Scenes from Life in Paris During the 1920s, Colorized and Restored: Cafés, Notre Dame, Street Life & More

Few cities have been as roman­ti­cized as Paris, and few eras in Paris have been as roman­ti­cized as the nine­teen-twen­ties. This owes much to the famous expa­tri­ate artis­tic and lit­er­ary fig­ures resid­ing there in that decade: Ernest Hem­ing­way, Sal­vador Dalí, F. Scott and Zel­da Fitzger­ald, Pablo Picas­so, Gertrude Stein, and Man Ray, to name just a few of the fig­ures revived in Woody Allen’s Mid­night in Paris. It’s still dif­fi­cult, a cen­tu­ry lat­er, not to feel at least some curios­i­ty about the real Paris in the twen­ties, footage of which you can see col­orized and enhanced to play at a smooth 60 frames per sec­ond in the video above.

In some respects, Paris has­n’t changed much over the past hun­dred or so years. Notre-Dame, the bridges across the Seine, and the colonne Vendôme will be imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­able to any­one who’s been there.

And though the attire of Parisians may be unrec­og­niz­able, their habits cer­tain­ly aren’t: then as now, they clear­ly spent con­sid­er­able amounts of time on les ter­rass­es of their cafés of choice. (And in some cas­es, they’re just the same cafés, as in the case of Le Dôme and Le Café de la Paix.) And though a few of them still read news­pa­pers there in the twen­ty-twen­ties, many more did in the nine­teen twen­ties, the inven­tion of the smart­phone lying about eighty years in the future.

For some of us, the absence of screens alone may feel like rea­son enough to time-trav­el back, as Owen Wilson’s dis­af­fect­ed Hol­ly­wood screen­writer does in Mid­night in Paris. If we con­sid­er the state of plumb­ing, heat­ing and den­tistry in the France after World War I, we may have sec­ond thoughts, and sure­ly our fore­knowl­edge of World War II would also put a damper on the expe­ri­ence. But romance is romance, and if we could suc­cess­ful­ly man­age to inte­grate our­selves into the urban life cap­tured by these film clips, we might just get used to it, and even want to stick around for a few more decades after Hem­ing­way, Picas­so, the Fitzger­alds, et al leave the scene. After all, les Trente Glo­rieuses were still to come.

via MyMod­ern­Met

Relat­ed con­tent:

Pris­tine Footage Lets You Revis­it Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Broth­ers

Beau­ti­ful, Col­or Pho­tographs of Paris Tak­en 100 Years Ago — at the Begin­ning of World War I & the End of La Belle Époque

Watch Scenes from Belle Époque Paris Vivid­ly Restored with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (Cir­ca 1890)

Paris, New York & Havana Come to Life in Col­orized Films Shot Between 1890 and 1931

Vis­it Great Cities in the 1920s in Restored Col­or Film: New York City, Lon­don, Berlin, Paris, Venice & More

Col­or Footage of the Lib­er­a­tion of Paris, Shot by Hol­ly­wood Direc­tor George Stevens (1944)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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