Le Voyageur fidele, ou Le Guide des Etrangers dans la ville de Paris. PARIS —, Louis LIGER.
Le Voyageur fidele, ou Le Guide des Etrangers dans la ville de Paris.
Le Voyageur fidele, ou Le Guide des Etrangers dans la ville de Paris.
So much stuff: a guide to material culture in ancien régime Paris

Le Voyageur fidele, ou Le Guide des Etrangers dans la ville de Paris. Paris: Pierre Ribou, 1716.

12mo (157 x 86 mm). [8], 517, [3] pp. Woodcut headpiece and initials, typographic ornaments. A few pages faintly printed, occasional light foxing, minor staining to pp. 280-281. 19th-century jansenist red morocco, turn-ins gold-tooled, gilt edges (extremities scuffed). Provenance: Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn (1870-1939), by descent to her nephew, Hubert de Ganay, and thence to his heirs; bookplate with initials H H.***

A traveler’s guide to Paris in the final days of the Sun-King’s reign, filled with information on Parisian gastronomic and material culture and its many purveyors, First Edition, second issue, with the same sheets as the 1715 edition and only the title reset.

Louis Liger, whose name is given in the title of the 1715 issue (replaced here by the price, quarante-cinq sols), was an agronomist and compiler of several popular works on domestic economy, gardening, and agriculture. The present anecdotal guide to Paris, an outlier in his oeuvre, is narrated by a fictional visitor from Germany, who relates 13 days spent exploring the city: a conceit familiar to modern readers of guidebooks (and the NY Times), but which must have had the snap of novelty then. Each day is devoted to a different neighborhood, starting with the Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame, etc., moving on to the Marais, the Halles, Faubourg St. Honoré, St. Germain, etc., and ending with several faubourgs, all now part of Paris: the hospice of the Salpêtrière, the Invalides, the Observatory and the Champs-Elysées, at the time a pleasant leafy esplanade where masked couples partied and flirted. Described are the churches, monuments, private residences, and inhabitants of each quartier, including local thugs, madames, prostitutes and their johns: the descriptions are interwoven with personal anecdotes (meals, concerts, a mugging, a brawl over a woman, etc.). Following this narrative section are 13 chapters or “Articles” on specific topics, with practical information on lodging and commodities. The first five chapters cover churches not previously mentioned, schools, academies, lectures, private tutors, and libraries, including the Bibliothèque royale (previously open on Tuesdays but now, because of the overflow of books, closed to all except those who “are known and have friends there,” although foreigners are well received [p. 316]), the Bibliothèque of the Abbaye de Saint-Victor (designated a public library in 1654), and private or monastic libraries such as the Bibliothèques Ste-Geneviève and libraries of the Cordeliers or the Jacobins (Dominicans).

Follow a couple of chapters listing hôtels garnis (hotels), and hôtels particuliers (private grand houses). Having dispensed with culture, the narrator cuts loose and goes shopping. The remaining Articles portray a Paris chock full of riches, culinary, sartorial, artisanal, mechanical and artistic. A litany of the many public plazas where markets are held introduces chapters on butchers, the fish market, vegetable markets, cheese vendors, cork vendors (very important), candle-vendors, mouth-watering descriptions of melons and pastries (no need to single out the best patisseurs, as they are in every quartier, and a brief account of the “caffez,” filled with mirrors and lights, where nouvellistes and beaux esprits meet to hold conversations on les belles lettres, to fortify themselves for which they consume prodigious amounts of coffee, chocolate and various drinks no longer known, like rossolis and populo (both made with spirits, cinnamon and sugar). Reluctantly leaving the Parisian table, the author turns to every other item for sale in the city. While individual merchants are not named, the clustering of professions by street in Paris made it easy to advise the reader where to find linen and textiles, haberdashery, fans, ribbons and lace, ready-made clothes, used clothes, tailors, dress-makers, theater costumes, embroidery, tapestries of many different kinds including of gilt leather, tortoiseshell boxes, children’s toys, coffee tins, furniture, mirrors, crystal chandeliers, objets de curiosité such as antiques, porcelain, paintings, shells, or gold and silver-inlaid objects, and the goldsmiths and silversmiths who made them, and conservators who restored them. For simpler needs the affluent male or female reader learns where to find bonnet-makers, glove-makers, perfumers, furs and leather goods. And let’s not forget wig-makers (all 200 of them, on the Quai des Augustins), the many gadgets needed for carriages, weaponry for war or the hunt, garden implements, construction materials such as pierres de taille, and their manufacturers, the metalworkers, glaziers, paper-makers, shoemakers, sculptors, engravers, and architects, and finally, laborers and domestic servants.

Scarce. OCLC lists two copies of the 1715 issue in N. America (Columbia and Northwestern). Dufour, Bibliographie artistique, historique et litteraire de Paris avant 1789 (1882), pp. 322-23.
Item #4057f

Price: $2,800.00