Living La Belle Epoque!

Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt

From 1871 to 1914, Paris was in a glorious age of industrial prosperity, scientific innovation, and cultural production. The era saw the rise of the Eiffel Tower and inspired art movements like Art Nouveau and Impressionism. Parisians who saw the city between the Franco-Prussian War and First World War look back on the time of peace as “La Belle Epoque” or “The Beautiful Era.” Monarchs and aristocrats, along with artists and writers, were just drawn to the city. Luckily, some of the period’s most iconic landmarks have endured time and war—in fact, we’ve listed them down right here! Get ready to rediscover Paris through the eyes of its most optimistic era!

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Updated a year ago

Moulin Rouge

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

Enjoy dinner and a cabaret show at the legendary Moulin Rouge! Colorful lights, flashy costumes, and thrilling choreography—it is a must-see in Paris! The Moulin Rouge fosters the same wild spirit today as it did when it first opened in 1889. They’ve updated their look and brought cabaret into the 21st Century, but classic acts like the Can-Can are still highlights of the show. It was quite a scandalous dance back then, but it eventually became a vital part of Parisian culture. The Moulin Rouge was where Bohemian life flourished during La Belle Epoque. The venue drew artists, and artists created work about its glamorous nightlife in turn. The party under the Red Mill inspired avant-garde performances, risqué dance moves, and iconic paintings (like those of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec).

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Folies Bergère

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

Catch French musicals, fashion shows, and more at the Folies Bergère! It was the city’s first grand music hall, built around 20 years before the Moulin Rouge. It was during the Belle Epoque, however, that its reputation reached epic proportions. They mounted all sorts of acts like cabaret, operettas, and music-hall revues—sometimes, they’d even mix genres. The Folies Bergèr have featured both local and international acts in the past. Loie Fuller, a pioneer of the performing arts during the era, have graced its stage. Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, and Elton John have followed in her footsteps and also performed at the venue.

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Galeries Lafayette

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

Visit Galeries Lafayette and indulge in some of the world’s top design houses—from Alexander McQueen to Zegna. Shopping in the “luxury bazaar” always feels special, with its dazzling domed ceiling and Art Nouveau touches. Its Galeries Director would be spotted at the most fashionable places, searching for inspiration from the city’s stylish. Even further, they’ve strived to make it accessible to its patrons, whether it’s for the middle class or the blue-bloods. Its proximity to the Palais Garnier opera house and Grands Boulevards also contribute to its large crowds.

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Passage des Panoramas

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

Window-shop in a place frozen in La Belle Epoque! Around 10 minutes away from Galeries Lafayette, Passage des Panoramas elevates the charm of the Parisian shopping experience. Instead of an overwhelming mecca of high-end brands, you’ll find a quaint arcade lined with artisanal boutiques and merchants. Old school shops flank the narrow lane, covered by a vaulted glass ceiling. After hoarding postcards and vintage collectibles, dine at one of the long-standing restaurants that have set their tables out on the covered walkway.

  • 13 Boulevard Montmarte, Paris, France

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Eiffel Tower

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

The Eiffel Tower needs no introduction. It is the city’s crowning jewel and most beloved attraction. Instead, we offer a little bit of history: the Eiffel Tower was initially built for the 1889 World’s Fair (“Exposition Universelle”) during The Beautiful Era. It served as the entrance to a grand exhibition where nations showed off their most impressive accomplishments. A complex of remarkable pavilions was also built behind it, but it is Gustave Eiffel’s glorious tower that survived. Do as the tourists do and stand in awe of this modern marvel!

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Le Petit Palais

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

The 1900 World’s Fair celebrated talking films, escalators, and the largest refracting telescope of the time. Le Petit Palais was built to host an exhibit on French art during the Fair, but the pavilion is mostly remembered for its Art Nouveau style and design. Here, you’ll notice blooming flowers and curving stems seemingly emerge from the stone and metal work of its architecture. Today, it is known as the City of Paris’ Museum of Fine Arts. Stand before the major works of French Master Painters: Cézanne, Delacroix, Gauguin, Monet, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec—the impressive roster goes on at Le Petit Palais!

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Musee d'Orsay

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

The railway station Gare d’Orsay was also a product of the 1900 World’s Fair, built in a local style called Beaux-Arts. An elaborate stone facade looks out over the Seine, while arched windows and glass ceilings flood the hall with light. These days, the design works to Gare d’Orsay’s advantage as it has been converted into Musee d’Orsay. Gander at masterpieces from 1848 to 1914, an era that pretty much coincides with La Belle Epoque. Many of the big names at Le Petit Palais are also present at Musee d’Orsay, plus more! Keep your eyes peeled for some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most prized paintings, a self-portrait and “The Church at Auvers.”

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Lavirotte Building

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

The Art Nouveau movement is so intertwined with La Belle Epoque that the era is defined by this aesthetic. Take Lavirotte Building as a prime example. Architect Jules Lavirotte designed several buildings in the Seventh Arrondissement, and the apartment building at 29 Avenue Rapp is the one that remains the most popular. It stands out from the lane of traditional townhouses with peacocks, wreaths, and serene busts decorating the facade. Windows also peek out to the street in irregular forms. Lavirotte used textured ceramic tiles by a notable manufacturer of the time, Alexandre Bigot. View the entire work of art in all its splendor from across Avenue Rapp.

  • 29 Avenue Rapp, Paris, France

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Maxim's

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 

Maxim’s interiors step up to par with any one of Jules Lavirotte’s buildings. Savor your meal in an enchanting Art Nouveau dining room where paintings of ethereal, fairy-like women color every wall. Here, curving stems and colorful flowers dominate the entirety of the space. During the 1900 World’s Fair, the restaurant matched the splendor of the Art Nouveau structures. Maxim’s was the place to be—and it still is. Even the who’s who of Parisian society dined here. Book a coveted table and treat yourself to a glass of celebratory bubbly. You are in La Belle Epoque of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, after all!

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Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil

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Boulogne-Billancourt, France • Recommendation • 

Change pace from the excitement of Belle Epoque to bask in lush exotic flora. Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil is a series of sprawling gardens and greenhouses on the fringe of the city. In the true spirit of The Beautiful Era, the Jardin had to take on a new level of grandeur. Cathedral-like glasshouses made from cast iron, painted with a captivating turquoise hue, were incorporated into a garden begun by King Louis XV in 1761. Tropical plants were ferried specially by steamship to fill the indoor gardens. Stroll through lanes of cacti, palms trees, and rare plants—the humid environment has allowed them to thrive like an oasis amidst the temperate European climate.

  • 3 Avenue de la Porte d'Auteuil, Paris, France

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