Marie Antoinette Online Forum

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Author:  Duchesse de Film [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:11 am ]
Post subject:  Pasttimes

I am having trouble finding out what (besides gambling, opera and general partying) else the French did for fun. In my film, I have a party scene, but because the costumes are so expensive, I have had to resort to shooting short scenes of what they did for fun. Any information would be greatly appreciated; (By the way: Did they have circuses' in the 18th century?).

Author:  baron de batz [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pasttimes

Well of course there was one thing they just loved doing in the 18th century but that depends on what kind of film it is.... :wink: :lol:

My understanding of that time was that the leisure that you speak of was very much a thing of the ruling classes....they invited each other for dinner, gambled, went to the theatre, ballet, played and listened to music, read, went to "salons" (literary and philosphical discussions), hunted, practiced their soldiering skills, and of course spent a certain amount of their time in church;

Author:  jimcheval [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pasttimes

Certainly hunting, for aristocrats. It was central.

I presume under "general partying", you're including masked balls? A major divertissement. But in general at a time when entertainment wasn't beamed into people's homes, gatherings were more important: salons were new works would be read and discussed, playing music together after supper (dinner being the midday meal).

The representatives of the Third Estate famously met in a tennis court. There were a lot of them and sometimes they doubled as theaters. Lots of billiard halls also. There's also the provocatively named "Trou-Madame" (Hole-Madame), an early form of pinball basically, using a billiards-like table with holes in it. For young nobles, various classes also served as ways to pass the time: fencing, dancing lessons, playing various instruments, drawing, etc. Public baths were a necessity for many (private ones were a luxury), and already had a bit of a gay sub-culture in some places.

Taverns were often outside a city - as at the Courtille, now part of Paris, but then outside the walls, and the center of some lively but also dangerous activity (it is said that women could be snatched up and returned after a few days of imprisonment with the attendant abuse.) Some included gardens with music and torches at night.

The Palais Royal was in general a fun, if often illicit, meeting place. Aside from all the elegant shops and cafes, there were prostitutes and also, at some periods, a bit of a gay subculture (as there was, at night, in the Tuilieries garden - a tradition that continues today.)

Prostitution of every form was of course rampant, and bordellos could fairly be considered entertainment for the better off young men. (There were also some famous gay pimps - famous ultimately for being burned at the stake - but that's a hard subject to touch on lightly.)

Paris was filled with fairs, with all kinds of mechanical acts (automatons),marionettes, magic lanterns, sports of nature (four-legged calves, etc.), rope dancers (artier tight-rope walkers), little theaters (which sometimes were not allowed to speak, because of the competition with the authorized actors of the Opera), tumblers, dwarves, etc. Every class went to them.

Street charlatans provided some entertainment as well, just as in the old West, holding forth about the supposed benefits of various potions.

Bear in mind too that in a Catholic country, religious activities were a major part of life. Not only did people go to church pretty regularly, but there were all manner of holidays (about a third of the year in total, I believe), some like the Fete-Dieu (Feast of Corpus Christi) especially visual and spectacular (people would take any colorful fabric and all the family silver and hang it or put it in the window to honor the dais holding the "Body of Christ" - a large wafer in an ornate case - as it passed; "reposers" (reposoirs) were set about the city for the procession - often including lots of girls in white carrying flowers - to rest the dais.)

Funerals might not be considered entertainment per se, but when an aristocrat died, they were pretty spectacular, with a big black tent filled with candles (a "burning chapel") set up in the courtyard with the deceased on a bier surrounded by his coat-of-arms on different items and then a procession with hired mourners creating a great stir.

There's numerous books on all this. Try some of these: ... arch+Books

Also look for works by Paul Lacroix (the Bibliophile Jacob), who wrote on a variety of historical subjects.

Author:  Duchesse de Film [ Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pasttimes

I thank you both for your feedback. And I do so hope I shall be able to recreate a few of those things. Ha Ha! I fear, Baron, they will not allow me to make such a film.

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