Thursday, January 31, 2008

Real Estate in Paris

While working on a longer piece about Paris real estate, I had a flashback to one of my favorite views of a typical immeuble parisien. I first saw it when studying Balzac in college. It is by Bertall, in Le Diable à Paris, 1845. Intended as a comic cut-away view of life inside a Parisian house, it shows many stories in each storey. Look at the concierge and cook on the rez-de-chaussée. The luxurious life of the bourgeois couple on the 1er étage. Each room is a marvel to analyze. Follow up the stairs.

Finally, in the chambres de bonne on the top floor: bohemian artists cavorting; the umbrella; the weeping mother.

Of course, this is a pre Haussmannian building. Haussmann built seven-storey buildings, usually with balconies on the 2e and 5e etages.

Still an element or two in this illustration that many Paris residents might identify with today, I warrant.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Autolycus said...

That reminds me of Georges Perec's "Life: A User's Manual" - have you read it?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Not that I remember -- I love Perec, but mostly studied his works pertaining to the use of words & letters, like "La Disparition" with no vowel e in the whole work (as I'm sure you know.)

I just googled "Life: a User's Manual," and if it weren't 8 pm in Paris I'd head right out to Fnac and buy it now. Thanks!

blueVicar said...


I love this! And you state it so well..."many stories in each storey."

I didn't know about this. Wonderful!

Meilleurs voeux!!

Unknown said...

La Vie a mode d'emploi is great in describing in detail each chambre, with the histories behind a certain picture, a vase, a key.

Very very entertaining.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Bellydancingknitter, I love your name! So evocative.

I want to go get the Perec book, pronto! Never enough time in the day to read all I want but I do love Perec. Is the life described in La Vie mode d'emploi contemporary (to Perec, that is)?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I bought Perec's La Vie Mode d'emploi today and have been devouring it. Thank you, Autolycus and bellydancingknitter, for the recommendation.

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