The World Fairs in Paris

With 7 World Fairs, Paris is the city of cultural exhibitions.

Palais de Chaillot, Trocadéro, Paris © Thinkstock

Paris has always been capable of exciting attention by its constant presence at the hub of what’s happening now. The reflected glory of its major exhibitions and its talent as a host are sufficient to draw crowds from all over the world. Natural successors to the World Fairs that placed Paris at the top of the tree, its modern-day exhibitions, on a great variety of subjects, are just as likely to be major popular successes. These days, all eyes are on Paris just at the mention of a painter’s name, the theme of a show, its originality, its setting. Every day, Paris offers a huge choice of some 100 exhibitions, where it goes without saying that quality and quantity go hand in hand.

Seven World Fairs in Paris

If the concept of the World Fair first saw the light of day in London in 1851, Paris wasted no time in reaching the forefront in the organization of this type of event.

From 1855 to 1937, the French capital hosted no less than 7 World Fairs, if we count the International Colonial Exhibition of 1931. 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889, 1900, 1931 and 1937: these far-reaching events formed a major showcase for all things French - technical and scientific developments, industry, economy and culture - regularly assigning Paris the role of world leader in all these spheres. Each country represented made every effort to show itself in its smartest, cleverest colours. Visitors and exhibitors flocked from all corners of the globe and in the process, discovered the charms of Paris. The 1900 World Fair beat all records with over 50 million visitors and 83,000 exhibitors. Without a doubt, the huge success of these events contributed to the capital’s growing prestige.

Prestigious monuments

A multitude of imposing but ephemeral constructions appeared within the framework of these World Fairs. For the most part they were later dismantled, but the Parisian landscape inherited nonetheless a handful of distinctive monuments: the Eiffel Tower (1889), the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Alexandre III Bridge (1900), the Palais de la Porte Dorée (1931) and the Palais de Chaillot and Palais de Tokyo (1937).