I loved learning about the architecture in Paris while I was there. I had a few disjointed conversations, about Napoleon 3rd and Haussmann, with French speaking cafe owners and then spent the rest of my evenings researching the modernisation of Paris on the internet (I had free internet and phone in my apartment.... yes free phone to any landline in Australia!). Yes, when I wasn't researching Parisian architecture, or revisiting the 2006 'Marie Antoinette' movie (starring Kirsten Dunst.... I love that movie!), I was watching an 8 Part Series on 'The French Revolution' on You Tube. #nerd.
Haussmann's modernisation of Paris, starting in the mid 1800's, is fascinating stuff. If there is nothing decent on telly one evening, google him. He did some great stuff.
Apart from his gorgeous little street signs and lamp posts, wide avenues and stunning state buildings, his apartment building designs set my heart a flutter. Haussmann-style buildings typically have 5 to 7 floors and were designed to house several families. I did not know this and wandered for a day or so thinking that each building originally was one big aristocratic house back in the day (based on the one whopping door in the middle).
See the characteristically long balconies on the 2nd and 5th floors
The Haussmann style was designed for the middle class though, a segment of the Parisian population that grew massively throughout the 19th century. The ground floor typically housed a business of some sort, so the owners would most often live above on the first floor. The second floor was reserved for the wealthiest families who could afford to live high enough from the road to avoid noise and not climb too many stairs. Top floor was generally for servant staff with small rooms and common facilities. Fifth floors were also favoured as they offered good views of the city. You can see how the second and fifth floors were given long continuous balconies because of their special popularity. How things have changed... the top floors are most coveted today!
You can imagine the little servants rooms up on the top floor of this complex (each dormer being a separate room)
I was surprised at the price of some of these apartments in the centre of Paris. You can get a basic two bedroom for 500K euros. You can't even get a two bedder for that price here in my apartment complex in West End, in downtown Bris-Vegas. What is the world coming to! ... and don't get me started on the one euro, 2 feet long baguettes. Australia is expensive!