Reminiscing in the Parlor : Leisurely Viewing Stereographs
The Mabille, or Jardin des Fleurs, Paris, France
August 1875
Print Size:
6.875 x 3.375
One stereograph of the Mabille, or Jardin des Fleurs, Paris, France. The photograph shows the main entrance gate. The front has the location name hand written on it and the back has the owner's initials and a short description of the site. Part of the back description appears to be a quote from an 1870s travel guide (see except in the notes section). M. F. H. took a European tour in July and August of 1875, traveling from Belgium to Switzerland, Italy, France, England and Scotland. From other stereographs, it is clear this is from that trip.
These "Boulogne Woods" are a remnant of the ancient oak forest of Rouvray[1], which was first mentioned in 717, in the charter of Compiègne. The lands were given by Childeric II to the powerful Abbey of Saint-Denis, which founded a number of monasteries. Philip Augustus bought back the main part of the forest from the monks of St Denis to create a royal hunting reserve on Crown lands. In 1256, Isabelle de France, sister of Saint-Louis, founded Longchamp Abbey.

During the Hundred Years War, the forest became the haunt of robbers; in 1416-17 troops of the Duke of Burgundy burned part of Rouvroy Forest; Under Louis XI, the estate, now called the Bois de Boulogne, was reforested and two roads were opened through it.

After François I built the Château de Madrid (completed 1526) in the Bois de Boulogne, the woodlands became a site of festivities. The hunting park was enclosed by walls under Henri II and Henri III, with eight gates. Henri IV planted 15000 mulberry trees, with the hope of instigating a local silk industry. His repudiated wife Marguerite de Valois retired to her refuge in the Château de la Muette, in the Bois.

In November 1783, from the grounds of the Château de la Muette, Pilâtre de Rozier and the marquis d'Arlandes made the first successful flight in a hot-air balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers.

The site was made into a park by Napoleon III in 1852; in the following years it was informally landscaped with open lawns and woodlands of hornbeam, beech, linden, cedar, chestnut and elm trees and hardy exotic species, like redwoods. All the formal allées, with the exceptions of the Allée Reine Marguerite and the Avenue Longchampwere made serpentine: there are thirty-five kilometres of footpaths, eight kilometres of cycle paths and twenty-nine kilometres of riding tracks. The upper and lower lakes, connected by a waterfall, were created; the excavated earth was used to create the Butte Mortemart. Between 1855 and 1858, the Hippodrome de Longchamp was built on the plain of the same name.

Harper's Hand-book for Travelers in Europe and The East(Ninth Year)
By W. Pembroke Fetridge (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1870)

[The section on Paris, the longest in the book, covers 74 pages. It begins with a discussion of hotels, then backs up to consider the history of the city and its contemporary political situation, before getting to the attractions. Starting with museums, Fetridge concludes by talking about how to get oneself presented to the Emperor, and where to buy the new clothes one would want to wear on such an occasion. The following two passages are from the middle of this lengthy account.]

The Mabille, or Jardin des Fleurs, should be visited in the evening. Every thing that taste and skill could do has been done to make it a fairy scene of enchantment. In a beautiful semicircular building is seated a well-conducted orchestra, around which the "gayest of the gay" whirl themselves through the mazes of the waltz, polka, and mazourka. As the dances are, as a general thing, considered a little loose, it is unnecessary to say the gentleman traveler is not expected, in company with his wife or daughter, to join in the amusement of the dancers, although we see no harm in looking on. It may be that "chilling reserve" is not a characteristic of the ladies who frequent these gardens; still, every thing is conducted with a proper regard for public decency. Recesses, bowers, and groves every where meet the eye, while multitudes of gas-lights twinkle through the grass, or illuminate the Chinese lanterns festooned from the trees. You have also a shooting-gallery, Chinese billard-tables, a cafe and restaurant, where you may enjoy your coffee, beer, wine, or cigars; admission, 2 francs

Click to Enlarge