Legible, digital maps of Paris in the 1820s and 30s are hard to come by, which is a shame because the Paris of Les Misérables was a very different place from the Paris of today. Some places have been demolished, especially in Haussmann’s reconstructions in the 1850s; others have been renamed; others still exist but are difficult to find. In this section are a handful of maps of varying degrees of legibility, plus some information and a few off-site resources.
Map of Paris by Girard (1830): The holy grail. Huge, attractive, legible, and from the right time period. Did I mention huge? 12,058 x 7,192, 37mb.
Map of Paris by Collin (1823): Another nice, big, legible one from the era where the novel is set. 13,017 x 8,747, 49mb.
Map of Paris published by Esnault Jeune (1819): In a similar vein to the two above. 10,000 x 7,056, 39mb.
Map of Paris by W.B. Clarke (1834): Captioned in English. 8,518 x 6,374, 19mb.
Map of Paris by Girard (1843): Medium-sized, pretty, contains the whole city. Pity the text is too small to read in most cases. 2768 x 1596, 7.5mb.
Map of Paris by Tardieu (1839): Less attractive but more functional–if you know what you’re looking for, you can usually read the street names. In PDF format; zoom in until you can read it. 4.7mb.
Panorama of Paris (1826): Greatly simplified, but with landmarks (churches, hospitals, markets, etc) clearly marked. 6,994 x 4,750, 7mb.
Map of the Paris Omnibus Routes (1831): A clear but slightly abbreviated map of Paris (some smaller streets and some street names have been left off) that shows the omnibus routes. 3209 x 2457, 2.2mb.
Right Bank, 1819: Excellent little fragment of an 1819 map, showing the Ile de la Cité and the right bank from the Halles to the Place Royale. 1444 x 1067.
“Insurrectionary quarter” of Paris, 1849: A fragment, showing the area surrounding the rue Saint-Denis. Slightly blurry but legible. Site of the barricade is highlighted in red. 768 x 1024.
Rue de la Chanvrerie: Unknown date. Closeup of the immediate area surrounding the barricade, quite easy to read. 380 x 430.
Paris and its environs (1815), military map by Collin. 4,205 x 2,951, 6mb.
Paris and its environs (1841), much more extensive map of the Paris area by Picquet. 4,112 × 3,133, 8.9mb.
Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1717: Has the layout of the town, but street names are unmarked. 1424 x 1054, 290kb.
Rue Mondétour, de la rue Rambuteau (Charles Marville): Photograph of the site of the barricade circa 1865, after the Rue de la Chanverrerie had been demolished to make way for the Rue Rambuteau but before further urban improvements widened the Rue Mondétour. 2028 x 2265. From collections.paris.fr; hat tip to pesquetet on Tumblr for screencapping and piecing together the image.
Charles Marville’s Photographs of Old Paris
Charles Marville was the photographer hired by the Second Empire to document the sites about to be destroyed by Haussmannization in the 1860s. The 500 or so photographs in the galleries listed below are images of a Paris that, for the most part, no longer exists. These are medium-resolution versions downloaded from the City of Paris municipal museums collection; to access the high-res versions as in the photo of the Rue Mondétour above, you’ll have to search for them by ‘marville’ + street name on collections.paris.fr and use their clunky zoom tool, since there’s no easy way to download them. (The divisions by arrondissement in the galleries below are according to the familiar modern numbering system for the Paris arrondissements, btw, not the one used up through the mid-19th century. A distinction that’s probably only useful for nitpicky enthusiasts, but I got thrown for a loop on the Paris collections website trying to figure out which one was being used in the captions, and figured I’d spare any fellow nitpicky enthusiasts the same trouble.)
- Les Halles (the central market neighborhood of Paris where the barricade portions of Les Mis are set)
- Île de la Cité (the labyrinth of tiny, ancient streets here was one of Haussmann’s primary targets)
- 1st and 2nd arrondissements (excluding Les Halles; mostly swanky old neighborhoods around the Louvre and the Bourse)
- 3rd arrondissement (Temple area, including some pictures of Les Madelonnettes mid-demolition)
- 4th arrondissement (excluding the Île de la Cité; mostly around the Hôtel de Ville)
- 5th arrondissement (Latin Quarter and parts of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel)
- 6th arrondissement (mostly the parts of the Faubourg Saint-Germain that would be destroyed by the Boulevard Saint-Germain)
- 7th arrondissement (again, mostly streets in the path of the Boulevard Saint-Germain)
- 8th and 9th arrondissements (newer neighborhoods around Notre-Dame-de-Lorette/Saint-Georges/Trinité/Saint-Lazare)
- 13th arrondissement (Faubourg Saint-Marcel, the Bièvre and the Lourcine neighborhood near the Field of the Lark, demolitions for the Rue de Tolbiac)
- 14th arrondissement (mostly demolitions for the Rue d’Alésia)
- 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements (mostly quarries and demolitions for the Ceinture railways around the circumference of Paris)
Rue Mondétour, entre la rue de la Grande Truanderie et la rue Pirouette (Eugène Atget): Another segment of the rue Mondétour near where the barricade would have been. It might be helpful to consult the closeup map of the area to visualize where this is. 728 x 512. From gallica.bnf.fr.
Paris and its environs, displayed in a series of two hundred picturesque views: Google Books scan of an 1831 guide to Paris for English tourists. PDF, 20mb.
Cartographie de Paris et de sa banlieue: An excellent site which contains many maps of Paris through the ages.
Historic maps, searchable by street name: A subdivision of the above site that lets you input a street name to see close-ups of it on seven maps from 1705 to the late 19th century. The search itself is a little buggy and doesn’t always turn up results, but the concept of a 19th century Mapquest is too cool to pass up.
Nomenclature des voies database: Reliable, fully searchable statistics on every single street in modern Paris, including their histories and former names. In French, but would probably be useable by anyone with Babelfish and a French dictionary. [Seems to be down at the moment, alas.]