Paris: With Pen and Pencil eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Paris.
whom he made similar bargains.  Upon this he established a bakery, extending his operations till there was scarcely a restaurant in Paris of which the sweepings did not find their way to the oven of Pere Fabrice.  Hence it is that the fourpenny restaurants are supplied; hence it is that the itinerant venders of gingerbread find their first material.  Let any man who eats bread at any very cheap place in the capital take warning, if his stomach goes against the idea of a rechauffe of bread from the dust-hole.  Fabrice, notwithstanding some extravagances with the fair sex, became a millionaire; and the greatest glory of his life was—­that he lived to eclipse his old master, the rag-merchant.”

The same writer also gives a graphic description of one class of restaurants in Paris—­the pot-luck shops: 

“Pot-luck, or the fortune de pot, is on the whole the most curious feeding spectacle in Europe.  There are more than a dozen shops in Paris where this mode of procuring a dinner is practiced, chiefly in the back streets abutting on the Pantheon.  About two o’clock, a parcel of men in dirty blouses, with sallow faces, and an indescribable mixture of recklessness, jollity, and misery—­strange as the juxtaposition of terms may seem—­lurking about their eyes and the corners of their mouths, take their seats in a room where there is not the slightest appearance of any preparation for food, nothing but half-a-dozen old deal-tables, with forms beside them, on the side of the room, and one large table in the middle.  They pass away the time in vehement gesticulation, and talking in a loud tone; so much of what they say is in argot, that the stranger will not find it easy to comprehend them.  He would think they were talking crime or politics—­not a bit of it; their talk is altogether about their mistresses.  Love and feeding make up the existence of these beings; and we may judge of the quality of the former by what we are about to see of the latter.  A huge bowl is at last introduced, and placed on the table in the middle of the room.  At the same time a set of basins, corresponding to the number of the guests, are placed on the side-tables.  A woman, with her nose on one side, good eyes, and the thinnest of all possible lips, opening every now and then to disclose the white teeth which garnish an enormous mouth, takes her place before it.  She is the presiding deity of the temple; and there is not a man present to whom it would not be the crowning felicity of the moment to obtain a smile from features so little used to the business of smiling, that one wonders how they would set about it if the necessity should ever arise.  Every cap is doffed with a grim politeness peculiar to that class of humanity, and a series of compliments fly into the face of Madame Michel, part leveled at her eyes, and part at the laced cap, in perfect taste, by which those eyes are shrouded.  Mere Michel, however, says nothing in return, but proceeds to stir

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Paris: With Pen and Pencil from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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