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Les Enfants Terribles
The pleasures of smoking in the sixties  
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Did no-one smoke these? My girlfriends Patricia did from time to time. They were fairly popular I think - especially when one had a sore throat. Are smokers mad? I used to smoke these and other light or menthol ciggies when I had a cold! Madness!
Philippe ETIENNE  I did smoke these menthol ciggies in the late sixties, but not often. I'd rather smoke Gauloises or Gitanes. I definitly stopped smoking in 1975, when we got sure tobacco was carcinogenic.


Jon just sent me these memorable pictures. Well somebody other than us two must remember them!
jon f  I used to bring in these Belgian ciggies in from Ostende via Silver City Airways Car ferries to resell at inflated prices to the Belges at "Peguy" in Leicester Sq.and Countdown in Newman St where Jean-Pierre ex Samantha's & Poubell 3 was the manager.


Paul Marioni has kindly sent me this picture of a packet of Gauloises "papier maïs". What memories! Mostly unpleasant ones.
jon f  Bought a pack at Le Drugstore . (Champs). Papier Mais would go a;ways out and had to be relit. Mais appealed to lower classes who seemed to retain it half smoked unlit on one lip.


During the entire life of Les Enfants Terribles it seemed to be the norm to smoke; non-smokers were regarded with suspicion and perhaps fear? They were certainly considered a little odd and definitely eccentric. Funnily enough I believe Jean-Claude never smoked but I don't remember any other non-smokers. Every little table had it's little ashtray and they had to be emptied pretty often. The candles in their bottles had to remain lit and the puddles of wax on the tables cleaned up. It was always crowded in the evenings so the waiters' job couldn't have been easy and they really couldn't have made much money - or did they?
Adrian  smoking too can now take your comments


Pasquale Marioni  maryland fro me


Lorraine Michelle   Wow, you were all such cool smokers. I had to smoke Embassy because my mum was collecting the coupons. What humiliation!


carol  Rothmans and then Benson & Hedges


jon F  Gauloises Filtre or Gitanes ( used to fold back the front of the packet to show a blue line as did Adrian


Sharyn  Rothmans, St Moritz if I had a cold (menthol) and sometimes those pretty coloured cocktail cigarettes. I stopped smoking 30 years ago!S




Jon F  With all that 1st & 2nd hand smoke it is a wonder we did not end up as kippers!! I had to laugh at Lorraine's mum collecting the Embassy vouchers,
after all, they did give away good prizes. Money was money back then even if you had risk nicotine poisoning to get them!. Different times, different value


Carol  First smoked players weights took them from mum. Then came rothmans took them sister. Then Benson & hedges cause I liked the box!!!! Finally quit 15 years ago.... But still fancy one!!


Pasquale Marioni  no more fun in smoking out in the street, i know its bad but during those days it was an absolute pleasure dancing your way around the fog ...


cilla  We smoked Kent, Marie always had a ready supply from the PBX !


This is an example of what I mean...
jon  How cool,and sexy it was back then. Certainly sensuous, As the old joke goes, Q" do you smoke after sex?" ""A" I don't know, I never look !!"


Although my smoking career began early and I think with fags nicked from my mothers purse I eventually ended up a dedicated Gitanes fan. Just loved everything about them. I must have settled to the brand some time around the the same time I discovered Les Enfants. A coincidence?
jon F  The image i redolent of a pre-war and art deco France. I think that is why I like the package, a nostalgia for times past I would never have known.


I can remember smoking Embassy, which was my mother's brand, John Player Special, Dunhill, Prince , Camel and Pall Mall - oh and of course Sobranie Black Russian but that was surely in my early teens when we'd gatecrash all kinds of parties including once some fancy affair to do with the Festival of London (?) it was definitely at that place on the river anyway!


Jonny I think smoked Gauloises filter-tipped and was not put off by the expression "clopes au tampax" but I definitely was - didn't want to stick anything even remotely connected with the "curse" in my mouth! No, but really those soft, often soggy white filters were quite disgusting. Makes me shiver still and I haven't had a smoke in 21 years today! Yep I quit 12 noon, 4th July 1990. Or rather I put out a cigarette and haven't lit another since - never did stop. The pack, not empty by any means and the matches were with us for quite a few years before being disposed of because it just contained old dust. So no, I didn't give up smoking nor stop but just delayed lighting the next one for so far 21 years. Still miss it mind you.
jon f  Disque Bleu was the first French ciggy that I smoked, That first drag nearly blew my lungs out!! Quiet a smooth smoke once I got used to them


Sheila   I was a social smoker, only when I went to the clubs and used to smoke the Disque Bleu and also Dunhill, cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, thought I was so cool until I got inflammation of the lungs at 21 which made my mind up for me to quit smoking.


