
That winter my grandparents were offered a jobs at Le Grand Hotel in Le Canadel. My grandfather was to be the manager and my grandmother’s duties included being in charge of the staff and linen. There was no pay, only free board and lodging. Le Canadel is in south eastern France, in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region. On a map it appears to be approximately halfway between Marseille and Cannes. I have postcards depicting Le Grand Hotel but cannot find it with any Google search.
At some stage my grandparents left the hotel. It must have been sometime in 1922 because by November of that year my mother was born in Nice. From jottings I have read, it looks as though my grandparents lived outside of Nice, but my grandmother had to go to the hospital there to give birth. The photo above shows my grandparents with my mother, somewhere in France.
I know that, at some stage, my grandparents moved back to Paris. There are documents which point to my grandfather driving taxis in Paris in 1925. I also have photographs of my grandparents and my mother in Paris, but no addresses. There is also a photograph of my grandfather, with a query written on the back as to whether it was taken in Brionne, which is in the Normandy region of northern France. That is puzzling.
For some of the years they spent in France, my grandfather found work managing a vineyard. All I know is that it was either called Semaphore or it was located in a place called Semaphore. It is possible that it was situated somewhere around Nîmes, although in reality it could be anywhere. I have a letter of recommendation for my grandfather from the vineyard dated 1927. Did they once again leave Paris for the countryside?
By the middle of 1928 my grandparents and my mother were on a ship bound for America. Their lives in France were over.
I hope to be able to discover the addresses where my grandparents lived in France so that, in the latter half of next year, I can follow in their footsteps. I have sent emails to various departments in several regions of France but have, up to now, received no reply. I am lucky to have documents and letters pertaining to this time in the lives of my grandparents, which gives me something to go by. Now to play detective!