La Belle Époque (“Beautiful Era”) was a period stretching from 1871 to the beginning of World War I in 1914. Coinciding with the French Third Republic (beginning 1870), it was a period of peace in Europe, optimism, technological innovation and scientific discovery. The arts flourished in Paris, with many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual art gaining worldwide recognition.
The newly wealthy United States, after emerging from the Panic of 1873, experienced a similar epoch that was dubbed the “Gilded Age”. In the United Kingdom, the Belle Époque overlapped with the decadent late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Germany has its own golden age under the helm of Kaiser Wilhelm I & II, whilst in Russia it was during the reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II.
In contrast to the horrors of World War I, the period was fondly remembered as idyllic, a “golden age”. And so it was named “The Beautiful Era” in hindsight, a fond memory of the good life.