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duel sable

“Le Petit Journal” November 1st 1902:

There are Apaches of both sexes as seen recently in the rue du Général-Morin. Louise Henin, a beautiful girl of twenty, became mortally angered by Andrée Merle, twenty-three years, for reasons difficult to specify. They resolved to meet in a single combat but refused to choose common weapons such as knives or revolvers. They sought and found the most unusual. Each took a single sock – probably emptied of their savings – and filled it with sand. Then they went into battle with all the wham! and splash! to the amusement of the street. The fight, however, ended abruptly when Louise Henin collapsed after a blow so violent that she had to be transported – in a very poor shape – to the Hotel-Dieu hospital. As for her terrible adversary, she quickly melted into the crowd.

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Parisian house, January 1st, 1843

A Parisian house Click Ctrl+ a couple of times to enlarge your screen

The following text was written by James Jackson Jarves (1818–1888). This American newspaper editor and art critic visited Paris in the early 1850’s and published his impressions in Parisian Sights and French Principles, seen through American spectacles (1852). His humor and the clarity of his writing vividly portray the living conditions in mid-century Paris.

The different manner, in which the Anglo-American and the Gaul build their family nests, is pointedly brought home to the former the night of his arrival at Paris. We live in perpendicular strata; they in horizontal. Our houses stand side by side, each like a tub on its own bottom. Theirs, so far as they relate to families, are spread one upon the other, like a pile of gingerbread. With the exception of the principal hotels, and a few recently constructed in the English mode, Parisian houses are arranged after the following fashion. In general, they form a hollow square, allowing a court-yard of sufficient size for a carriage to turn. This shape admits of two ranges of apartments, equivalent in accommodations to houses with us; the one facing the street, the other the court-yard, the kitchen and other conveniences being the two connecting arms. Houses thus constructed accommodate two families on each floor, and are from five to nine stories high.

 

The ground floor is devoted to shops, stables, and he porter’s quarters. It is entered by a huge “porte cochère,” which is always guarded by the family of the concierge, who acts as agent for the proprietors in letting their apartments, and watches all the outgoings and incomings of the mansion. Each range has its wide circular staircase for the gentry, leading as high up as what was once considered the only abode of genius, and another — small, dark, and narrow, like the worm of a ram rod — for the use of domestics. The porter must be on the ” qui vive” at all hours of the twenty-four, to slip back the bolt of the outer door, by means of a string connecting with his office, upon the warning ring or cry, ” Le cordon, s’il vous plait.” Those who enter after midnight, bestow a trifling gratuity upon this Argus, to compensate him for his disturbed slumbers. He replies to all questions relating to his charge, pays postages, receives and distributes all letters and parcels that have owners within his domain, uses your fuel as if it were his own, and is always ready to do the amiable — for a consideration.

 

The floor above the entrance is called the “entresol,” being, as its name indicates, between sun and earth, and it is generally inaccessible to the former, at any season of the year, except in the widest streets or avenues. Being low, it rents low, compared with the floor above, which forms the apartment Number 1, in height, finish, and decoration, and is, consequently, much the dearest. They then progressively decline in price each story, and also in quality, until they terminate under the roof in a series of little chambers, for the servants of the mansion, two or more of these rooms belonging to each apartment. The apartments themselves are of every variety and size, to meet the wants of the diversified positions of the inhabitants of this metropolis. Some are of sufficient grandeur and sumptuousness to rival the interior of the more pretending hotels, while others dwindle to the means of the most economical bachelor or money-saving grisette.

 

This mode of building has some prominent advantages over ours. Externally the houses are more uniform, of greater size, and being built of a soft gray sandstone, admit of more architectural ornament. They economize also in ground-room and material, consequently in rent. All the rooms of a family being only one floor, much of that stair work of which our ladies complain, is saved. In enumerating these advantages, I have enumerated all, unless it may be considered one to be able to bring together the different branches of a family under one roof.

 

Their disadvantages are more palpable. Each floor having its separate kitchen and drains, contributes its quota to an assemblage of odors, based upon the fragrance of shops or stables beneath, which, in spite of locks and bolts, penetrate with an impartial distribution into every room. This nuisance is not always perceptible, but it is a daily liability; and the plain truth is, that there are few of these gregarious habitations that do not give offense to sensitive nostrils more than once during every twenty-four hours. This fact has doubtless some relation to the enormous consumption of perfumery, which, not infrequently in the street, overpowers all other smells, as the scented individual goes by. Again, no amount of cleanliness in one story can always be proof against a want of neatness in the next. If one family cooks onions, the neighbors above and below are brought into unmistakable cognizance of the fact. If there be a frolic overhead, the family beneath participate in the noise, without the fun.

