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c-cat

When one lives in Paris, nothing is as difficult as staying at home. The city contains so many enticing spectacles, free or paid entertainment, that the temptation often becomes the strongest and that one abandons one’s home, attracted as we are by the charm of the street. We do not know what we are going to see, but we are sure we will see something, and that something will be new. Curiosity is so strong in Paris that the trees themselves undergo it and set themselves in motion.”

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ACROSS PARIS by Crafty

So said Crafty, whose real name was Victor Eugène Géruzez (1840 – 1906). This graphic artist, painter, draftsman, and author of literature for youth, authored several picture albums depicting life in Paris in his humorous style. Let’s see how trees moved in Paris (and still do) as well as other spectacles, most of them completely free.

 

 

 

 

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Fire!

 

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The Aftermath of Fire

 

WEDDING

A Wedding

 

C-all

The Omnibus Station 

 

 

 

c-poster men

Poster Men Taking a Lunch Rest

 

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c runaway

A Runaway Horse

 

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A Guided City Tour

 

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c-averse

A Downpour

 

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c-AT THE CONFISEUR ( Boulevard de la Madeleine )

At the Confectioner’s

 

c-AT THE BOOKSELLER ( Boulevard des Italiens )

At the Bookseller’s / Food for the Mind

 

C-AN ACCIDENT ( Rue de Rivoli )

Running on Empty

 

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Traffic-Stopping Street Hygiene

 

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The Suburban Train

 

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After Midnight

 

Related post:

Events in the Street: Female Duel with Sand-Filled Socks

A Traveler’s Bonus:  The Most Beautiful Metro Stations in Paris

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savon

The most popular soap in France, an olive oil-based one, came from Marseille

 

In Jacques Takes a Bath, posted here in October 2014, the American humorist Irvin S. Cobb sank his teeth into the French reluctance to bathe. Although exaggerated to the point of absurdity,  Cobb’s article had a grain of truth in it. Bathing was not central in the mind of the ancestors and the history of the bathroom is a very recent one. The air in public places was not always filled with deodorant fragrances. Quite the contrary, the 19th-century streets were pungent with horse dung and various unmentionable odors emanating from many of the passers-by.

The French being French, they do find in their vocabulary something glamorous for the simplest or lowest of things and occurrences. Thus, a mole is the grain of beauty (le grain de beauté), les Petits Pois Bonne Femme is French for peas with butter and la crise de foie (the liver crisis) is a dramatic euphemism for indigestion. By the same token, the body odor becomes l’odeur du sable chaud. The scent of hot sand. We can’t beat the French at the savoir vivre, can we?

bidet

The bidet

The Americans visiting Europe justly complained about the lack of modern comfort but, to be fair, the French had their bidets to stay clean where it counted. The sight of the bidet as part of the bathroom furniture scandalized the Anglo-Saxon Puritans. The luxury cruise ship Le France, built in 1957 (yes, there were still Puritans in 1957!) for carrying passengers between Le Havre and New York, remained bidet-less for the very reason.

The first bathrooms—that is rooms fully devoted to personal hygiene—appeared at the beginning of the century but they remained the privilege of the very rich for the next one hundred years. The discovery of harmful microbes by Louis Pasteur accelerated the shift toward better personal care.  Toward the end of the century, the idea of a fully equipped bathroom entered the advertising business.

 

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This ad offers a complete bathroom equipment starting at 250 francs. For this price, you would get a bathtub, a sink, a water tank, a foot bath, a sitting bath and a Scotch shower

 

 

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Dating from the turn-of-the-century, this ad humorously conceives the bathroom as a luxury reception room

 

We can hardly imagine life without a bathroom, but this state of things remained a reality for many Europeans well into the 20th century.

 

Related posts:

The Belle Epoque Lifestyle: Alimentation

The French Art of Peeing without Getting Wet Feet

 

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