Almost two centuries ago, the Cossacks left a western trail in the Urals, founding about 30 settlements in the south of the region, which were given the names of European cities and villages. Berlin, Varna, Varshavka, Leipzig, Kassel, Ferschampenoise – each in honor of military victories in the West. Paris, for example, is in honor of the capture of the French capital during the war with Napoleon. These names have survived to this day, even if there was no resemblance to the originals, and no. Only in Paris, Chelyabinsk, a few years ago, its own Eiffel Tower appeared. It was she who became a kind of attraction, which attracted rare tourists. How does modern Russian Paris look like and what to do there for an ordinary traveler – in the reportage

It is unlikely that I would once have ended up in the Ural Paris, if not for my French boyfriend. Gregoire has been living in Moscow for several years, but every year he goes home for Christmas – real Paris. This time, due to the coronavirus, the tradition had to be broken. It was then that he suggested instead to go to the Urals Well, what, it’s funny. I must say that this is not a tourist destination at all, of course, there are no hotels, no visitor centers, or even Airbnb. Just the countryside. The nearest hotels are in Magnitogorsk, that is, a hundred kilometers away. If you want to stay in Paris or its environs, you need to look for someone from the local and ask them to enter. Fortunately, the people who live there are quite hospitable, besides, foreigners rarely visit them.

We found our host in one of the village groups on VKontakte. And if many refused to me, referring to the crown, then for Greg a real Frenchman the doors opened literally immediately! The first person he turned to was ready to receive us. Although not in Paris itself, but in the village of Ferschampenoise, located 20 kilometers from it, named after a commune in French Champagne (its coalition troops took it a few days before entering Paris). So we quickly took tickets and flew to Chelyabinsk on New Year’s Eve. They bought sparkling wine there, took a car, and went to the places of Cossack military glory. New Year in the UralsFerschampenoise is located about three hours drive south of Chelyabinsk. And if in the northeast of the region the oldest Ural mountains in Russia already rise, then the endless Ural steppe stretches here. Snow-covered, it completely merges with the sky, so that whiteness is everywhere you look.

Ferschampenoise himself despite its magnificent name, turned out to be a quite ordinary urban-type settlement with a school, sports complex Pyaterochka and a Christmas tree near the house of culture. Of the sights – perhaps the stone museum, opened by a local enthusiast. We arrived in the village closer to the night and immediately went to our host Svetlana. She is a rural deputy and, probably, the most active person in the whole Fershanka (as the locals call the village). We celebrated the New Year with her family – her husband, children, relatives.

Instead of the Blue Light (and even Vladimir Putin’s speech ), we had a benefit performance by Greg. It turned out that a Frenchman in Ferschampenoise in the Urals is like some pineapple in Russia during Peter’s time! Now and then someone asked Greg, tell me, please. Then a million different sequels followed What seems strange to you in Russia? What is your favorite Russian dish? And what about the unloved? What do you like about us? What have you not been able to get used to? As a result, on New Year’s Eve, everything was discussed far and wide: from yellow vests to is it true that all French are perverts. The dialogue of cultures ended in the morning, and we wandered off to sleep. The next day, Paris was waiting for us!

The road to the city of love also stretched in the middle of the snow-covered fields. At the entrance, a typical blue sign appeared, which read “the village of Paris. People in New Year’s hats have already been photographed next to the sign. It turned out to be a married couple from a neighboring area who had come to Paris for a walk. People come here quite often, Svetlana says as we drive on Tourists, journalists, and sometimes the French, by the way, do happen. And once there was one of the Night Wolves biker clubs. So he generally carried a croissant and coffee from the Crimea with him in the trunk to eat it with a view of our Eiffe

The biggest influx of guests happens in Paris in the summer: people come to the Paris Half Marathon organized by Svetlana. This is a social project that she, a former sportswoman, has been conducting for five years to support life in the village. Participants run through local fields and finish at the tower. The name attracts runners, and, of course, the building itself.

The Eiffel Tower is still visible at the entrance to the village. Although it is six times smaller than the original (its height is 50 meters), it looks very impressive against the background of adobe village houses. She appeared here in 2005 and performs the same function as her French foremother it transmits a cellular signal. Locals call the tower simply Eiffel although one journalist I know assured me that it also has an unofficial nickname adrenal-matrona.

Next to the tower, there is a column where locals carry cans on sleds and fill them with water. The combination is, of course, unusual. The art object I love Paris, installed in the courtyard of one of the rural houses just for rare tourists, also looks funny. Otherwise, Paris turned out to be quite an ordinary settlement for a thousand inhabitants, with its own school, temple, a small but very cozy ethnographic museum, and also by mail, from where you can send a letter with a Parisian stamp.

