The book provides a 'flaneur's eye view' of Parisian life in the first half of the nineteenth century: dress, cafes and restaurants, but also shops and passages, the omnibus, bals publics and carnival.
The author provides general conclusions about the private and public spheres in 'le vieux Paris'.
Like the flaneur, the author concentrates less on factual information for its own sake - which may be found in the secondary works cited in the text and footnotes - than on the 'semiological' or anthropological significance of the cultural forms in question.
Links are drawn between cultural institutions and class relations in pre-1850 Paris, with particular emphasis on cultural inequality, on the persistence of cross-class contacts, and the growing differences between classes as reflected in behaviour and attitudes. -- .