While today a certain type of traveler heads for Las Vegas, Havana, or Bangkok, in the 18th century, Paris was the unrivaled sin city of Europe. Even the uproar of the 1789 revolution, which was initially supported by many French aristocrats, only helped promote its hedonistic reputation — at least until the Terror of 1793-4 squelched tourism.

No sooner had the Bastille fallen than the capital was flooded with foreigners, curiosity-seekers, and political delegates from the French provinces, all looking to enjoy carnal delights while they savored the newly-democratic ambiance. To help out-of-town gentlemen navigate the underbelly of the city — and to control the problem of over-charging — a unique and practical guidebook was quickly published for those seeking prostitutes in the Palais Royal, the enormous entertainment complex that doubled as a red-light district. Today, this pocket-sized opus — List of Compensation for the Ladies of the Palais Royal,… More…