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Nouveau Cirque, 1889

Located from 1886 to 1926 on the rue Saint Honoré in Paris, a chic shopping thoroughfare at a stone’s throw of the Place Vendôme, the Nouveau Cirque was the most elegant and innovative circus of the French capital—and, for that matter, of Europe. For many years, it was the High Society’s circus of choice. Its relatively small size gave it warmth and intimacy (it was sometimes referred to as a "bonbonniere"), but in time, the Nouveau Cirque’s limited capacity made it difficult to manage. It began to lose its prominence before the first World War and proved unable to adapt to the post-war era.

The Nouveau Cirque was built for its times—what is remembered today as the Parisian "Belle Époque" ("Beautiful Era"), of which it was one of the jewels. After WWI, Paris entered the Jazz Age. Then, in the early 1920s, the venerable Cirque d’Hiver, completely refurbished, returned to the presentation of circus shows after a rather futile hiatus as a movie-house and theater; the Cirque Medrano began to enjoy one of its more lucrative periods; and the brand-new Empire Music-Hall Cirque opened its doors Avenue de Wagram: The small "bonbonniere" that was the Nouveau Cirque looked suddenly like a remnant of another era. It faced a competition it was ill-equipped to fight. Once a revolutionary and trendsetting house whose rich and often glorious life had lasted forty years, the Nouveau Cirque finally called it quits.

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