Next : Looking for an apartment in Paris

Related post: Where the Revolutionaries Lived by Mark Twain

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Banquet des Maires 1900

Banquet des Maires

Who do you call when you need to throw a party for the Queen of England or the G7 summit? There is only one caterer that will do. The firm has a list of experiences reaching as far as 1856 on the occasion of the Prince Imperial’s baptism celebration. Potel et Chabot satisfied the demands of Napoleon III and since then they have been firmly established as the best in the world. In 1900, Potel et Chabot reached a culinary record that remains unsurpassed to this day. The legendary feast is known as the Banquet des Maires. Twenty-one thousand French mayors, including those from the colonies, responded to President Émile Loubet’s invitation to celebrate the success of the Exposition Universelle.

banquet cuisine

The area of the banquet in the Jardin des Tuileries covered 10,000 acres. 24,000 meals were served by the staff of 3,600. One car and six bicycles circulated between the tables to transmit orders. Over 6 miles of table-cloth was needed as well as 125,000 plates, 55,000 forks, 55,000 spoons and 60,000 knives. The nine-part menu was washed down with 39,000 bottles of quality wine including champagne. 3,000 bottles of gros-rouge were allotted to the perspiring staff.

Departure of guests

Departure of guests

I don’t know who paid the bill, but I bet that in today’s economic situation the question would be on every taxpayer’s lips.

A satisfied mayor

A satisfied mayor

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Hubert Sattler: Paris 1867

(From Paris Partout! A guide for the English and American Traveller in 1869 or How to see PARIS for 5 guineas)

 

Recent history

1789 Capture of the Bastille

1792 Republic proclaimed

1793 Execution of Louis XVI

1804  Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor.

At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, one third of Paris had been occupied by ecclesiastical property. Since much of it was subsequently expropriated, and then sold to speculators or retained by state, Napoleon availed himself of an opportunity to beautify the city, opening the rue de Rivoli, completing the Louvre Palace, and beginning the Arch of the Etoile.

1814 Abdication of the Emperor. Restoration of the Bourbon Louis XVIII.

1824 Succession of Charles X

1830 Three-day revolution. Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans, proclaimed King. He completed the Arch of the Etoile, the Madeleine, enlarged the Hôtel de Ville, and repaired many neglected monuments, as well as widening principal thoroughfares. During this reign, Paris was surrounded with the present fortified wall and ditch, and the detached forts erected.

1848 February revolution. After two days’ fighting, Louis Philippe fled, and republic was proclaimed. The words ‘Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité’ met the visitor’s eyes in every direction; they have now been erased. Louis Napoleon, son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland and nephew of the first Napoleon, elected by universal suffrage President of the French Republic.

1851 2 December. Discretion compels us to pass over the coup d’état which took place on this date. Suffice it to say that exactly a year later, Louis Napoleon was elected Emperor by universal suffrage, and the present regime, known as the Second Empire was established. In 1853 Louis Napoleon married the present Empress, Eugénie de Montijo. Since these events, works of public utility in Paris have proceeded at a pace quite stupendous, throwing into shade everything previously achieved in any city of the world. Picturesque but insalubrious quarters of narrow and crooked streets have been cleared, the boulevards extended, railways constructed.

Paris today 

Today visitor to Paris will find a population between one and a half and two million. In 1860 the line of fortified wall which surrounds the city was made the municipal boundary; this wall is rather more than 22 miles in circuit, and has 66 entrances or gates.

The city is divided into 20 arrondissements, with their own administrations, over which are placed the Prefect of the Seine, Baron Georges Haussmann, and his municipal council. The modern fashionable quarter comprehends the bright and brilliant rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, Boulevard des Italiens and the Champs Elysées. The Palace of the Tuileries is the Paris residence of the Emperor and Empress; on the Ile de la Cité are the law courts, central police office, and the great hospital; there is nothing like ‘the City’ in London – the Bourse or Stock Exchange being close to the fashionable quarter. In the Faubourg Saint-Germain, on the Left Bank of the river Seine, stand the vast hotels of the nobility, in which some of the traditions of old French society are maintained; in the adjoining Latin Quarter, many thousands of students lead a life of riot and license hardly to be understood by a foreigner. To the East, in the Faubourg S. Antoine, are numerous manufactories and the dwellings of those who work in them, formerly the hotbed of terror and insurrection. On the outskirts, as in the Faubourg S. Victor, Mouffetard, Belleville &c, are to be found the most wretched of the population; but Paris may at least be proud that it possesses fewer dens of misery, filth and vice than the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road or Drury Lane can exhibit.

Next: Find a hotel

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