This Is What 18th-Century Paris Sounded Like

What makes you feel closer to your loved ones? Is it a mobile phone buzz or keyboard? It doesn’t matter what soundscape is; it’s fleeting if you opt to capture the sound and keep it permanently. 

However, it was challenging to record familiar sounds before current technology development. Laure Cailloce of CNRS News reports on the efforts of one musicologist to remedy this situation. She’s re-creating the sound of 18th-century Paris—a sound that no longer exists.

From history to sociology to 3D representations, Myléne Pardoen collaborated to create an audio recreation of Paris’ Grand Châtelet area in 1739. Her name is Myléne Pardoen, and her neighbourhood choice was based on its proximity to a vast concentration of the era’s background noises, from the bustling streets to the echoes of its distinctive architecture.


She l used these approaches, including historical research, architectural measurements, eyewitnesses’ accounts and contemporary descriptions, to investigate bridges and tunnels. In 1739, Paris’ mayor commissioned a bird’s-eye view of the city that became one of the most renowned maps of Paris; therefore, it was a suitable year to study. She was able to get a lot of information from it about the structure and possible sounds of the game.

As you can see in the movie, the Paris of 1739 was a very different metropolis from what it is now. A restoration attempt by Louis XIV, who built a slew of new squares and monuments to modernise the city, took place during the period. “Next to it, all other cities appear mere suburbs,” dramatist Pierre Carlet de Marivaux remarked of that era’s Paris: “Paris is the globe.”


There were still many dark corners and nearly medieval aspects in the city even though it was the capital of Europe. Prostitution and pickpockets mingled with poets and artists in a city teeming with second-hand shops, stables, and houses of all sizes.

The noises aren’t computer-generated, so don’t worry about them. Only the pump noise at Notre Dame was based on a natural river pump, as noted by Cailloce. Pardoen and her colleagues are collecting the sounds of a bygone era. The idea is still intriguing, even if it’s done in the past.