Ann's Places

Ann Walker in Paris

By Julie Gonnet

During her 1834 honeymoon trip with Anne Lister, Ann Walker discovered Paris. Through her diary and her letters, we can follow in her footsteps and get her first impressions of a foreign capital.

As she prepared to leave on her honeymoon trip with Anne Lister in June 1834, Ann Walker merely told her relatives she was “going to Paris for a few weeks”1. Her journey took her far beyond, across the whole of France and as far as Italy and Switzerland, but she did stay in the French capital from 17th to 23rd of June, and from 21st to 24th of August, on her way back to England. While Anne Lister knew Paris like the back of her hand – having lived there for several periods between 1824 and 1830 – visiting a foreign capital was very new for Ann.

“Living very comfortable”

The newly married couple did not stay in the small apartment Anne Lister kept on the left bank of the Seine, rue Saint-Victor, near the Jardin des plantes. Ann only spent a few hours there, once with their servant George, taking care of her wife’s collection of books, while the latter called on her aristocratic friends (she could not join her because of her social rank and the rules of etiquette).

“then to Rue St. Victor, where dearest left me, & went to Miss Berry’s, she dined with them, & I dusted books in her apartment.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 23 August, 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/31
Rue de Rivoli around 1835. Source: Geneanet

They stayed instead at the Hotel de la Terrasse, 50 rue de Rivoli, but only because there was no suitable room left for them at Meurice’s, 223 rue Saint-Honoré. “An Englishman arriving in Paris would think himself disgraced and lost of reputation if he did not stay at the Hotel Meurice or the Hotel de Londres”, ironically wrote the novelist Eugène Louis Guérin in 18332.

The Hotel de la Terrasse was very popular with the English high society too, but not as much as this luxury establishment conveniently situated since 1815 at the terminus of the coach from Calais and near the Tuileries gardens. On their return in August, Ann and Anne got more lucky :

“At Meurice’s hotel about 11 oclock, only one apartment & salon vacant, which we took, 150 beds in house besides servant apartments all filled with English – table d’hote every day of 140 persons.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 21 August 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/30
Restaurant of the Hotel Meurice in the 20th Century. Source: Cartonet.

The hotel had its own restaurant, where expatriates could meet their fellow countrymen and women, and Ann thought the “living very comfortable”3. Charles-Augustin Meurice, who first opened an inn in Calais in 1771, wanted to offer English travellers the comforts and conveniences they were used to at home. “We are more at home there, until we learn the manners of Paris, than anywhere else”, wrote The London Magazine4, which called Meurice the “English colony”.

Museums & Exhibitions

The brevity of Ann’s and Anne’s diary entries suggests they had a very busy schedule in Paris. Ann’s letter to her sister, written from the Hotel de la Terrasse, confirms that :

“We have scarcely had a moment to spare since we arrived here, we have been so very busy sight seeing.”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 21 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/26. Transcription by Leila Straub

Lots of sightseeing, and in a great hurry. Ann seems to have been a bit frustrated by her visit to the Louvre Museum. She was amazed by the sculpture gallery and particularly admired “the celebrated statue of Diana a la biche in Parian marble habited as a huntress”5 (an Italian work in France since the reign of Henri II – not Henri IV, as she wrote. The latter only had it restored and modified). She “only regretted we could not spend days there”6.

Diana of Versailles © 2011 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier / Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Raphaël © 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

She didn’t get more time to enjoy the gallery of paintings, much to her regret :

“I was delighted with what we did see at the Louvre, but we had scarcely time to examine any of the paintings, for the gallery is a quarter of a mile long, and we walked to the end, and back again.”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 21 June 1834 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/26

In this long gallery along the Seine, which joins the Louvre to the Tuileries Palace, she was however able to take a close look at one famous painting:

“the only picture we had time really to stop & look at, was a Madonna, our Saviour, & St. John by Raphael.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 19 June 1834, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/7 & 8

This Italian work, also known as “La Belle jardinière”, was started by Raphael and finished by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio in the 16th century and taken to Paris by Francis I of France.

Not far from there, on the Place de la Concorde, the Exhibition of the French Arts and Trades was taking place, as it did every five years. In four “immense buildings”7, Ann saw “everything one can possibly think of”: “furniture, mirrors & carpets, particularly elegant”, “nice little foot warmers for a carriage” and “a very nice double bottle rack in rows”, which she even drew in her diary.

