The Working Classes in Revolutionary France




  • 1830 / 1832

  • 1848

    Works Cited

  • Where did the working class live?

    Boarding Houses




     Boarding Houses

    Workers who were just arriving in the city, whether for the season or forever, typically lived in boarding houses. Boarding houses were usually filled with workers who had come from the same region, and a newly arrived worker would seek out the boarding house from his region. There he would likely receive a warm welcome and help getting adjusted and finding a job.

    Boarding houses typically rented what they called furnished rooms by the night, week, or month. The rooms actually consisted only of dormitory style plank beds. Workers would often be assigned two to a bed with someone they had never met before. They, however, probably saw it as somewhat of an improvement over country life where families typically slept with the livestock.


    This picture shows a cross section of a typical apartment building. The working classes would occupy the fourth and most likely part of the fifth floor.

    Parisian House, about 1850.



    Workers who had families, or who had been established for longer often moved into apartments. They typically consisted of one or two rooms, which might be shared by more than one family or more than one generation of the same family. In addition, they also served as a workshop in many cases. For example, the husband of the family might be a weaver, in which case the looms would be set up around the apartment and the whole family would work on the weaving during the day.

    Apartment buildings of the time were typically large stone buildings with very little light or ventilation. The working class apartments in the building often did not have a fireplace or any other source of heat, and might not even have candles for light. this contibuted to the great popularity of cafes. An apartment building might have shared water and toilet on a landing or in a courtyard which all the families in the building would use. Because all provisions, including water had to be carried up the stairs, working class apartments usually occupied the upper or upper two floors of any building. The apartments might be as high as the sixth or seventh floor.

     The information on working class housing is taken from Traugott, p17-18 and throughout, as well as Maynes.