Paris: the port of Bercy

Paris: the port of Bercy

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Title: Paris street scenes: haquet horses at the port of Bercy.

Author : RIVER Henri (1854 - 1961)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 9 - Width 12

Technique and other indications: Photo n ° 4 of Street scenes. Around 1889.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 92-000797-02 / PHO1987-35-19

Paris street scenes: haquet horses at the port of Bercy.

© ADAGP, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Publication date: September 2008

Historical context

In industrial-age France, democratization of leisure activities and new social classes

Between the middle of the XIXe century and the dawn of the Belle Époque, France continued its profound economic and social changes produced by industrialization and the growth that resulted from it. In the late 1880s, the IIIe Republic is in its entrenchment phase. This is the case with photography which, after the pioneer period, is now practiced by these “new classes” dear to Gambetta. Like thousands of French people of the industrial age, the printmaker Henri Rivière considers "amateur photography" to be a hobby. From his desire to capture the "spectacle of the street" through the snapshot, many "genre scenes" were born, captured during his wanderings through the streets of a booming capital.

Image Analysis

The activity of the Port aux Vins de Paris

The sun is shining on Bercy, a formerly residential district which, in 1889, had only been Parisian for thirty years. "Always crowded with barrels and barrels" according to Jacques Hillairet, its port serves the capital's wine market which, first located downstream in the port of La Râpée, just beyond the grant, moved east. The site is dedicated to the storage of wines delivered by boats going down the Seine. In the foreground, a hacker dressed in the traditional workers' smock leads a team of five horses. They pull a haquet, a cart consisting of a platform without sides, where barrels are collected, transported from the unloading docks. The load is heavy, as shown by the strained horses. The barrels will be stored in the cellars that line up in the space opposite, along the quay.


The sprawl of the capital pushes back ports and markets

One of the main consequences of industrialization has been urbanization. Paris has exploded demographically and in area. Administratively, the city expanded, bursting through the farm-general enclosure bounded by grants, and was enriched with eight new arrondissements in 1860. In the east, the twelfth annexed the municipality of Bercy. In this snapshot, Henri Rivière reveals the intense activity that supplying the capital to these new spaces represented. If the railroad is gradually and soon definitively supplanting river transport, in particular through the creation of small and large belt connections between Parisian stations, Bercy will still remain for a time an important center of activity for the capital. In addition to the wine-related activity (present until the last quarter of XXe century), the port is also devoted to firewood which descends by floating in particular from Clamecy, on the eastern edge of the Morvan. This latter activity does not survive the new century.

  • Paris
  • Harbor
  • wine
  • Parisians
  • granting
  • photography
  • Gambetta (Leon)
  • Third Republic


Alain BELTRAN and Pascal GRISET, La Croissance économique de la France, 1815-1914, Paris, Armand Colin, 1994. Alain CORBIN, L'Avénement des loisirs, Paris, Aubier, 1995. Pierre DELFAUD, Claude GERARD, Pierre GUILLAUME and Jean- Alain LE SOURD, New economic history, Paris, Armand Colin, 1985.Jacques HILLAIRET, Historical dictionary of the streets of Paris, Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1985. François LOYER, Paris XIXth century: the building and the street, Paris, Hazan , 1987.

To cite this article

Bernard COLOMB, "Paris: the port of Bercy"

Video: Pape Diouf à l AccorHotels Aréna de Paris ex. Bercy , le 13 Octobre 2018 Vidéo officielle