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Encyclopedia > Belle Epoque

The Belle poque, or "beautiful era", was a period in France's history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I.

Occurring at the midpoint of the Third Republic, the Belle poque was considered a golden time of beauty, innovation, and peace between France and its European neighbors. New inventions made life easier at all social levels, the cultural scene thrived, cabaret, cancan, and the cinema were born, and art took new forms with Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Art and architecture in the style of this era in other nations is also sometimes called "Belle poque" style.

While art and innovation flourished, this time period also saw the rise of working-class militancy and organized socialist movements. These conflicts as well as various political scandals began to polarize the country between the "Left" and the "Right." Regardless, this time period is remembered in France as a golden time of the past that was shattered by the outbreak of World War I.



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