If you’re a movie buff, then you’ll discover cinemas in the French capital that will not disappoint. Whether you want to marvel at the wonders of avant-garde filmmakers, or simply find a cosy cinema-house in which to enjoy a Hollywood blockbuster, there’s a great choice of places to go. Some of the cinemas are even on river barges! Here is our list of 10 of the best.
Everyone knows that the river Seine is the real essence of Paris, the lifeblood of the city of love. So why stick to dry land when you can head to the cinema on its beautiful water? Le Péniche Cinéma, located in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, is a truly unique experience. It’s definitely the city’s hidden gem when it comes to cinema. As well as screening arthouse films, this boat also holds workshops in film-making. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also DJ nights, dance events, cocktail parties, art exhibitions, and mouth-watering food served during the day.
The Anako barge, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, is moored near the lively quai de Seine. The barge is bustling with fun during its summer festival, l’Eté du Canal, when the boat is transformed into an entertainment hub on the waterfront. As well as sport, and cultural activities such as concerts, dances, water-based leisure activities, street-art, and parties, the open-air cinema draws the crowds to the water’s edge. The cinema screenings are less frequent than at La Péniche Cinéma, but there’s a more bohemian vibe here. Whichever time of year you decide to visit, you’re in for a unique experience – every month, a region in the world is put in the spotlight with a changing programme of events to suit the theme.
The Gaumont Alésia cinema, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, offers an exquisite selection of films. The programme’s focus is on the latest releases, unlike the other venues offering more artsy selections, as the abundance of movie posters plastered across its huge façade show. But it’s not just Hollywood films with French subtitles on offer, as there’s great value placed on screening the best of contemporary French cinema, and rightly so! Completed in 2016, the Gaumont Cinema, Alesia is a spacious venue with 3,600 square metres of entertainment for eager film-fans, who liven up the place both day and night.
Le Balzac is one of the coolest movie theatres in Paris, well-loved for its independent arthouse films as well as its gorgeous Art Deco main auditorium. With a history going back to 1935, the venue has changed its values quite drastically since it opened. Inaugurated with a screening of King Vidor’s The Wedding Night, the Balzac at first specialised in major Hollywood productions. But then once the Second World War was over and keen to inspire nationalistic pride, the venue began to celebrate French cinema. They helped emerging talent, such as René Clément and Jacques Tati, gain popularity before focusing on international arthouse production. Balzac’s director, Jean-Jacques Schpoliansky, captured the ambiance of Le Balzac perfectly when he compared it to ‘a literary salon, where people can discuss and imagine changes in society’.
La Cinémathèque Française is not just a place to watch films, with regular screenings of the avant-garde and old classics, it’s also a museum with special temporary and permanent exhibitions. You can marvel at everything from 17th-century optical boxes and magic lanterns, to relics of Lumière cinematography and legendary costumes worn by Hollywood greats. The likes of Vivien Leigh, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Louise Brooks, to name just a few. Some of the most obscure relics on show, in between the original posters and studio scenery, are cult objects including the female robot from the film Metropolis, directedby Fritz Lang and the head of Mrs Bates in Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. There’s also an impressive library that’s free to enter with your museum or cinema ticket. It turns the cinema experience into a whole day fiasco of fun and learning, rather than being just a brief evening visit.
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