Amsterdam as global market and meeting place of nations
This chapter analyses how Amsterdam, the ‘Venice of the north’, competed in the minds of the French with its sister city in the south during the ancien regime. Its analysis will be based on a large corpus of travel narratives, alongside published travel guides and writings frequently consulted by travellers at the time. The chapter reviews the increasing popularity of the ‘trip to Holland’ and its connection to Franco-Dutch relations from the late sixteenth century—the birthdate of the Dutch Republic—to the early nineteenth century. It discusses the eighteenth century, where the early signs of what would become the more ‘leisurely’ trips of the nineteenth century can be observed. Finally, the chapter offers a close textual ‘reading’ of the French traveller’s perception of Amsterdam, exploring the accounts, impressions and itineraries in surviving travel narratives to uncover the reasons behind Amsterdam’s popularity. Since the Renaissance, Italy held an undeniable appeal to northern European travellers, including the French.