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The Best Silver Screen Cinemas of Paris

 

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Story by Jade Maitre, Gadabout Paris Correspondent

It is a rare person who visits Paris because of Liam Neeson’s blockbuster Taken. But mention Paris Je T’Aime, Amelie, Before Sunset or even the truly awful (but strangely watchable) French Kiss, and you’ve got people in a swoon. Never mind if they’ve never actually set foot in the romantic capital of the world. Actually, particularly if they haven’t. You see, some things are just better when there’s a glimmer of silver around the Big Screen.

Which is why, if you’re going to catch a film in Paris, you might as well do it in style. Leave the mass production line of Les Halles, with its whopping 19 screens and teens sporting Adidas and acne… hunt out the quaint little flicker houses instead. At the seductive end of film-watching, there are some exquisite art-house cinemas that specialise in making your voyeurism as French as Film Noir.

First, there’s the Studio Galande. Most famed for showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show at ten past ten every Friday and Saturday nights (complete with eager participants who identify with nightly troupes and still dress up) there are also regular programs of well-known arthouse, as well as low-budget, original version films.

Cinema-Ursulines-Paris.jpgAlso on the must-visit list in the 5th arrondisement is Le Studio des Ursulines, which has been coined the “original arthouse cinema”. The cinema house was originally established in the roaring twenties by two actors, with the mission of being committed to screening emerging French avant-garde films. Actor founders or no, Le Studio des Ursulines now shines as a star in its own right. View its cosy selection of avant garde films in the retro red plush screening rooms and feel a shining part of French film history.

Le Champollion, also in the 5th arrondisement, rode and continues to ride a more-than 70-year long a wave of amour when it replaced a bookshop in 1938, and in doing so, created a film institution. The secret to Le Champo’s success probably lies in its vicinity to a number of universities in the Latin Quartier, which meant that many film students who later became French cinema greats developed their appetites on Le Champo’s juicy fare.  Continuing to sate appetites all round, today there are Film Nights that show three films and end in a scrumptious breakfast.

But if you’re after an exquisite setting, just before and after you lose yourself in the dimmed lights and silver screen, then the Max Linder Panorama will be a treat. The cinema gives film-goers an excursion into the lavish when they enter the theatre – opened in 1932, there are marble floors, Florentine stucco walls, and even a large, slightly-curved screen to enhance your cinema experience. The Max Linder Panorama claims it is a cinema where you will “want to rest a while”, and there is a nearby café where you can do just that.

Le Brady provided for an altogether different clientele in its theatre history – the cinema was originally a flicker house for horror films – predominantly of the vampire and monster variety. Yowl! But jumping off the boat a little too early (don’t mention Twilight!) they now specialise instead in old original-version films. It is currently also undergoing a facelift, with a new hall and restoration of old (circa 1956) facades.

Meanwhile, La Cinémathèque Française delivers all that the name promises. It dedicates itself to conserving and restoring films in its arhives and collections; programming the grand French classics, complete retrospectives, and homages to cinematographers, actors, producers and technicians; exhibiting objects in its collections, and organising temporary exhibitions demonstrating the richness of French cinema and its impact with the other arts. It offers a library, a museum, multimedia spaces, and a number of activities throughout the year… For those who don’t just like to sit there and watch.

Finally, the Cinema Mac-Mahon offers intimate screenings of a small selection of films on a regular basis, and seeks to emphasise quality over quantity. This doesn’t mean your big-budget Beowulf digital masturbations, but rather classics or obscure gems, with benefits. They’re talking good acting, or interesting photography, or unique storylines…. especially for those who just want to see the world in black and white.

The Addresses You’ll Need To Know…

STUDIO GALANDE
42 rue Galande
5th Arrondissement, Paris 75005
Tel: 33 8 92 68 06 24

LES STUDIO DES URSULINES
10 rue des Ursulines
5th Arrondissement, Paris 75005
Tel: 33 1 56 81 15 20

LE CHAMPOLLION
51 rue des Ecoles
5th Arrondissement, Paris 75005
Tel: 33 1 43 54 51 60

MAX LINDER PANORAMA
24 boulevard Poissonnière
9th Arrondissement, Paris 75009
Tel: 33 892 68 50 52

LE BRADY
39 Boulevard de Strasbourg
10th Arrondissement, Paris 75010
Tel: 33 1 47 70 08 86

LA CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAIS
51 rue de Bercy
12th Arrondissement, Paris 75012

CINEMA MAC-MAHON
5 avenue Mac-Mahon
17th Arrondissement, Paris 75017
Tel: 33 892 68 05 98

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