The four pavilions of the Exhibition of the French Arts and Trades in Place de la Concorde, Paris.
Source : L’industrie, S. Flachat

She was struck by “Carpets made of Cats skins which were very dear, & very pretty”. These expensive pieces – 10,000 francs for a twenty-foot-long carpet – caused a sensation that year. The exhibition’s daily newspaper devoted an article to them :

“Won’t ladies be reluctant to trample underfoot the remains of an animal so useful in our homes that it can rightly be called the friend of the house? Would it not be annoying and painful for them to be pursued by this melancholy thought at every step they took in their bedroom and boudoir ? However, on the other hand, these carpets are so rich in colour, so magnificent, so soft that one cannot resist the pleasure of adorning one’s favourite apartments with them.”

Journal de la Société centrale pour l’encouragement des sciences, des arts et de l’industrie nationale, 9 May 1834
Furniture and goldsmithing of the Exhibition of the French Arts and Trades.
Source : L’industrie, S. Flachat.

Among the 2,447 exhibitors, Ann Walker gave the palm to Louis-Frédéric Perrelet, clockmaker and mechanic to the Kings of France, renowned for his many inventions, including the so-called “learned clocks” and an astronomical pendulum.

“the most curious & interesting thing was a model on a large scale of the interior of a watch (…) the price is 5000 francs but Mr. Perrelet (the maker) says it cost him so much time & labor, he shall lose by it.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 19 June 1834, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/7 & 8

Anne Lister knew Perrelet well. Since 1827, she entrusted him with some watches to repair and enjoyed discussing his inventions or books on watchmaking when he came to wind up the clocks in her Paris apartment. Some days later, he brought a watch for Ann directly to their hotel: “says it will serve me well for a while, but not a very good one”8.

Theatres & concerts

At the end of these hectic days, Ann Walker got to enjoy Paris’s cultural nightlife.

“Went in the evening to the Opera. La muette de Portici Ballet rather too long came away before it was over.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 18 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/7

They attended that night at the Opera Le Peletier or Académie royale de musique an opera by Daniel Auber that made history for several reasons. La Muette de Portici, the story of a young mute woman whose attempted kidnapping plunges Naples into revolt, would be considered “as an obvious precursor” of the French 1830 Revolution by the composer Richard Wagner9. It is an unrest which broke out during one of the performances of that opera in Brussels, on the 25th of August 1830, which led to the Belgian Revolution10.

Engraving of La muette de Portici (1828) by F. Grenier. Source: Gallica.

La Muette de Portici also gave birth to the genre of “grand opera”, characterized by a ballet sequence, popular melodies and spectacular stage effects, and focused on romantic passions against a background of historical troubles, all in five acts. This is probably why Ann could not make it until the end!

Thanks to Miss Berry, Ann and Anne got access to a royal box in La Comédie Française, Anne Lister’s favourite theatre in Paris, which was contiguous to the Palais Royal and had a permanent troupe of actors since the 17th century. The programme included two comedies in three acts: La jeunesse d’Henri V by Alexandre Duval and L’Ecole des maris by Molière.

The Comédie française in 1876 by Adolphe Joanne. Source : Paris Illustré.

“much amused but very tired, Madame Mont Mante – performed the part of the Princess admirably & in a very lady like manner.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 20 June 1834 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/8

Louise Charles Théophile, known as Mademoiselle Mante, had joined the Comédie Française in 1822. She was the main rival of one of the most popular actresses of the time, Mademoiselle Mars, whom Anne Lister saw perform “beautifully” with Mariana Lawton in that same theatre in 182611.

Portrait of Mademoiselle Mante circa 1827 by J-B
Paulin Guérin. Source : Wikimedia CC

On 19 June, Ann discovered a more informal place for entertainment, where people of all ranks could gather: “Nothing can present a more lively scene than the Champs Élysées, in the evening, during the summer season”, said the Galignani’s New Paris Guide12. She attended one of the concerts held on this large avenue every evening.

Gardens & promenade

At the end of the Champs Élysées, Ann strolled along “the most fashionable promenade in Paris” (again according to Galignani), the Tuileries Gardens. A sixty-seven acre garden with three fountains laid out in front of the Palais des Tuileries by André Le Nôtre, the gardener of Louis XIV and its Château de Versailles.

Tuileries Gardens in 1828. Source : Gallica/BNF

She also went to the Bois de Boulogne – that Galignani had renamed “the Hyde Park of Paris”. Anne Lister used to take long walks in this wood on the outskirts of the city when she lived there. In those years, an effort was made to replant trees as many had been cut by Napoleon to make palisades and prevent the invasion of Allied armies in 1815. Then, after the capitulation of Paris, the English troops felled more trees to build their camp on that spot. Ann made a similar observation about the gardens of the Palais Royal :

“almost all the trees destroyed by the allies, so that the present ones are quite young timber.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 23 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/9

There, she sat down at one of Paris’ oldest cafés, the semi-circular Café de la Rotonde. She ordered a café au lait and Anne Lister a strawberry ice.

