Astonishing Color Footage Shows What Paris Looked Like 120 Years Ago

At the end of the 19th century, Paris was a hub of art, culture and technology.

France was experiencing its Belle Époque (beautiful age), a period categorized by prosperity, peace and innovation.

The capital was awash with glorious fashions and stunning vistas—much like it is today—and Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean Lumière were there to capture it on film.

The Lumière Brothers patented the projected motion picture and using their invention, shot footage of the Paris between 1896 and 1900.

Although it is fascinating to look at, it was, until now, in black and white.

But David Martin, who works by day at a utilities company, has painstakingly brought the footage to life by colorizing it using artificial intelligence, and the result is absolutely breathtaking.

His work was shared to YouTube on April 25, along with the caption: "[4k, 50fps, colorized] (1900). A Sunday in Paris. Lumiere Brothers."

In the footage, which can be viewed here, we are transported back to familiar landmarks including the then recently-built Eiffel Tower, the still-intact Notre-Dame Cathedral and famed Champs-Élysées street.

We can also see the elaborate fashions of the woman in long skirts and tall hats, as well as the sharply tailored men's suits.

The video also affords us a peek at daily life, including children playing with boats at Tuileries Garden, and people commuting in horse-drawn carriages.

Speaking to Newsweek, Martin explained: "I always liked classic cinema, and with the new tools using artificial intelligence I decided to mix both hobbies and try to restore these old movies for the new generations."

This particular video took him two weeks in total, four hours every weekday evening and 12 hours daily on the weekend.

The 49-year-old, who lives in Spain, added: "At first I didn't want to colorize this footage, because I thought it was not respectful to the original work.

"But on the other hand, I want people to watch these these movies and not to forget them. I don't know why but many people don't even consider watching black and white movies."

On the subject of how much Paris has changed in over 120 years, Martin revealed: "I mean, there are certain elements that remain exactly the same.

"But when you look at the people, at fashion or cars, its completely different. It's a strange feeling because if you don't look at people, then you can think you are really there."

He also shared that coloring the footage can help people relate to the subjects of the video and not feel "separated" by more than a century.

Martin's video has so far been viewed more than 634,400 times and has also gone viral on Twitter with 1.3 million views after being shared by British journalist Jeremy Vine.

Many people rushed to the comments section to share their delight at the clip.

One YouTube user, Robin Chesterfield wrote: "This, is seriously one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. The quality is GORGEOUS and suddenly makes all those quaint old-timey people seem truly..._real_.

"Like, they always were, but it feels different when you can see them looking you right in the camera as if they were cosplayers from modern day. This almost feels like actual time travel! I'm TOTALLY watching the other videos on this channel. "

Another person, Woodstock69, added: "This was Paris at it's most beautiful. No wonder this timeframe produced so many amazing artists, musicians and literature."

Roxane M revealed: "I live in Paris, not so far from Place de La Concorde and it's amazing for me to see those beautiful images. Snow is so rare now in Paris. Wonderful music with this video, many thanks for the share !!"

GauntletTCF stated: "I just realized that if that's 1900 many of those little boys we see in these videos probably participated to WWI. Most of the people there saw it all and many of them survived to see WWII.

"I know it's something obvious, but it's so strange to see them all so happy, all concerned with their lives and hoping for a better future, without knowing a thing about the crappy century they're about to go through."

Llikevideojunk observed: "Beautiful people with amazing architecture and culture."

Starling ASMR commented: "The quality is insane!"

Paris in 1900
A still form David Martin's colorized version of A Sunday in Paris by the Lumiere Brothers. David Martin/ YouTube