What Was a Salon During the European Enlightenment?

During the European Enlightenment, a salon was a gathering of knowledgeable individuals where people conversed about philosophy, literature and related subjects. Salons were most popular in France during the Enlightenment and reached their height during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Salons began in Italy during the 16th century before spreading to the rest of Europe. The purpose of the salon was both to discuss ideas and further a person’s self-education. Many salons were hosted by women. Important salons in France included one at the Parisian Hôtel de Rambouillet, which was hosted by the marquise de Rambouillet, and the salon of Madeleine de Scudéry in Le Marais.