Le Café de la Rotonde au Palais-Royal by Georg Emmanuel Opitz (1775-1841). Musée Carnavalet.

The Palais Royal belonged to the House of Orléans, the youngest branch of the royal Bourbon dynasty. Around 1780, the duc de Chartres began its transformation into a fashionable meeting place for elegant and often libertine society. He had galleries built around the palace garden filled with shops, cafés, restaurants and gaming houses (the latter closed in 1836).

The Gardens of Palais-Royal, early 19th century by Courvoisier. Musée Carnavalet.

His son, Louis-Philippe, left the palace for the Palais des Tuileries a year after he acceded to the throne, in 1830. But Ann mentioned in her diary that “one side of the court is now the residence of the Duke of Orleans, the oldest son of King Louis Phillipe”5. In this “immence [immense] court surrounded by shops of every description”, she ordered plate and 100 cards “engraved Mademoiselle. instead, of, Miss Walker” at Maurisset’s, who was the engraver to the King, the House of Orléans and the Chamber of Deputies.

Fashion & souvenirs

Ann and Anne went to all the top Paris fashion venues to add to their wardrobe. A bonnet for Ann at Madame Thomas’, gloves in large quantities – 30 pairs for Anne Lister! – at Roux, rue Castiglione, and at Privat, rue de la Paix, praised by the women’s press of the time.

“Privat has long been in possession of the prettiest novelties, those elegant trifles, those little details that complete a dress and give it the stamp of good taste. This shop is almost always full of young, pretty women who have their hands measured in every direction ; but what gloves Mr Privat has !”

Petit courrier des Dames, Journal des Modes, 25 December 1837
Gloves from Privat in La Mode in 1836. Source : Rijksmuseum

Ann was not so pleased with them though: “mine from Privat, fit better than those from Roux but from both the fingers are too long”5 She was more taken with the French stays: “their superiority in point of make and comfort is indescribable”, she wrote to Elizabeth.15 Madame Calès, who made corsets and elastic belts for the Queen of France and the princesses,16 came directly to their hotel. They also had Madame Figarol, recommended to Anne by her friend Madame de Hagemann in 183117, “to take our measures for dresses”.18

Ann was very attentive to the latest Parisian fashion trends and told all about it to Elizabeth in a letter written from Shibden on her return :

“the people wear their dresses as full or fuller than ever, and the sleeves are fastened at the wrist by a wristband, but the sleeve is rather wider towards the wrist, the waist rather long, and no one is seen without a pelerine, of which the size is increased within the last few months.”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 1 September 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/27. Transcription by Leila Straub

Ann and Anne ordered “2 muslin dresses and one black silk”5 from Delisle, also advertised – with a good deal of sexism – in the press that summer :

“These dresses indicate the good taste of the woman who wears them ; do they fit her well, are they in harmony with her hair and figure, then she is a woman who must have spirit. If they don’t, she’s a silly, unimaginative woman who imitates and copies her neighbour or rival.”

Journal des femmes, 30 August 1834.
Dresse from Delisle in Le Petit Courrier des Dames in 1832.
Shawl from Delisle in LaMode in 1830. Source : Rijksmuseum CC

But when it came to Parisian fashion, Anne Lister cross-referenced her sources. When Miss Walker got “nearly tempted with Cashmire shawl at de Lisle’s [Delisle] price £150 English”5, her wife asked Miss Berry about it. Ann reported her verdict in her diary: “advised her not to buy the shawl – not the mode now”. The two women had to make concessions, as Ann found Parisian prices higher than she expected :

“No one must expect to get cheap things in Paris, and I have often wondered how such an idea can be so prevalent amongst the English, for who have not been there, for things are in comparison dearer than in London.”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 1st of September 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/27. Transcription by Leila Straub

Before going back to England, Ann and Anne chose souvenirs for their family. They went to the luxury shops of the Passage des Panoramas, one of Europe’s first covered shopping passages, where they found grey ribbon for Anne’s aunt and to the rue Vivienne, where Ann bought a “little white frock”21 for her niece Mary, in the Laferrière brothers’ or Magasin de la reine Blanche. The Journal des femmes praised their “dresses embroidered in batiste or linen, and trimmed with the prettiest lace”22. Finally, they could not resist shopping as the Page :

“bought shawl for my Aunt at – La Page’s & one for dearest & one for me.”

