Drawing on testimony from a great range of witnesses—from Balzac and Hugo to assorted boulevardiers, rabble-rousers, and tramps—Sante, whose thorough research is matched only by the vividness of his narration, takes the reader on a whirlwind tour. Richly illustrated with more than three hundred images, The Other Paris scuttles through the knotted streets of pre-Haussmann Paris; through the improvised accommodations of the original bohemians; through the massive garbage dump at Montfaucon, active until 1849, in which, “at any given time the carcasses of 12,000 horses . . . were left to rot.”
A wildly lively survey of labor conditions, prostitution, drinking, crime, and popular entertainment, of the reporters, réaliste singers, pamphleteers, and poets who chronicled their evolution, The Other Paris is a book meant to upend the story of the French capital, to reclaim the city from the bon vivants and the speculators, and to hold a light to the works and days of the forgotten poor.