A Trip Through Victorian Paris, France

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An evening pause: This footage was taken from 1896 to 1900 in Paris, and has been cleaned up and shown here at the correct speed with sound added to match the visuals. What you will see:

0:08 – Notre-Dame Cathedral (1896)
0:58 – Alma Bridge (1900)
1:37 – Avenue des Champs-Élysées (1899)
2:33 – Place de la Concorde (1897)
3:24 – Passing of a fire brigade (1897)
3:58 – Tuileries Garden (1896)
4:48 – Moving walkway at the Paris Exposition (1900)
5:24 – The Eiffel Tower from the Rives de la Seine à Paris (1897)

What strikes me is the dignified behavior and dress of the people. We are of course mostly looking at Paris’s high class streets, but nonetheless there is something in the culture that requires them to behave as civilized as they can.



  • Edward

    Even in movies from before the 1960s and especially from pre-WWII, we can see that people were expected to dress well, even when going to an amusement park.

  • wayne

    The same creator, has quite a few early films in a similar vain, all very nicely cleaned up, stabilized, contrast corrected, etc. (it’s amazing.)
    -The only thing I object to, is the addition of sound FX’s.

    Edward- great clip.

  • mike shupp

    What struck me first was how darned NOISY all those horses and wagons were. Probably no worse than modern day automobile traffic, to be honest, but somehow one expects an auto-less setting to be quieter.

    The second thing was the lack of “traffic control.” Wide streets, no lane markings, no stopping and going as street lights change — not even stop signs, now I think about it. Wagons going to the right, going to the left, heading up and down the streets, bicyclists and pedestrians in equal disarray. Those people would be totally clueless in dropped onto a sidewalk in a modern city , or even the parking area in a contemporary shopping mall.

    And then the clothing. I don’t share the opinion that those people were “well dressed,” Formally attired, I’ll go along with, but just about all of them — the men in particular — wore more clothing than seemed necessary. I’m half inclined to think this due to inadequate heating — streets were chillly or windy for pedestrians, shops and houses unheated except in Winter time, and so on. But I’m also half inclined to think was deliberate choice, that elaborate dress was a display of social status. Look at me! It takes a LONG time to set these collar stays each morning and to get all these buttons properly fastened! Did all those children actually need hats?

    Last but not least, Man, the Eiffel Tower was BIG!

    Interesting indeed! I’ve a fondness for murder mysteries in Victorian settings, and for Gilbert & Sullivan, and late 19th century painting … I’m going to come back to view this again. Thank you!

  • Alex Andrite

    Behaving Civilized ….
    We must be, with wisdom and discretion, growing in conscience, behave Civilized.
    Wise as a Serpent, Gentle as a Dove.
    Or the animal beast will prevail.

    Such a good video, of which I have forwarded to my Teacher / Educator friends.

    Thank you R.Z.

  • Orion314

    Must have been Vunderbar to live in a time when you could convince yourself, all is well.
    I’m just jealous, i’ve never lived in a period such as that. never will

  • Robert Pratt

    The scale of architecture was more human, even the grand cathedral and tower but what I liked best were a few of those tiny waisted women!😂

  • Robert Pratt: You know, I noticed that too, in that it seemed to me that most of the women seemed constrained in their movements from what I assumed were girdles.

  • FC

    Speaking of constrained movement, I expect many of the women and men were wearing hard-soled boots that rose above the ankle. That alone is enough to “dignify” a person’s movements.

  • Localfluff

    Too bad that Europe now will be totally destroyed and turned into the islamic terror tyranny where anyone who doesn’t obey the stone age laws of the stone age pedophile prophet will be murdered, and where those who convert during torture will be enslaved. The word “islam” means “slavery”. The tyrannic enslavement of islam is upheld by violently forced inbreeding. Inbreeding genetically destroys the IQ and empathy of the offspring. Turning them into vegetative zombies, completely occupied with imagining themselves being offended (the shame culture), all over the Middle East where previously industrious cultures prospered.

  • Andi

    Mike: There’s really no way to tell how noisy the scenes were. Mr. Z’s posting states “shown here at the correct speed with sound added to match the visuals”. Sound had to be added, as I’m pretty sure that “talkies” did not come around for a few decades after these films were shot.

    How did those women ever keep their skirts clean, dragging them along the ground through all the dirt, horse manure, etc.

    Interesting to note that when automobiles first became popular, they were hailed as being pollution free! Horse pollution, that is.

  • wayne

    see you in a week….

  • F16 Guy

    I see no obese people.
    Compare turn of the century Paris to 2018 America.
    What has changed ?
    Personally, I have been low carb/high fat/no sugar for several years.
    How about rowing across the Pacific on mostly all fat :

  • wayne

    F16 Guy–
    Can’t readily find a link, but the stats for “caloric intake, per capita, United States, 1900-1970-ish, are quite striking. (and as you are probably aware, the composition of such, has changed dramatically over time.)
    Don’t quote me, but we’re in the 3,400/calories/day, zone. I believe the highest on the Planet.
    Unfortunately I don’t recall the calorie stat for 1900, but it was materially less than that amount.

    Mr. Z.– are you up on the amount of calories our Colonial ancestors consumed?

    Again– I really enjoy these type of “cleaned up” silent films [this is absolutely amazing video technology we have now,– stabilization & contrast are beautiful] but I object to the added sound FX’s. (I object to colorizing film originally shot in B&W, as well.)

    Pivoting tangentially–

    I must share this—

    Medicus Collection
    ~ Reel 1 ~
    New York Worlds Fair 1939
    [the complete collection is hosted at archive dot org]

    Absolutely amazing amateur photography, in color, (but silent) of the 1939 Worlds Fair. 1 of like’ 20 reels that Dr. Medicus filmed on his vacation. Extremely well done for an amateur, he inserted titles & captions, and the color is striking.
    (I have the whole set; I added my own background music & burned them to DVD.)

  • Andi: Talking films arrived in full force around 1930.

  • Wayne askes, “Mr. Z.– are you up on the amount of calories our Colonial ancestors consumed?”

    I am not, but I also know they worked very hard. It was a hard life. They were pioneers. They could easily have eaten twice what we do, and lost weight.

  • Matt in AZ

    Andi asked “How did those women ever keep their skirts clean, dragging them along the ground through all the dirt, horse manure, etc.”

    I’m guessing that’s why black skirts and trousers seemed to be the people’s fashion in most of that footage. What you can’t wash out won’t show as badly… and you could probably re-stain the material black?

  • Matt in AZ

    Mike: there’s an entertaining Dollop podcast episode where the hosts discuss the turbulent impact on society of cars taking over streets. One major outrage of the time was about children having nowhere to play if the streets were no longer an option. And lots of talk about sheer filth.


  • wayne

    Mr. Z.,
    yes– a highly variable amount. The mean, median, and mode figure, would be an interesting stat.

    for the engineers in the audience:
    “Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation”
    “basic caloric requirement for resting metabolic rate”
    10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

    Some interesting graphs at–
    —but they don’t go back too far—

    Interestingly– the mid 1950’s in the USA (surprisingly) had an historically low, per capita caloric consumption rate.

  • wayne

    History Brief: Daily Life in the 1930s (USA)

    you bring up some very real existential conditions that people just put up with as a matter of course.
    There is a difference between “American cities” vs. “European cities,” (and urban vs. rural) but that aside; daily life was fairly dirty, for everyone–manure on the streets/ coal/firewood smoke in the air, they had “soap” and not detergent, and antibiotics didn’t exist. And… routine activities of daily life generally did not include all the niceties we take for granted every day.

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