Ann Walker’s diary, 22 August 1834, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/31

According to Anne, it was “dear but the most fashionable silk shop in Paris”23. In December 1834, the King’s sister and daughter, Madame Adélaïde and Princess Clémentine, came there to see the court clothes and fabrics of Queen Maria of Portugal’s trousseau24.

Another shop popular with the royal family was on their list: Chez Giroux, rue du Coq-Saint-Honoré. In this novelty shop where the Queen and the Duchess of Berry took their children regularly, Anne Lister chose a “china flacon à odeur in red velvet cushion”25 for Ann’s aunt.

The two women were also interested in furniture – even if they did not buy any. Ann confused the name of the shop with the Page, but seemed very taken with her visit to Lesage:

“saw some pretty tables, a new sort of sofa – a nice writing & work table combined & a screen on model of one at Geneva – besides a neat little writing desk, & many other pretty little things.”

Ann Walkers’s diary, 23 August 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/31

They had a hard time finding the shop of Fischer, whose work they had spotted at the Exhibition of the French Arts and Trades. “M. Fischer’s furniture is not the kind that attracts the attention and admiration of the crowd”, stated the Exhibition catalogue26, but “Men of taste have stopped and returned to it, studying it as something serious and worthy of examination by true friends of art”26. As a woman of taste and a true friend of art, Ann wrote in her diary about “some beautiful armoirs, beds, & dining tables, made to draw out to a length for 30 people”.21

Churches & Sunday service

Among the Paris churches that survived the damage done during the French Revolution, Ann visited Saint Eustache and Saint Roch, “much frequented by the English”3, Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame. As for the Sunday’s service, Ann told her sister about a new place of worship:

“We intend going to the new Protestant Church, which we hear is a beautiful edifice.”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 21 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/26

The next day, they indeed went rue d’Aguesseau, where the Scottish bishop Michael Luscombe had been inaugurated a few months earlier, a gothic church for members of the English embassy and English residents in Paris.

Galignani’s Messenger of the 18th of January 1834. Source : BNF / Gallica

“Church a very plain neat building – chairs & benches – except pews for the singers, & the Ambassador (British), & one pew above his – “

Ann Walker’s diary, 22 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/8 & 9

It had 450 seats and, as Ann pointed out, three galleries, one of which was reserved for Her Excellency. There were two services on Sundays, at 11 am and 3 pm. Ann and Anne arrived at 11.20 when the service was “just commencing”.

Interior of the Anglican church of the rue d’Aguesseau. Source: Geneanet

Although she didn’t have time to see the whole of Paris (but she would come back in 1838), Ann Walker was able to get a good overview of the city and the way of life of the English community in Paris (between 7000 and 8000 people in 1830 according to Anne Lister’s sources27). And she seems to have thoroughly enjoyed it, as she told her sister :

“I am delighted with all I have seen, am quite well, and very happy”

Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, 21 June 1834. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/26. Transcription by Leila Straub

Sources

1. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/3

2. Une actrice, Eugène Louis Guérin, 1833.

3. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/30

4. London Magazine, June 1829

5. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/7 & 8

6. 7. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/26

8. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/9

9. Reminiscences of Auber, Richard Wagner, 1871.

10. Du chant à la sédition : La Muette de Portici et la révolution belge de 1830, Vincent Adoumié.

11. West Yorkshire Archive Service, CalderdaleSH:7/ML/E/9/0158

12. Galignani’s New Paris Guide by A. and W. Galignani · 1833

15. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/4/27

16. Almanach des 25000 adresses des principaux habitants de Paris, 1832

17. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/14/0052

18. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/7

21. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/31

22. Journal des femmes, 30 December 1835

23. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/8/0098

24. Le Courrier du Gard. 14 december 1834

25. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/17/0078

26. L’industrie : Exposition des Produits de l’industrie en 1834, Stéphane Flachat · 1834

27. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/12/0150

Special Thanks

Diane Halford – In Search of Ann Walker

Leila Straub – Transcriptions

To read the comparison of Ann Walker’s and Anne Lister’s full diary entries during this period, please click here to read our Diary Comparison Portal

In Search of Ann Walker’s research into Ann’s life is ongoing, therefore new discoveries may change the way we chronicle her life in the future.

How to cite this article:

Julie Gonnet (2024) “Ann Walker in Paris”: In Search Of Ann Walker [Accessed *add date*]

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