Stereoscopes and mutoscopes were just two of the countless curiosities on display at the Grands Magasins Dufayel, reflecting the pioneering spirit of the store’s owner.

“Thus in the clock room, set aside for inventors, they have set up a superb installation offering cinematograph sessions, lectures, and experiments focusing on the latest scientific conquests, as well as various shows and attractions. The public is thus kept informed […] about everything that can elevate one’s intelligence, enchant the eye, and charm the ear”.

The curtain rose at 2.30 p.m., and screenings took place all week long, Sundays included. The audience was taken on a world tour: Algeria, Syria, picturesque Venice…, and could enjoy films called Les Débuts d’un chauffeur (“The Learner Driver”) – whose scenes were entitled “Leaving the Garage”, “Watch Out For That Cyclist!!!” and “In Trouble” – and Les Facéties du Diable (‘The Devil’s Mischief’), billed as ‘an amazing spectacle made up of thirty-three tableaux presenting countless original and varied theatrical tricks’.

Une visite aux Grands Magasins Dufayel, Paris, Devambez, ca. 1905

Cinématographe des Grands Magasins Dufayel, programme des séances, Paris, Devambez, ca. 1905