Clemenceau, the Man and His Time

By H. M. Hyndman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
PARIS UNDER THE EMPIRE

PARIS of the early sixties was a very different city from the Paris of to-day. It was still in great part the Paris of the old time, on both banks of the Seine. Its Haussmannization had barely begun. The Palais Royal retained much of its ancient celebrity for the cuisine of its restaurants and the brilliancy of its shops. But to get to it direct from what is now the Place de l'Opéra was a voyage of discovery. You went upstairs and downstairs, through narrow, dirty streets, until, after missing your way several times, you at last found yourself in the garden dear to the orators of the French Revolution, and since devoted to nursemaids and their babes. Much of Central Paris was in the same unregenerate state. Even portions of famous streets not far from the Grands Boulevards, which were then still French, could scarcely be described as models of cleanliness. The smells that arose from below and the water of doubtful origin that might descend upon the unwary passer-by from above suggested a general lack of sanitary control which was fully confirmed in more remote districts.

Napoleon III was a man of mediocre ability. His entourage was extravagantly disreputable. But he and his did clear out and clean up Paris. The new quarters since built up owe their existence in the first instance to the initiative of the Emperor's chief edile, Baron Hauss

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