The Belle Époque was a golden age of Europe at the end of the 19th century and the first
decades of the 20th. It was a time when before WWI, art, theatre, music, technology, economy,
and thus life, thrived. It was characterized by optimism, celebration, and indulgence, and
absolutely nowhere was this more evident than in Paris, the epicenter of this golden age.
Perhaps this atmosphere is best illustrated in the paintings of Renoir from the time. Oh how I
would have loved to see Paris in this era!
Today it’s as vibrant as ever, but the memory of this especially spectacular moment in Paris's rich
history lives on through some of its most historic institutions and iconic architecture. The Art
Nouveau movement that perhaps most visually characterized the Belle Époque gave us so
many of the city’s ornate fixtures, historic cafés, outdoor artworks, and architectural
masterpieces. If like me you love to see cities through the lens of a century past, here is a mini
guide to some of my Belle Époque favorites in Paris where this fantastic era still lives on!
Maxime’s — This legendary brasserie is alive and well today. During the Belle Époque it was the
hot spot to dine and dance, entertaining so many of the city’s most noteworthy residents and
visitors alike. The clientele today is new but the decor inside is still adorned in its original Art
Nouveau details, and after all these years it’s still one of the hippest places in Paris for a night
Le Bofinger — If I’ve got something to celebrate, I love to go to this historic brasserie for oysters
and champagne. Its beautiful stain glass dome ceiling lights the main dining room, and with its
white tables cloths and impeccable service, it has an elegance reminiscent of centuries past.
Metro Abbesses — Yes, even in Paris the subway stations are a work of art! The beautiful and
iconic entries to the underground were created by the famous artist Hector Guimard himself.
They have undoubtedly become a symbol of Paris. One of the most beautiful can be found in
Montmartre at the stop Abbesses.
Le Petit Zinc — The famous façade of Le Petit Zinc is also modeled in the style of Hector
Guimard’s Parisian metros. Many stop to admire it while strolling Paris’s Left Bank. Those who
choose to dine inside can indulge in its equally Art Nouveau interiors.
Closerie des Lilas — Also on the Left Bank, this historic restaurant was opened in 1847! Since
then it was a hangout for famous artists and writers, like Rimbaud, Picasso, Hemmingway, and
more. The restaurant and piano bar live on today in their original style and is still a beloved
place for Parisians and visitors.
Galeries Lafayette — A must-visit shopping destination, Galeries Lafayette’s giant stain glass
dome ceiling from the Belle Epoqué is a true masterpiece of the era’s architecture. The cafes on
the top floors offer some of the best vantage points for taking in its details.
The Wallace Fountains — Wallace fountains are public drinking fountains that appear in the
form of small cast-iron sculptures scattered throughout the city. A great aesthetic success, they
are recognized worldwide as one of the symbols of Paris. A tiny detail but not to be overlooked!