Jon F  I was a social too, it was the thing to do , but thank goodness I gave it up in 1975 when i realized how looney it was. It was only in 1990 or so when it was banned in the office, all those meetings in a haze,


Dario Ciriello  Disque Blue filter were my long-term favourite, too. I tried all the other usual Virginia offerings, but French cigarettes had so much sheer flavour. I always found Gitanes somehow too dry...


Dario Ciriello  And I miss it, too. I'm actually one of those people today who can smoke a cigarette a night socially and never get hooked again; until a few years ago, I still did.....but you can't get DB in the US anymore, and they're honestly the only cigarette I like!


Phil Davey  I smoked DB as a teenager, they were more expensive than UK brands but were in a different league.To me they were Paris and Soho. To me the most memorable smells to on any street in Paris was the overpowering melange of Gauloise, Coffee and the exhaust from 2 stroke mopeds zipping past. This was repeated occaisionally when the three scents would come together strolling past Bar Italia, Bertaux or the Algerian Coffee Shop. Heaven. I gave up in 1972 when in the budget fags and petrol went up to 3s/4d and 3s/6d respectively. I couldn't afford both. Scandalous.


On special occasions, whatever they may have been, I'd buy Celtiques. I'm convinced there was another powerful brand but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. The "papier maïs" varieties I never got on with as they'd always go out and you'd have to relight them and relight they tasted weird - not too nice as I recall.
jon f  Bought a pack in Old Compton St just to be different and match my erstwhile persona


Of course! Boyards! A real mouthful they were. I wonder who they were made for? Steel and asbestos lungs were required I think as they were both hot and powerful containing enough tar in each packet to resurface the length of Dean St. But I think I liked them! It must be said that the smell of caporal tobacco is far sweeter and alluring than that of the virgina variety. Bit like the Dutch pipe tobacco in that sense except the caporal cigarettes tasted good too - could never get on with tht Dutch pipe tobacco - l did like my Baby's Bottom - a genuine brand I assure you.
jon F  Saw these in the window of the tabac in Old Compton St. Have to agree with Adrian, too strong for any human to endure, I remember Babys Bottom ver smooth smoke, I used to like Edgworth (US) and Players Whisky Flake.


Jonny's found this brand: St Michel used to be advertised on RTL as “la cigarette bien connue aux fumeurs Belges”.
Jon f  I would buy these in Belgium and quite liked them . They had a strange mix of french and virginia unmistakably Belgian smell and taste. Much more smokable than Johnson (very strong) or Belga (very Belgian )


...and this brand
...and this brand tipped
...and marketed in Switzerland
I've failed miserably to find a picture of the first French gas-lighter - my big bruvver brought one home from France around 1960 I think. That model I believe was called "Cricket"; coming from France that was a very odd name come to think of it. This is the closest model to it I could find and it's from much later. The petrol lighters; particularly the Zippo and the original Dunhill had some class but the new gas-lighters even fitted into the cigarette packets once you'd smoked a few.
Now I've found (actually presented with by a friend) what may well be a Cricket lighter though it's called a "Stick - Made in France! on the bottom. Any opinions? It looks very much like one, doesn't it? But I'm somehow not sure as I'd have thought it'd have said "Cricket" on the bottom.

Les briquets à gaz sont les plus courants : produits en quantité industrielle dès les années 1960, notamment par le fabricant Cricket et plus tard Bic, ils consistent pour la plupart à provoquer l'ignition d'un gaz inflammable, souvent du butane.
This, as the French say, must be the apotheosis of the disposible lighters. Perfection indeed. One of its leading characteristics was that it was so cheap. I really don't know how many gold and silver Dupont and Dunhill lighters I've owned and had stolen - at least two were stolen because I was careless and I learnt an invaluable lesson - if you don't have anything to steal, nobody'll try and steal it!
jon f  These are still favoured by those who still smoke, still cheap and ubiquitous


Right then so this is a typical silver Dupont of the period...
...and this a typical silver Dunhill.
Pasquale Marioni  i still have my Dunhill, long since redundant for me but my wife Joan (met her in '66) still uses it fully


Adrian  Well done! As I said all of mine were stolen!


