The big-screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables opens in theaters tomorrow, and we couldn’t be more excited. Considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, the five-volume, 365-chapter tale is as much a meditation on the complex moral and social struggles of humanity as it is a historical study of France and the architecture and urban design of Paris. The tome was first published in 1862, just before the beginning of the beguiling Belle Époque, or beautiful era, France’s golden age of affluence and artistic creativity that occurred before the turmoil of the First World War. From the architectural wonders built for the same World’s Fair that gave us the Eiffel Tower to the most famous, elaborate Art Nouveau restaurant, click through to be reminded of the design epoch that gave us one of the world’s most whimsical and romantic cities.
The Trocadéro for the 1878 World’s Fair by Gabriel Davioud