By Roger Price
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Additional resources for An Economic History of Modern France, 1730–1914
0 Commerce In the countryside in a pre-industrial society the search for independence of the market was one of the basic characteristics of daily life. Selfsufficiency provided security against price fluctuations and those who speculated on the necessities of life. When transport was slow and expensive most people could rarely afford to buy those goods which had not been produced locally. In the case of foodstuffs, only local 27 supplies could be depended on, and so a polyculture, restricting the need for exchange was essential.
Special reduced tariffs, made available by the railway companies to bulk users were a major factor tending to confirm existing patterns of traffic. The concentration of traffic on Paris became more marked than ever. The responsiveness of producers and consumers to the new situation should not be exaggerated. The business world needed to be assured of the potential for profit of a new market opened up by rail before they would enter it, and this took some time. It seems unlikely, because of this factor, that a genuine national market existed before the 1880s.
Railways in France 18 75. profits to this second network and this ended public reluctance to invest. Further agreements in 1863 and 1868 induced the companies to accept increased responsibilities, in return for increased financial aid from the state. A law of 12 July 1865 established the legal conditions for the creation of a third network, of lines of strictly local interest to be constructed with local capital, but these were slow to develop. By 1870 22,530 km. of railway line had been conceded and 17,466 of these were in use.