The Working Classes in Revolutionary France

The Everyday Lives of the Working Classes



  • 1830 / 1832

  • 1848

    Works Cited

  • The fabric of everyday life consists of people and places and meals. Over time they form a pattern and influence the way one sees the world. A person owes their perspective to the situation they are coming from, and the French working classes were no exception. They can only be understood by understanding the circumstances in which they lived: what their families were like, what they ate, how they lived.

    An open air market in a working class neighborhood of Paris.

    L'Illustration, 10 February 1844, p376 as found in Traugott

      While family life among the working classes was varied, as it is today, there were some commonalities. Though many in Victor Hugo's novel, particularly amonst the working classes have very little in the way of family ties most families remained close. Family structure was coming to more closely resemble what we recognize today, but the family remained mainly a unit of economic production.

     Engraving by Flameng depicts a midday meal in 1856.

    Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris

    as found in Traugott
    • The diet of the working classes was neither nutritional or appealing by modern day standards. It consisted of only a small variety of foods, mainly bread, was miniscule in portion by our standards, and consumed the greater part of the family budget.

       Working class housing, while less than perfect, had both its good and bad aspects. Most members of the urban working classes lived in either boarding houses or apartments. While they were usually poorly lit, ventilated, and cramped they were an improvement over the housing situations many faced in the country.