Paris 1900 2 exposition 940 top

"Le Petit Palais" is one of the most magnificent buildings constructed for the "Exposition Universelle", the World’s Fair held in Paris in 1900. It is now a museum, the perfect stage for a beautiful exhibition dedicated to the City of Lights at its golden age, during the blessed years of the Belle Epoque.

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"Paris 1900 : La Ville Spectacle" is one of the unmissable exhibitions currently taking place in town, for those of you who want to catch a glimpse of the city’s prestige in the early days of the 20th century. You will be both surprised and delighted!

51 million visitors to the World’s Fair is a number that suffices to show how renowned Paris was at the time. Some of the visitors are sketched in Albert Guillaume's many lovely watercolor drawings, who at the time, had a room all for themselves! Parisians knew how attractive their city was to the world and took advantage of it!

 

You will be amazed to see the changes Paris underwent for the World’s Fair. The Orsay train station, the Invalides train station and the first metro station – whose now famous entrances created by Guimet were not well-accepted at the time – were built especially for that occasion. Countless fair stands vying in creativity lined the Seine River for visitors to see. And most of them were uninstalled at the end of the Exposition!

You will take full measure of the World’s Fair scale thanks to a map and plates published by the world famous "Petit Journal".

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The various posters printed at the time praised the many attractions, some of which will leave you breathless – the famous Grande Roue for instance, whose baskets were nothing less than real train carriages! Just imagine how big and powerful it had to be!

The Exposition has many revolutionary attractions to show. A clear sense of confidence and freedom permeates the objects and scenes exposed. You will find in full-version, Georges Melies's movie, "Voyage dans la lune" ("A Trip to the Moon"), which is a must-see!

You will also get to see the first accessories used by Parisian women "les Parisiennes", such as their beloved hand fan.

The Parisian woman is indeed at the very heart of the exhibition. You will find a room full of gorgeous dresses very in vogue at the time, such as a beautiful cloak designed by Charles Frederick Worth. It all goes to show how Parisian women were envied and their style copied all over the world, thanks to famous seamstresses like Jeanne Paquin. The “Parisienne” was in fact the symbol of the World’s Fair!

The World’s Fair truly embodies the city’s prestige – all the artists and craftsmen of the world flocked to Paris during those golden years, even the simple "midinettes". Do you wonder who they were? The exhibition will explain it all !

You will also be able to admire Muchas’ gorgeous posters and the Lumière brothers very first movies. Take a moment to admire the picture by Eugene Atget of a "salon de la métempsycose", and the marvels of the "Art Nouveau" room, which include jewels by Lalique, Daum lamps, arabesque trimmed furniture and porcelain vases from the Sèvre factory.

The "Fine Arts" room has a wide range of the greatest artworks from Rodin, Degas and Cézanne, precursors of Modern Art. But I must say my personal favourite is Louis Convers "La Source", one of is masterpieces. This sumptuous white marble statue of a naked young woman is quite representative of that time.

You will also be amazed to see the unique armchair that Edward VII, future king of England, ordered to a Parisian cabinetmaker. Find out by yourself why there was nothing royal about it… You will see royalty from a different perspective and realize that our politicians today do nothing but perpetuate an ancient tradition that already existed at the time. Paparazzi would have had much to do in rue Chabanais!

One has to remember that Paris and its "demi-mondaines" - the courtesans of the time – like the voluptuous Cleo de Merode were very much appreciated by the international gentry. Many a painting convey an atmosphere of festivity and debauchery. Nadar immortalizes these marvelous creatures, some of whom were very young. The First World War, when women had to work in factories and hospitals, has yet to come, and postcards show us how idle the typical day of a Parisienne could be.

The most famous Parisian is the great Sarah Bernhardt. There she is, gorgeous, radiant, dressed as a man on Mucha’s posters. You will realize how famous she was at the time and discover the many other talents she had.

In short, you have to go see this exhibition, along with the beautiful permanent collections in the museum. Then finish your visit with a delicious Lenôtre pastry in the restaurant/café, located in the midst of a luxuriant garden and wonderful mosaics by Facchina.

You will have a discount on your ticket by showing your Eiffel Tower Ticket or Musée des Arts décoratifs ticket at the entrance. What a better way to discover the Petit Palais and all the marvels it has to offer!