Parisian Life


Of the great “open air” shows, those that most pleased the royals were the “carrousels”. Much more aristocratic, they consisted of exceptionally refined equestrian displays. It was with a carrousel that the place Royale – future place des Vosges – was inaugurated in 1612. Likewise, in order to seduce Madame de La Vallières, Louis XIV hosted, in 1662, a sumptuous carrousel with a number of quadrilles, opposite the Tuileries. And the place in which it was held kept the name.

Carrousels – royal entertainment – were succeeded by the much more democratic racecourses (“hippodromes”), the first of which was built in 1845, by the Franconis, at the gateway to Etoile. However, it was knocked down in 1854 to make way for the construction of… place de l’Etoile. Its replacement, was further out from the centre at porte Dauphine, but was destroyed by fire in 1869. Nine years later, the Paris hippodrome was created, between avenues Marceau and George V… it would be demolished in 1892. The same fate befell the hippodrome du Champ de Mars, erected in 1894 but dismantled for the World Fair in 1900. We can get an idea of the sheer size of these buildings by going to place de Clichy. Here, in 1907, a covered racetrack could be found, which was converted into a concert hall before becoming the famous Gaumont Palace, one of the largest cinemas in the world, that accommodated up to 6000 spectators. Razed in 1973, it was replaced by the graceless forms of a Castorama supermarket, an Ibis hotel, and a Flunch…