Turgot's monumental plan of Paris
By [BRETEZ, Louis] and [TURGOT, Michel-Etienne]. , 1739

[Plan de Paris].

Europe France
  • Author: [BRETEZ, Louis] and [TURGOT, Michel-Etienne].
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publication date: 1739.
  • Physical description: First edition. Folio (560 by 450mm), folding key sheet, 20 double-page engraved maps, nineteenth century full-calf, fillet border, spine in eight compartments, gilt, rubbed.
  • Inventory reference: 1672


Turgot’s fine plan of Paris during the reign of Louis XV.

In 1734 Michel-Étienne Turgot (1690-1751), Mayor of Paris, decided to promote the reputation of Paris to Parisian, provincial and foreign elites by implementing a new plan of the city. He asked Louis Bretez, a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and professor of perspective, to draw up the plan of Paris and its suburbs.

Louis Bretez began his work in 1734, and was given permission by Turgot to enter all the mansions, houses and gardens in Paris, in order to gain accurate measurements drawings. The endeavour would take two years.

Turgot depicts Paris in in isometric projection, a slightly more scientifically rigourous example of the seventeenth century birds-eye view. This was somewhat agianst the grain of cartographic thinking at the time with many cartographers abandoning the more visually appeal birds-eye view, for the more scientifically accurate geometric plan.

In 1736, Claude Lucas, engraver of the Royal Academy of Sciences, engraved the 21 copper sheets of the plan. The plan was published in 1739, and the prints were bound in volumes offered to the King, the members of the Academy, and the Municipality. Additional copies were to serve as representations of France to foreigners.


  1. Millard 39.