Marguerite Gourdan

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Marguerite Gourdan

Marguerite Gourdan, née Stock (Béziers - 28 September 1783 in Paris) was a French brothel owner and procurer in 18th-century Paris. Her brothel was the most exclusive in Paris in her age, and Gourdan was arguably the most famous of her profession.


Gourdan came to Paris from the countryside with an officer. In Paris, she married the captain François-Didier Gourdan. With the consent of her spouse, she prostituted herself to a nobleman, from which she had a daughter and after this an allowance. The allowance ceased after the death of the nobleman in 1759, however, after which she opened her first brothel. She separated from her spouse in 1765.

In 1774, she founded her most famous brothel with her companion Justine Paris. Marguerite Gourdan had a network of procurers in both the provinces and the capital, and prostitutes of four different classes; one who worked in her brothel; a second class who had their own homes and visited their clients; a third made of artists who merely supplied their normal income with prostitution; and a fourth made up by the spouses of rich men who wished to earn their own money. Gourdan did not only procure female to male customers, but also females to female customers, as well as male prostitutes to male customers. She also provided sexual tools and toys for clients of both sexes. Except for the prostitution, Marguerite Gourdan also provided rooms to partners who were not prostitutes but which had difficulties finding a safe place to meet because their relationship were not accepted, such as for example married women and their lovers or couples in incestuous relationships: this was not a small part of her business, but an important and lucrative part of it. In 1776, Marguerite Gourdan was forced to flee the capital to avoid arrest. She was freed from charges because of her influential clients. She continued her trade until her death, but found increasing competition during her last years.


  • Érica-Marie Benabou, La Prostitution et la police des mœurs à Paris au XVIIIe siècle, préf. Pierre Goubert, Paris, Perrin, 1987. ( ISBN 9782262004347)
  • Olivier Blanc, L’Amour à Paris au temps de Louis XVI, Paris, Perrin, 2003. ( ISBN 9782262017163)
  • Eugène Defrance, La Maison de Madame Gourdan, Paris, Société du Mercure de France, 1908
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