This was, everyone agreed, one of the most spectacular openings to a European car show for many a long day.
Not only was it packed with headline grabbers like the new jet-powered Jaguar C-X75, and some expected executive mainstreamers like the new VW Passat, but with a whole suite of practical, good-looking hybrids and electric vehicles – such as Renault's showroom-ready Zoe – to underscore the fact that a seismic shift to electric traction really is about to happen.
Above all, everyone noted the remarkable change of mood from the previous Paris salon, two years ago, when recessionary fears were running so high – as one grizzled industry veteran put it – that the only thing most car industry bosses cared about was the overnight bank rate.
This year's event could not be more of a contrast: the recession might not exactly be over yet, but the fundamentally forward-looking automotive industry has long since decided to do what it always does in a crisis: build better cars and find a way to sell them to sufficient customers.
There was lots of gear-changing going on. Jaguar's designers – who by popular vote unveiled the show's most stunning concept car – reckoned their new mid-engined CX75 hybrid (which won't make production but bristles with design cues to forthcoming sports cars) was their first chance for years to take a proper look into the future. The new grille, design boss Ian Callum told us, wasn't far from a production car.
The array of new Lotus concepts – three sports cars, a coupé, a saloon and a city car – was unprecedented at any previous motor show, and simply swet up more burning questions for new boss Dany Bahar and his managers: could this extraordinary plan to raise volume and prices at the same extraordinary rate ever prosper?