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.
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.
- 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.
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