Paris: City of Light

Parisians View of Themselves


Parisian Salons
 ~Salons of   Enlightenment
 ~Madame de   Stäel         
~Salons of the   Restoration
 ~The Salons of   Victor Hugo

Influence of Printed Materials
 ~Pre-Revolutionary   Timeline
 ~Post-Revolutionary   Timeline


Defining the Parisians
 ~Parisians Viewed   by Foreigners
 ~Parisians   Viewed by   Themselves
 ~Paris Fashion




"O Paris, foyer des idées, et oeil du mond!"

[O Paris, home of ideas, and eyes to the world!]

The Parisians spoke of Paris like it was the apple of their eye. They were not bashful about their enlightened city nor the effects that it had on its people. Parisians were aware of their stature and importance to the rest of the world. Although they were never outright pompous, for that would not be in good taste, the Parisians did see themselves as progressive and great people.

Parisians saw in themselves many of the same characteristics as foreigners. A Parisian was so well defined in their ways that it was likely that they held the same perspective.

    Parisians knew that they were:

        • the best in fashion
        • graceful
        • refined
        • polite
        • hospitable
        • proud

The overwhelming pride Parisians had for their city, ideas, and fashion was often misunderstood for superiority, snobbery, and vanity. However, Parisians did not understand this, because they thought of themselves as a dignified people who simply valued their art, culture, and intellectual ability and were eager to share it with others.

Intellectual stimulation was very important to the Parisians. They saw their quick wit and deep knowledge as a very important and distinctive part of who they were. It shaped the atmosphere of the salons and the tone of their renowned style of conversation.

The view that Parisians had of themselves was high, as they were constantly reminded of their greatness by the rest of the world. However, they themselves were also aware of their unique characteristics, and attributed them to the influence of rich history, culture and modern ideas, which flourished in Paris.

"Ah! It is easy to declaim against the frivolities and vices of Parisian Society, as it appears on the surface...but descend below the surface...and nowhere on earth might the angel have beheld the image of humanity more amply vindicating its claim to the heritage of heaven" (Lytton, Volume II, 444).