Pasquale Marioni  this was the third one plus a tortoisehell Du Pont


And how did we light our fags? That's a real chapter of its own that is. Matches? This was the age of the book-match and they really were practical but there was no real style to them, was there? Swan Vesta's were fun as they could be struck on any surface and the real cool cats could even strike them on their thumb nails - we'd seen that in the cowboy films but I could never do it - got nice red stripes on my jeans though from striking along the seam. Bryant & Mays? Well you might as well bring a household box for the kudos they'd give you!

And of course pockets were in short supply in those days and a bookmatch took very little room - bumped into some American sailors in a pub one day and saw they kept their cigarettes in their socks! Well I was sold, wasn't I? Had to be a soft pack, like Gauloises or in their case, Camel, but saved carrying a hand bag!
Bob Kelly  Came to LET as an American sailor in October 1960. My ship was visiting Portsmouth after taking part in NATO naval manoeuvres known as Operation Sword Thrust. This from a letter home to my parents written on October 20.

"I haven't told you anything about England, but without a doubt it was the best liberty port I've ever been to. We were there for seven days and I made the 74 mile trip to Londonand the return 6 times for a total of 7 days there. I had one overnight then which accounts for the difference. The second day there we found this little place called "Les Enfants Terrible", an espresso coffee house with a pace to dance downstairs. It cost 20¢ to get in which also entitled you to a Coke, and that's all it was necessary to spend. All they had was Cokes anyway. We met a bunch of kids, all around my age, and made pretty good friends with all of them. I had a much better time with them to show me around than if I had just wandered by myself. One of them was even royalty, an Ethiopian prince who was studying in London. He was no different than anyone else though, just one of "the gang"."

Picking up the thread here, we bought cigarettes aboard ship for 90¢ a carton of ten packages of 20 cigarettes. I'm sure we must have shared them with our new mates, but I don't recall them as being very popular. I almost forgot about keeping them in a stocking; thanks for the memory.

p.s. Does anyone remember a girl called Gillian, or maybe Jillian, from this time. Hers is the only name I have any real memory of. I must have been attracted to her.


jon f  What a happy memory Bob, thanks for sharing with us the "good old days"


Steve knight  More memories of the "good old days" - I first experimented with cigarettes in my pre-teens by picking up "dog ends" in the street and rolling the tobacco residues in Rizla papers - pretty disgusting! Then after I started work I graduated from cheap Woodbines to the regular brands and finally via Gauloise discovered Gitanes which suited my Francophile nature. Have great memories of sitting in the Champion Pub (Wells Street just north of SoHo) watching the soft clouds of Gitanes smoke undulating in the sunlight streaming through the stain glass windows. Nice aroma and the beer was good too! Does anyone remember how cool it was to flip the top of a Zippo lighter and in the same motion strike the light?

Stopped three times, last time about 15 years ago but if I knew for certain the day I was going to pass on the first thing I would do is buy a pack of Gitanes!


Peter lusted  I remember ethe sailors arriving, and if I remember, one of them smuggled a bottle of scotch downstairs,non of the crowd really drank so was a bit of a waste, and yes Jill was one of the crowd she was attempting to become a model, the Ethiopian prince name was Boyce


Robert Kelly  "Peter lusted I remember ethe sailors arriving, and if I remember, one of them smuggled a bottle of scotch downstairs,non of the crowd really drank so was a bit of a waste, and yes Jill was one of the crowd she was attempting to become a model, the Ethiopian prince name was Boyce"

Thank you Peter, my faith in my salad days memories is confirmed.


And before we go just a mention of the very popular German brand HB. Well not popular at Les Enfants as far as I remember but they were big in Germany - we didn't get too many German tourists - does anyone remember why that might have been?
jon  Tried them once of twice, nothing spectacular; German youth in the 60's still carried national guilt and seemed to be very quiet. Their parents preferred the Costa Brava playing water polo in the pool