The locals, by the way, do not call themselves Parisians. Instead, they say Parisians, and in the singular, Parisian or Parisian. The stress in the toponym itself is also done differently. You have it there in Paris, and we have it in Paris said one grandmother to Greg, Who are they – Parisians and Parisians? It is curious that in Ferschampenoise and Paris live not ordinary Cossacks, but Nagaybak Cossacks. This is a small Turkic-speaking people (only eight thousand people), resettled here in the 1840s from the Nagaybak fortress in Bashkiria. They have their own special language, close to Tatar, their own national costume, their own customs, and rituals.

The Nagasaki is in fact a composite people formed in the 30s of the 18th century to guard the Russian borders in Bashkiria says Svetlana Belorussova, Ph.D. in History, author of the book Nagaybaki Dynamics of Ethnicity. Then they took people of different nationalities but baptized. Ethnically, they are close to the Bashkirs, and to the Russians, and the Tatars, they even have Persians in their blood. The result is such an alloy. When they were moved to the Urals, they began to be called by the name of the fortress in Bashkiria the Nagaybak Cossacks. And already here, in Paris, they formed as a separate people. Svetlana’s husband, businessman Sergei, is from Paris as well. I also speak Nagaybak, he says, but young people no longer know the language. Slowly he is dying, and it’s a pity Children do not want to teach, they say that it makes no sense. Despite strong family ties, the Nagaybaks no longer remember the founding fathers of their villages. They also don’t know which of their great-grandfathers took Paris and whether they took it at all.

It is curious that the French in this sense, everything is exactly the opposite: they can find a lot of data about their ancestors in the archives. Greg, for example, knows that one of his great-great-great- was in the army of Napoleon, reached Moscow, was wounded in the leg near Vyazma, and then returned home, having frostbitten several fingers. And this is just one private story. But France and in general did not forget the few months that our Cossacks spent in Paris in the spring of 1814. So, a year ago, the newspaper Le Parisien, talking about the hooligan behavior of the protesters yellow vests recalled that the barbarians from the north” behaved in a similar way

The publication recalls that the Cossacks set up camp right on the Champs Elysees and the Champ de Mars. They did horse riding, bathed their horses in the Seine, drank vodka, and sang obscene songs, causing wild terror to the Parisians. But then a kind of friendship was struck between the two peoples. The French delivered their verdict: the Cossacks are rude but charming. The Parisian Victor Hugo later recalled that the Cossacks were “completely different from their images; they did not have human ear necklaces; they deeply respected Paris, which was their sacred city. And, as it turned out, he has remained so to this day In 2012, the Nagaybaks even went to the West – on a pilgrimage to the places of their ancestors.

Eternal Return

We learned about this trip from Nikita and Alina, a married couple living in Kassel. This is another Nagaybak village, in which we stopped on the way back, before that we had walked around Paris a lot, took romantic pictures at the Eiffel Tower and ate croissants bought in Magnet. In Kassel, we chatted with Nikita, one of the villagers, who was just unharnessing the horse. When he found out that Greg was French, he immediately said: “Oh, my wife was also in Paris. Let’s go have tea, she will tell you. ” Soon, the four of us sat down at the table to eat homemade dumplings from one large plate (as is customary), and Alina told her story.

I then read the ad in our local, They wrote that exactly 200 years have passed since the beginning of the war, and they offered to gather a group and go to the places of military glory of their ancestors. My husband doesn’t really like traveling, but I immediately decided that I would go. As a result, a company of 20-25 people gathered. Mostly retirees. At first, travel agencies refused to take such strange clients, but still, the tour took place: in a week the Nagaybaks took a bus to Poland, Germany, and France. They wore national costumes, sang folk songs in the streets and, as best they could, told the Europeans about themselves – that they, too, were from Paris, only from another!

In Europe, the Nagaybaks were greeted warmly. In several small towns, they were even given receptions in city halls. The last point of their week-long journey was Paris. There they went to the Louvre, visited the Champs Elysees familiar to their ancestors, and, of course, compared the French Eiffel Tower with their own Well, yes, more, but this is for the whole world, and ours is for us. We had very little time there, Alina recalls, – but it, of course, was incredible beauty! Then I returned home, my husband and I started repairs, and then I bought this wardrobe, – she nods towards the wardrobe with the image of the Eiffel Tower. Let my grandchildren be able to say.

Nagaybak researcher Svetlana Belorussova even made a documentary about this week-long trip called from Paris to Paris. It ends with the words of one of the tour participants: And it seems to me that our Paris is no worse, dearer. We watched the film with Nikita and Alina together. By the end, Greg was so moved that he almost burst into tears. And it seemed to me that I was present at some point of eternal return, where 200 years later the Cossacks go to Paris, and the French goes to our Russia, even get to the Urals. During this time, the cultural gap between the French and the Cossacks has hardly diminished, but the delicate connection has proved surprisingly tenacious.