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Maps of Paris

This richly detailed map of paris is called the "plan Turgot" (published in 1739) and was commissioned by Michel-Étienne Turgot, the provost of Paris (head of commerce) to promote the city. It shows the Paris of the 1730s with relatively accurate dimensions. 

This is a close-up shot of the Plan Turgot. It shows the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis, the Île de la Cité, and parts of the Left and Right Bank. The mapmaker purposefully depicted Paris as resource-rich and bustling, with Venetian-looking boats crowding the banks of the Seine. Notre Dame de Paris is near the centre of the map. Just outside the frame of this detail is images of huge piles of lumber and other raw resources, meant to show off Paris' ability to consume.

This modern map shows some of the main features of medieval Paris: the Palace, Notre Dame, the Abbey of St. Germain, the Louvre fortress, and the University of Paris district.

This is a modern linguistic map that shows the historical language groups of France. The main division was between the south, where Oc dialects were spoken, and the north, where 'French' (or 'oïl') languages were spoken. The dialect of Paris, which became the main dialect of the country, was merely one of many oïl dialects. But within the kingdom, there were other languages spoken, too: Celtic Breton (west), a Germanic dialect called Alsatian (east), Flemish (in the north), Basque (a non-Indo-European language of mysterious origins) and Catalan (both in the south), an Italian dialect in Corsica, and Franco-Provençal (in the east, sandwiched between Oc and oïl domains). In the 19th century, the French state repressed many of these languages and dialects in an effort to impose a standardized language and identity on the country.

This modern map shows the many different walls that have surrounded Paris over time. There were some walls during the Roman period, but the first major wall was built under Philippe Auguste. As the city grew and spilled over its boundaries, old walls would be demolished and replaced by new ones that enclosed a larger territory. The walls were largely for protection, but some were meant to help with the collection of customs duties. The last wall was demolished in the 1920s. Some small portions of these walls remain here and there, sometimes as exterior building walls. The traces of the past are everywhere in the great city.

Baron Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine Department from 1853 to 1870, dramatically redesigned Paris with the approval of Napoleon III. The straight red lines represent some of the new "grands boulevards" that cut through the medieval labyrinth. The new streets were wider, straighter, and often lined with buildings of uniform height and style ("Haussmann style"). The redesign was also an assault on working-class Paris. Homeowners and apartment dwellers were given little notice of demolitions, and often went uncompensated for loss of property. Many of the new streets were built with revolution in mind. They enncircled working-class neighborhoods with wide streets so that soldiers could use them to put down uprisings. Ultimately, the redesign was meant to help the upper classes and the state. And it did.

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