The Working Classes in Revolutionary France




  • 1830 / 1832

  • 1848

    Works Cited

  •  "From time to time I would treat myself to an evening at the theater. My favorite was the Opera-comique. A one-franc ticket was all I needed to keep me entertained. I would remember a few bits of song and hum them for weeks.

    Jeanne Bouvier, My Memoirs; or, Fifty-nine Years of Industrial, Social, and Intellectual Activity by a Working Woman, 1876-1935. As taken from Traugott p347.


    In addition to going to the cafes, the working classes were also able to occasioanlly indulge in the theater or the opera. Often they saved a small amount of money here and there for months in order to go. When they were able they sat in the upper balconies, above the bourgeoisie, as depicted in the picture to the left. There were several popular theaters in Paris at the time, and the working classes would often attend light comedies or possibly the opera at them.

    On a more regular basis, the working class might partake of a particular game. One example is the Provencal game of boules, which is today commonly known as lawn bowling or bocci, which was a favorite among the Parisian working classes. In boule, each player has a large heavy ball and attempts to place it closest to a small target ball.

    Many autobiographies reported singing as a typical pastime and form of entertainment. Often they sang songs connected to their trade, or patriotic songs of war, such as the one below.

      The last verse of a trade song

    The man who wrote this song

    Was known as Sincerity-of-Macon

    He wrote it while feasting on the livers of four devouring dogs

    And cutting off the head of one of their candidates.

    And on the heads of these cowards,

    He wrote his worthy nom de compagnon 

    taken from Agricol Perdiguier, Memoirs of a Compagnon, as in Traugott, p167.