Pleasures and Pastimes of the Bourgeoisie


French Gardens and the Bourgeoisie
~ Pre -revolution

~Fashion in Les Mis

~Rise in Popularity
~Economic and Social Symbolism
~Representation in Les Mis

Gardens ~17th Century ~18th Century ~19th Century ~Versailles

Gambling ~Pre-Revolutionary ~Cafés & Cercles

Opéra & Theatre
~The Revolution
~Social Status
~Les Misérables

Etiquette ~Promenade ~Dances ~Dinner ~Casinos and Salons

Bibliography ~Fashion ~Etiquette ~Restaurants ~Opéra ~Picture Bibliography



The rise of the French garden as a bourgeois pastime came about slowly, starting in the early-17th century and gaining popularity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The various styles and themes that dominated gardens in the 17th and 18th centuries gave rise to the French garden as an ideal place for the Bourgeoisie to stroll and socialize. It has been said that the influence of the French garden would continue on to dominate the rest of Europe with the stamp of French culture and aesthetic ideals in a way that political ambitions, and the armies of Louis XIV, were never able to impose.

Vue de Marly, Mongin, c. 1800

This painting shows members of the bourgeoisie as they would have looked strolling through one of Paris' many gardens in the 19th century. This picture shows the garden style carried over from the 18th century landscape garden. This can be seen in the forest-like surroundings which give a very free-form, natural feeling. However, the statue in the foreground and the greek, gazebo-like structure in the background are components of 17th century gardens. Thus, through this painting, one can see how 19th century french gardens compiled many of its previous styles into a garden perfect for bourgeois strolling.

In Paris, around the 19th century, gardens were constructed for public use in an effort to create escapes in the countryside within Paris. There were three distinct types of gardens; private gardens such as the Jardin des Versailles, public gardens of the bourgeoisie such as the Jardin du Luxembourg, and commercial gardens such as Tivoli and Beaujon. In was in these public gardens, such as the one depicted above, that the bourgeoisie pasttime of the promenade became integrated into bourgeois life.

Members of the bourgeois frequented Paris' many gardens in an effort to display their wealth and their "savoir faire." Through proper attire and etiquette the bourgeoisie were able to increase their public image as well as socialize with other auspicoius members of society. To learn about the etiquette used when strolling please follow this link: Etiquette. To discover more ways in which the bourgeoisie attempted to reach the social status of the aristocracy please follow this link: Pleasures and Pasttimes of the Bourgeois.

The nobility also utilized gardens to display their wealth. A prime example of royal gardens is the one at Versailles. A noble could gain status by building large and interesting gardens on his property. The size and the various elements of the garden, such as aviaries, menageries, and fountains were all components of a garden that could speak of a noble's status.

In addition to the social benefits of gardens, doctors began to realize and praise the health benefits of daily strolls in the fresh air. Compared to the lives of the working classes who worked and lived in dirty, cramped quarters, the freedom to spend an afternoon walking in a Parisian garden was a decidedly bourgeois and aristocratic pastime.

To learn more about the history of the French garden see the sites concerning 17th and 18th century gardens.

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