Saturday, April 9, 2016

A-Z Challenge: H is for Haussmann

Haussmann photo via Wikipedia
Some challenge posts are more difficult than others. H was a letter that caused me problems.

I debated about Hugo, as in Victor Hugo, and discussing the author, his residence (Place de Vosges), and his popular work, Les Miserables. But in the end, I decided to focus on Baron Haussmann, since he is the one responsible for developing Paris into one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities.
Georges-Eugene Haussmann was hired by Napoleon Bonaparte to bring Paris out of the middle ages and into the 19th century. His many accomplishments during this two decade reconstruction period (roughly 1850-1870) included:
  • improve the sanitation and water supply of the city by building a new aqueduct
  • increase the size of the city from twelve arrondissements (sections) to twenty
  • widen the boulevards and add new avenues that connect the central points of interest
  • construct miles of gas pipelines which provided streetlights along these new boulevards and avenues - giving new meaning to the nickname "city of lights" 
  • add green spaces throughout the city where city families could escape the urban noise and relax in the serenity of nature
  •  develop a city code which mandated all buildings adhere to a certain height, similar style, and complimentary paint color to unify the overall aesthetic look of the city
Paris on a Rainy Day - Caillebotte
I adore this Caillebotte painting of the newly renovated Paris: it is as though I am in the scene, walking toward the sophisticated couple sharing an umbrella. I will continue to walk to the building at the end of the road, where I envision is a sidewalk cafe. I will find a comfortable seat, order my salad nicoise, sip my Sancerre, and watch the pedestrians pass by.

While I appreciate many of Haussemann's improvements on a subconscious level, I will say I am most enamored with the wide boulevards which allow for wide sidewalks that accommodate outdoor seating at local cafes.  C'est parfait!


  1. Interesting - I'd never hears of Haussmann before. I like the idea of adding in green spaces to a city - so important. And, of course, I do like having room for cafes on the boulevards so that you can sit and people watch.

    Cheers - Ellen |

    1. We used to live in NYC and it was always special to escape to Central Park - an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle.

  2. He certainly accomplished a lot!

    1. Yes... he wasted no time getting the job done. Unfortunately with all the "improvements" several thousand lower income households were displaced.

  3. Replies
    1. ME TOO! The original is hanging at the Art Institute in Chicago. I wish we lived closer so I could go view it often and escape into 19th Century Paris.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog :)

  4. One never think of this, right? Maybe because here in Italy most of the main cities were founded by Romans and many still retain that structure (well, Verona sure does) I never think that other cities might have gone thtough a complete reorganization in a different era.
    Imagine that! Change the face of an entire city!

    Thanks so much for sharing this :-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  5. Wow Haussemann did so much for Paris, shaping it into the beautiful place it is today. Really interesting post

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Debbie!
      Yes, he really was a visionary who knew how to get things done :)

  6. I learned about someone new! Really enjoyed this informative post. The 'Paris on a Rainy Day' painting is lovely! Thank you! :)

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by - and or the kind remarks :)

  7. I too adore the wide boulevards in Paris. I had heard of Haussmann before in connection with the sanitation improvements, interesting to know that he was responsible for much more.
    Josefine from
    Getting to the end

    1. The wide boulevards are definitely part of what makes Paris... Paris. But the 8 lane roadway around the Arc de Triomphe is much too intimidating for me :)


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