A-Z Challenge,  Paris,  Travel,  Uncategorized

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!

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