Activities and Sports

Theatres of Paris from the Late 1700s to Early 1800s

Theatres of Paris from the late 1700s to early 1800s were extremely popular, always open, and constantly full of patrons. Supposedly, they were also considered the “idol of Parisians,” but at the time, there were not more than about twenty theatres that provided public recreation for the French masses. Parisian theatres were also known to…

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Felix Nadar’s Giant Balloon or Le Géant

Felix Nadar’s giant balloon, or as it was christened, Le Géant, made its debut on Sunday 4 October 1863 in Paris in the Champ de Mars when it launched at 5pm. The promoter of this enormous balloon was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, better known by the pseudonym Nadar. He had made history in 1853 when he took…

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The 19th Century French Hashish Club Called Club des Hashischins

The nineteenth century French Hashish Club called Club des Hashischins (also spelled Club des Hashishins or Club des Hachichins) was a club of hashish users dedicated to exploring drug-induced experiences, primarily with a resin that comes from the female cannabis plant called hashish (or nicknamed hash). The club was founded in about 1844 and included…

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Silhouettes and Étienne de Silhouette

Silhouettes acquired their name from a French minister of finance under Louis XV named Étienne de Silhouette. De Silhouette had studied finance and economics and had spent a year in London learning about the British economy. According to one nineteenth century reporter, de Silhouette “introduced several parsimonious fashions during his administration a la Silhouette,”[1] and…

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Nine Singing Rules for 18th Century Singers

Singing was a popular activity in the 1700s. One writer noted that when there was a large group of singers, the worst singer was often the person who got the greatest pleasure from the activity. To ensure people got the most pleasure out of singing, numerous song books were published. Among them was one that…

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Hanging Out at La Morgue in 19th Century Paris

Seeing dead bodies for free became an entertaining fad in Paris in the nineteenth century, but before it was a fad, one grammarian of the seventeenth century, defined morgue as an old French word that meant “face.” With that in mind, it was claimed that prisons formerly had small rooms near the entrance where “prisoners…

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A French Subscription Ball in 1801

Balls were a popular diversion in Paris in 1801, and an English traveler to Paris attended a public subscription ball held by a society known as le salon des étrangers in December 1801. The ball was held in a popular hotel in the Rue de la Grange Bateliere, which is today in the 9th arrondissement…

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Parisian Fortune-Tellers in the Eighteenth Century

Parisian fortune-tellers were plentiful in eighteenth century France, and many fortune seekers visited them during the French Revolution hoping to learn if they would keep their head or not. One man wrote that when he visited the Pont Neuf, fortune-tellers regular used a deck of cards to predict a person’s future. However, a deck of…

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French Dueling Codes for Swords, Pistols, and Sabers

French dueling codes were different from the Irish Code Duello. For the French there were three types of offenses: A simple offense. An offense of an insulting nature. An offense with personal acts of violence. If any of the above offenses were committed, the following rules applied. Here they are in their entirety: Rule 1.…

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André-Jacques Garnerin and His Parachute

The word parachute is derived from the Greek word para and the French word chute, which together means preventing a fall. The idea of parachuting originated sometime in the 1600s in the Renaissance period and was soon put into action because by the late 1600s, there were reports of a man entertaining the Siam court…

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