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Home > Screenings > Screenopsis > Paris 1900, the City of Lights

Director: Hugues Nancy

Producer: Anne Labro (CPB Films)

Writer: Hugues Nancy

Genres: Documentary

People: Anne Labro (CPB Films), Hugues Nancy


In 1900, the eyes of the whole world were on Paris. Joy and optimism were at a peak in the elegant City of Light. The Exposition Universelle, which opened in April 1900, was an enormous celebration of French success. It welcomed 51 million visitors, half of whom were foreigners.

Paris became a showcase city, displaying the latest technical and scientific inventions, and also boasting avant-garde art galleries, lively cabarets, the ultimate in high fashion, and… the Parisiennes. Whether they were from the working class or the moneyed elites, they challenged old-fashioned sexual stereotypes.

The myth of “La Belle Epoque” reigned supreme.

Thanks to incredible archives restored and fully colorized, this film presents a previously unseen journey through time and space.
They captured magical moments of lightness and euphoria, the marvels of scientific and aesthetic invention: the crowning glory of democracy. They show us the first globalized society, linked by rail, transatlantic travel, the airplane, and the telephone. We witness the high life in the French capital, the excesses of the wealthy gentlemen and their taste for money, pleasure, extravagance, and… women. Only rarely do the archives peek behind the scenes at the darker side of this period in history. But when they do, the images are gripping.
In this new world, war was thought to belong to the past. No one imagined that within 14 years, the interval of peace and prosperity would be buried in the mud of the WWI’s trenches.

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