Thursday, May 9, 2013
Haussmann - Jean des Cars
George-Eugène Haussmann was prefet de Paris from 1853 to 1870, and is largely responsible for Paris as we know it today, although the initiative came from Napoleon III.
Dark and narrow medieval streets were torn down, sewages were built to eliminate stagnating water (causing regular outbursts of cholera) while large avenues and parks were created.
This biography was published in 1978 and so is understandably a bit old school, despite the author's ironic and distanced point of view.
I learnt a lot, though, about post-revolutionary France.
Moreover, as many of the Parisian rues, avenues and boulevards were named in the late 19th century - for the reason quoted above - reading about the people bearing their names was a little like taking a stroll around the city.
(Yes, ok. That last one was perhaps stretching it a bit...)