Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Hulot home (ew-LOH). Located in a fashionable area of Paris (on the rue de l’Universite on the Left Bank of the Seine River.) The Seine literally and figuratively divides Paris. The novel opens with an important scene in which the Hulots are struggling to maintain signs of high status, but the descriptions of their furnishings indicate the extent to which their material–and moral–fortunes have declined. While the Baroness remains virtuous, her husband throws his money away on loose women.
Bette’s quarters. Lisbeth Fischer (“Bette”) is Madame Hulot’s cousin. Although she moves several times during the story, at first she lives on the rue du Doyenné, on the Right Bank of the river. Bette lives in a shabby house in this dark, seedy, dangerous area, which reflects her loneliness and the dark quality of violence seen in her own character. She falls in love with one of her fellow tenants, a young artist. Baron Hulot’s future mistress, Valerie Marneffe, also lives here. Later, when Bette moves to more respectable quarters, in the rue Vanneau, Baron Hulot arranges for Valerie to live there as well. Thus develop Bette’s various roles in the novel, of go-between, procuress, confidant, and spy. She uses all her acquaintances and family members to satisfy her own longing for vengeance, status, and material comfort. Bette comes to have free access to the homes (and confidence) of all the major characters and pits them against one another. Her ultimate personal target of material and social success is Baron Hulot’s brother, Marshal Hulot–a hero of the Napoleonic Wars and one of the novel’s few admirable characters. She gains entry to the Marshal’s home, in the prestigious rue du Montparnasse, as his resident housekeeper, and eventually coerces him into marrying her.
Josepha Mirah’s home. Josepha, an actress, was one of Baron Hulot’s first concubines, and she used his money and influence in her quest for success and position. The luxury of her home near the Palais Royal, on the Right Bank of the Seine, stuns Baroness Hulot. The contrast between the opulence of what Josepha has earned by the sale of her honor and what the Baroness has been left with in defending her moral and Christian principles is a striking juxtaposition. The lesson is, then, that money buys status, immorality prospers in the Paris of King Louis-Philippe, and goodness and Christian conduct meet with pain and humiliation.
Passage du Soleil (pah-saj dew soh-lay). Paris slum in which Baroness Hulot finds her fallen husband. Having changed his name more than once and fled the authorities because of acts of political corruption, Hulot has purchased a young girl (something he has done more than once). Balzac’s description of the neighborhood offers an interesting version of nineteenth century Parisian urban renewal. The Passage du Soleil is the scene of property speculation; rents are rising, and the area’s poor are being forced out. Again, money matters a great deal in this city. At the novel’s end, in keeping with the story’s cruel pessimism, Balzac’s Baron returns home with his loving wife, leaving his distraught adolescent lover in the care of a friend.