Urban History

Research Article

Vauxhall on the boulevard: pleasure gardens in London and Paris, 1764–1784


a1 University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ


Open to both aristocracy and middling rank, pleasure gardens fashioned a spectacle of order out of a heterogeneous crowd. They have been seen as uniquely British spaces, demonstrating how Britain juggled commerce, politeness and liberty. Yet these resorts had imitators abroad, especially in Paris. Far from being a case of Paris emulating London, they created a playful fantasy that shuttled visitors between the two cities – helping them imagine the ideal metropolis, polite yet policed.


* This article emerged from a paper delivered at the symposium ‘Paris–London, Londres–Paris’, held in January 2006 at the Institute for Historical Research's Centre for Metropolitan History. I am grateful to the conference's organizer, Professor Dana Arnold, for inviting me to speak, and to David Coke and Dr Wim Weymans for their comments on the revised text. All translations are mine, except where indicated otherwise.