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Numerous illuminations were organised to attractively light up the many pavilions at night and to demonstrate the newly developed virtuosity of fountains and electricity. This involved illuminating the fountains, transforming the Seine into a vibrant glittering avenue of light, illuminating the roads and paths, lighting up the buildings from inside and outside with colourful spotlights, and accentuating this sea of light by fireworks displays. Swarms of balloons rose into the night sky illuminated by coloured spotlights. The square in front of the Trocadero was particularly magnificent with its view towards the Peace Column and the colourful show around the Eiffel Tower whose arches were lit by 10,000 neon lamps in three different colours, not to mention the fireworks mounted from top to bottom of the tower showering the night sky with nocturnal cascades of colour.

The two hundred up to 60 metre high fountains on the Seine had to be submersible to allow safe passage for shipping. The synchronisation of light, sound, and fireworks was carried out from two ultramodern electric control panels. The spotlights transformed the World Exposition Site into a fantastic kaleidoscope to the sound of scores specially composed for the illuminations by avant-garde musicians such as Milhaud, Auric and Honegger. At night, the material world appeared to dissolve and the Exhibition Site with its inhomogeneous mixture of pavilions was transformed into a uniform composition. Paris could once again claim to be the "City of Lights".

This spectacle, which ran like clockwork, benefited from the thorough preparation which began at the same time as the first architectural plans were being draw up. The architect Granet was employed solely to organise the illumination of the Eiffel Tower; the architects Beaudouin and Lods experimented for two years to perfect the whole sequence.

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The Paris World Exposition 1937
The night-time sea of light - the illuminations
Year: 1937City: ParisCountry: France
Duration: 25th May - 25th November 1937



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