France 1773 - Calais to Savoy
Paris was a magnet for English tourists; the world centre of fashion and the epitome of style. The purchase of a new wardrobe of silk clothes was a rite of passage and many tourists were satirised for adopting outlandish hairstyles and rouge.
The English had a highly ambivalent relationship with the French that grew vitriolic in relation to food. ‘For my own part, I hate French cookery,’ wrote Smollett in his bestselling Travels through France and Italy ‘and abominate garlick.’
These health eateries developed the characteristics of the modern restaurant: written menus, separate tables and individual bills for each table of diners.The gilding, chandeliers and mirrors were intended to create an atmosphere of aristocratic luxury while the food was fresh, along the principles of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Tourists heading for Italy then had to decide
whether to risk an uncomfortable sea journey along the French Riviera or take the land route to Savoy across the terrifying Alps.
Like Biddy I marvelled at the food at Paris markets: ‘the cakes arranged in pinks and yellows and greens like an embroidery, and the cheeses even prettier, some as tiny as thimbles.' In Paris Biddy also discovers the earliest form of Restaurants – the Maison de Santes that offered a menu of boullion (a refined quintessence of meat known as a restaurant intended to 'restore' health).
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