Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s pre-revolutionary work Tableau de Paris (1781-88) is one of the most famous examples of literary non-fiction devoted to the description of Paris. Mercier’s use of the highly theatrical but static term tableau implied that his was a comprehensive account of his subject, encompassing a thorough survey of urban variety. Taken together, the observations contained in Mercier’s tableau could presumably sum up Parisian identity and character at a single glance. In his book Paris and the Nineteenth Century Christopher Prendergast claims that the tableau, or popular urban guidebook, represents a typically nineteenth-century way of thinking about and understanding Paris. He calls the tableau ‘one of the founding genres of a certain discourse of “Paris”, [which became] increasingly popular throughout the nineteenth century’.1 According to Prendergast, Mercier’s work, one of the inaugurators of the genre, ‘offered something intellectually stronger than mere notation; it effectively invented a form of urban anthropology’.2