"The squat toilets of the old apartment houses, one by the side of the stairs on each floor with two cleated cement shoe-shaped elevations on each side of the aperture"

By 1853 it was clear that Paris was in desperate need of remodelling: 'the city’s population had skyrocketed to over 1 million. Only one house in five had any running water; of these, most only had plumbing on the ground floor.' 1850 had seen the commissioning of engineer Eugène Belgrand to develop an effective system for the supply of clean water and the removal of waste, and under Baron Georges Eugène Haussmann's redesign of the city, a solution was devised that endures today.

'In 1894, a law was enacted that required all waste to be sent to the sewers; the local saying at the time was that the city was completing its long transition from “tout à la rue” (all in the street) to “tout à l’égout” (all in the sewer). The sewer system was hailed as a technological marvel, a brilliant achievement that helped to usher Paris into the modern age.' A resurgence of cholera in 1892 had served to popularise both the acceptance and implementation of the system, and an ordinance was passed in 1892 stating 'that landlords must provide sewers to dispose of excrements and must pay for the service.'

Hemingway's sporadic use of French words and phrases, such as 'locataire', not only reflects his experience of living in Paris – in all their time in the city, it was Hadley who would compose the letters to their landlord – but also his desire to appear as one of the locals: 'Ernest Hemingway, who despised amateurs no matter what the situation, quickly created in his correspondence and journalism the persona of an experienced American in Paris, street wise and supremely confident. Whatever the game, Ernest wanted an edge on it, inside knowledge. When around truly experienced Americans in Paris, like Lewis Galantière, Hemingway would listen with an intensity that flattered the speaker. Absorbing all for his own, Ernest would use it as first-hand knowledge in his writing or in the presence of less experienced tourists. He himself could not bear to be taken for a tourist, a person who learned French, as his wife had, by studying it in a book.' (Michael Reynolds, Hemingway the Paris Years, New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1999, p. 9)