A Day In 18th-century Paris

"Le Pont Neuf" The oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris.

Paris, circa 1780, would have been an ideal situation for an avid people-watcher. Busy, lively streets, everyone with something to do and somewhere to go. I found a rich description of a typical day that might pass by in eighteenth-century Paris. It makes it easy to imagine all the sights and sounds...

"At seven in the morning the gardeners drove their carts away.
At nine you saw the barbers, hairdressers, coachmen and cafe waiters running about.
At twelve lawyers and notaries appeared on their way to the Palace of Justice.
At two carriages rumbled through the streets, taking people to dinner.
At five-thirty there was a deafening noise as everyone rushed to the theatre.
At nightfall the working men made their way back to the faubourgs where they lived.
At nine people were coming out of the theatres and driving here and there. The prostitutes came out.
After midnight there was the noise of carriages going home.
At one you heard the farmers bring their produce to market.
At two the turgotines, those new, narrow, fast stagecoaches named after the Turgot, the Controller General of Finances, rushed through the streets on their way out of the city.
At six the bakers came in from Gonesse, bringing in their bread, and as the day started again the street vendors came out, joined now by a new comer, the lottery salesman, whose tickets were avidly sought for."

Bernier, Olivier. 1981. Pleasure and privilege: life in France, Naples, and America, 1770-1790. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

If that wasn't enough, here is musicologist Mylène Pardoen's interpretation of the sounds of 18th-century Paris.  Close your eyes and you will easily be transported back in time. Via Heather.

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