With almost 400 theaters in Paris showing 600 films on any given day, choosing just one film can be daunting.
First things first: Get your hands on a Pariscope, the weekly entertainment guide available at any newsstand, or visit Allocine.com. (In cinema listings, “v.f.” stands for “version francaise,” meaning it’s dubbed in French with no subtitles. “V.o.” is “version originale,” which means the film is presented in its original language with subtitles in French.)
Spotlight on… Studio 28
My own favorite cinema is little Studio 28, the only movie house on the hill of Montmartre. With just 170 seats and about ten screenings a week, it has earned a special place in the Parisian filmscape.
Founded in 1928 (hence the name), it immediately carved a niche in history as the world’s first avant-garde art theater. Studio 28’s fame was secured when Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel premiered one of the first surrealist films there: “L’Age d’Or” (The Golden Age).
Before you go
Today, Studio 28 provides a delightful experience while remaining relatively inexpensive, compared to other Paris movie theatres. During July, it offers a special reduced-fare series featuring international classics like “Rebel Without a Cause”, “East of Eden”, “Roman Holiday”, and “Double Indemnity”, among others.
The cinema offers a rare opportunity to experience films the way they were before the multiplex—it’s no wonder that Audrey Tautou’s “Amélie Poulain” headed to Studio 28 every Friday.
Also to note: Studio 28 maintains a rotating display of artwork, and showcases the hand- and footprints of famous actors and directors who have premiered films there.
A bar at the end of the lobby opens onto a small beer garden (enclosed in winter) where you can sit and have a drink or some snacks before the show. Once you’ve entered the auditorium, settle into your plush red seat, let your eyes adjust to the dark, and make sure you check out the old piano nearby. It last saw serious use when Charlie Chaplin showed his movies here. The large set of surrealist light fixtures in the same auditorium were created by artist/film director Jean Cocteau.
Practical info: Studio 28 is located at 10 rue Tholozé in the 18th arrondissement (Metros Abbesses or Blanche). Phone: 01 46 06 36 07, or check online for current listings. Tickets are usually €7.50 (students €6.30)
Other cinemas of note
La Pagode (57, rue de Babylone, 7th arrondissement), looks like a Japanese temple. It was built for the wife of the founder of Au Bon Marché, the oldest department store in the city.
Le Balzac (just off the Champs-Elysées at 1, rue Balzac) will make you feel like you’re on a steamship bound for a distant land, thanks to its porthole-and-riveted-steel-hatchways ocean liner decor.
At La Péniche Cinéma that particular aesthetic is carried even further, as the theater actually is a ship—well, a barge, anyway—docked at Parc de la Villette each winter, and then moored at La Villette canal basin all summer.
Le Grand Rex is by far the city’s largest and flashiest theater. Located at 1, boulevard Poissonnière (between Metros Grands Boulevards and Bonne Nouvelle), this humongous movie palace was erected in 1932 at the height of the Art Deco movement. It can seat audiences of 5,000.
Do you have a favorite Paris cinema? Tell us about it in the comment section below!