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Before Paris’s Modern-Day Studios, There Were Chambres de Bonne

Tiny upper-floor “maids’ rooms” have helped drive down local assumptions about exactly how small a livable home can be.
relates to Before Paris’s Modern-Day Studios, There Were Chambres de Bonne
Fred Dufour/Getty

(This article is part of our ongoing series exploring the iconic home designs that shaped global cities. Read more from the series and sign up to get the next story sent directly to your inbox.) 

Many of Paris’ grandest buildings hide a secret. The main facades of the city’s avenues may charm with their wrought-iron balconies and honey limestone. Inside, they may contain grand, high-ceilinged apartments on their main floors. Under the roofs and up the back staircases, however, it’s a different story. These buildings, largely constructed as part of Baron Haussmann’s mid-19th century remodeling of the city, have, despite their grandeur, long housed some of the city’s poorest residents.