Going to the movies is a no-brainer of a cheap date pretty much anywhere in the world. But France is the birthplace of cinema, and the Lumière brothers invented the concept when they held their first paid public film screening in Paris in 1895.
Today the French are Europe’s number one movie-going population (and in the world’s top five), and the number of movie screens in Paris (some 376) rivals the number of French cheeses (an estimated 365).
American movies might make up 43% of the French market, but the French are the fifth largest producers of movies in the world, and Paris cinemas offer everything from obscure art house fare to classic films to new releases from around the world. If you’re in the mood for a complimentary French lesson, go see a French film, or an American movie with French subtitles (be sure to check that your film is “V.O.”, or original version; otherwise it will be dubbed).
Cinema discounts for locals
An average full-price ticket to a Paris movie theater is about €10. But Paris residents who want unbridled movie-going access can sign up for monthly unlimited passes with mega-chains Gaumont/Pathé or UGC/MK2 for around €20 per month. French cinemas offer discounts to card-carrying students, seniors, the unemployed, the handicapped and large families with three or more children.
But there are plenty of everyday tricks to save on admission for the rest of the movie-going masses, visitors included.
MK2 cinemas, with locations all over the city (including a romance-friendly theater with two-person love seats at their MK2 Bibliotheque location in the 13th arrondissement) offer a 5-ticket pre-paid movie passes for €34.50 that are valid for two months, and can be used for up to three entries at a time if your Paris love affair is of the “Jules et Jim” variety. That comes out to €6.90 per person for new releases.
Some theaters offer reduced prices of €6 for the first showing before noon (and if you’re on vacation, there’s nothing wrong with seeing a movie in the morning and having breakfast in bed after dark). Check out Allociné for more information on individual theater prices and showtimes.
Movies open on Wednesdays in France. At cinemas like La Bastille in the 11th arrondissement, tickets are €5 all day every Wednesday.