One pleasant feature of Paris is its great number of baths, public and private. The artisan who has little money to spare can go to the Seine any day, and for six cents take a bath under a large net roofing. A gentleman, to be sure, would hardly like to try such a place, but the working people are not particular. It is cheap, and in the hot weather it is a great luxury to bathe, to say nothing of the necessity of the thing. To take a bath in a first-rate French hotel is quite another matter. Every luxury will be afforded, and the price will be quite as high as the bath is luxurious.
Pleasure trips are getting to be quite common in France, in imitation of the English, on a majority of the railways. The fares for these pleasure trips are very much reduced. I noticed the walls one day covered with advertisements of a pleasure trip to Havre and back for only seven francs. The second and third class carriages on the French railroads are quite comfortable, but the first are very luxurious. Trains run from Paris to all parts of the country, at almost all hours of the day and night.
There is no city in the world so blessed with educational institutions of the first class as Paris, and no government fosters the arts and sciences to such an extent as the French government, whether under the administration of king, president, or emperor. The government constantly rewards discoveries, holds out prizes to students and men of genius. The educational colleges are without number, and the lectures are free. There is one compliment which the stranger is forced to pay the French government—it encourages a republicanism among men of genius in learning, the arts and sciences, if it does put its heel upon the slightest tendency toward political republicanism.
And not Paris, or France alone, reaps the advantage of this liberality—the whole civilized world does the same. Go into the university region, and you will always see great numbers of foreigners who have come to take advantage of the public institutions of Paris. The English go there to study certain branches of medicine, which are more skillfully treated in the French medical schools than anywhere else in the world. Many young Americans are in Paris, at the present time, studying physic or law.
The difference between the cost of education in England and France is great. Three hundred dollars a year would carry a French student in good style through the best French universities. To go through an English college five times that sum would be necessary.
[Illustration: Palais de l’Institut.]