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The day of a Parisian office worker - Denise

A glimpse of the stressful lives of city workers is portrayed in these photographs, taken at rush hour in the Paris underground. In the midst of the crowd, Denise, our Parisienne, is waiting for the train that will take her to her office. She works for the central administration of the Sécurité Sociale, the French health insurance scheme. Women who work in offices or large stores in the city not only have to put up with the stresses of their private lives, but also face the full onslaught of modern frenzy in their jobs: glaring lights, noise, perhaps polluted air, crowds of impatient people. Many women in large towns have to rush to catch the train to or from the suburbs, to catch the bus, to make the connection on the other platform, to get to the grocer's before they close. When the offices close, their work is not finished and their work starts again long before the offices open.

Photographer : Robert Doisneau
Date : 1959
Copyright : WHO
Text is taken from the magazine World Health, September-October 1960 edition


Denise gets up and feeds her baby Marc

6 A.M. Denise gets up, feeds Marc aged 5 months (looked after during the day by Granny). Her husband is in the army at the moment.

Denise on her bike

7 A.M. She leaves on her bicycle for Raincy station where she takes the 7.14 train for Paris. 26 minutes later she arrives at the Gare de l'Est.

Denise catches the metro

7.40 A.M. 30 minutes across Paris by underground

Denise catches the metro

7.45 A.M. Denise waits for the connection on the platform.

Denise has a 5 minute walk to work

8.10 A.M. Then 5 minutes on foot. The office is now open.

Denise helps a member of the public

8.15 A.M. Denise's job is to fill in vouchers for the reimbursement of medical and hospital expenses for members of the French "Sécurité sociale". Each case requires about 10 minutes of work.

Table of contents

  1. Morning
  2. Afternoon and evening