In addition to its beautiful historical sights, fresh baguettes, and good wine, Paris is famous for its cultural and artistic atmosphere. There are an enormous number of museums and interesting expositions, as well as concerts and cinemas that are almost always crowded. This fact is not so surprising - the love for the seventh art, as the cinema is often called, is rooted deeply in French history. It is here, at boulevard des Capucines, where one of the first cinema projections in the world was created and where cinema critics began. It is also here, where the “cinephilia” movement and the famous French New Wave were born during the 50’s and 60’s. In fact, there are still some cinemas in Paris that have preserved this extraordinary atmosphere of the Golden Age of cinematography, where students gobbled one film after another. The neon signs of these theatres as well as the old projection halls have intellectual charm and if you don’t experience at least one movie you’ll miss a big part of Parisian culture. So, what cinemas you should not miss if you want to watch Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut? Here is a brief list of the most interesting cinemas.
Le Champo - back to the 60's
There is one tiny street in Paris that hides three of these cinema treasures. This street is located in the 5th Parisian district, next to the metro station Cluny - La Sorbonne and it is called rue Champollion. Literally, there is one old cinema next to another.
The first cinema is right on the corner of the street and it is called “le Champo”, based on its location. Le Champo is a small, old cinema with a very interesting 60’s-looking façade and extremely familiar atmosphere. At the ticket box, there are always the same vendors including a nice older woman and one younger guy that are always in a good mood. In fact, even the the ticket buying system seems to be stuck in the 50’s – there is no possibility to buy your place in advance and you have to queue to get your seat. So, don’t expect an electronic system, in Le Champo, all is done in person, like during the good old times. It may seem that this mechanism is inefficient and you may think that it would a bit boring to wait like this only to see one simple movie. However, this old system has its magic, as everyone waiting with you is united with the same passion for good cinema. Everyone is talking, smiling, and sharing their impatience to see the film. There is really a nice enthusiastic atmosphere and it will surely make you happy. And, you really won’t be disappointed, as the programme is always perfect. There are often retrospectives of the best world directors such as Robert Bresson, Bernardo Bertolucci, or the Coen Brothers. In addition, all of the films are in very good condition, often projected from digitally-remastered copies, so your experience will be even more intense.
If you are a real cinema lover, you’ll also appreciate whole-night film sessions called “Les Nuits du Champo” (Champo Nights) that often consist of a set of films of one particular director or with one particular subject. Recently, there was a Scorsese movie night! Le Champo has screenings every day and one adult ticket costs 9 EUR (9.8 USD). There is a special offer for students - 7 EUR (7.5 USD) for one ticket.
Contemporary artistic films in Reflet Médicis
Another artistic cinema situated at the rue Champollion is called Reflet Médicis and though the ticketing system works the same as Le Champo, the programme on offer is a bit different. In contrast to Le Champo, Reflet Médicis focuses less on old films and famous directors and tries to present the lesser known, but very interesting, contemporary movies that you can’t see in big cinemas. These small artistic films are chosen very carefully and the cinema opts for a large variety of genres and films from different countries. You can find interesting documentaries about history or social subjects, artistic fictions from all over the world, as well as the newest animated films. Sometimes, Médicis Reflet shows silent films. Lately, they have been shown one of the key-films of the German expressionist movement, “Faust”, by the famous director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. To see such unusual films on a big screen is really an extraordinary experience that isn’t very common.
The programme is varied and everyone will find something that they enjoy. In addition, there is a projectionist that is extremely kind and friendly to the visitors. If you like to discover new, interesting movies, Reflet Médicis is the best option. The price for an adult is 9.5 EUR (10 USD) or 6.9 EUR (7.5 USD) for students.
La filmothèque du Quartier Latin - paradise for cinema lovers
The last cinema of the cinematic trinity of Champollion street is called “La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin” and it is a real Mecca for French cinephiles. The name of its two small projection halls illustrates this fact with eloquence – one is called “salle Marilyn” and the other “salle Audrey” after the two most famous actresses ever – Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Who doesn’t know them? Even if these symbolic names of the halls says it all, the real cinematic rush is the programme that consists of the best films throughout cinematic history. Often, the digital-remastered copy is shown. It is here that you can see the new version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner or the famous Singing in the Rain with the energetic Gene Kelly on a big screen. In addition, La Filmothèque organises a monthly session called “Les leçons de cinéma” (cinema lessons) connecting the film with a presentation of its subject and context done by some famous specialist in the area concerned. So, if you want not only to see movies but also to learn about them, these sessions are perfect for you! In conclusion it needs to be mentioned that La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin has its particular cinema staff. This time, there is an older grey gentleman that always wears a stone-faced expression and sells the tickets while teasing his customers. He is really cool! The price of the ticket is 9 EUR (9.8 USD) for the adults and 6 EUR (6.5 USD) for students.
Desperado - the gangster cinema
We can’t complete the list of the best cinemas without mentioning one additional theatre that is located a bit further that these three. This theatre is called Desperado and is situated at 23 rue des Ecoles, just a few minutes walk from the well-known Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg). Desperado shows old American films, particularly Films Noirs, consisting of dark detective or gangster stories, which are the most favourite films on their programme. If you want to see the best of Hitchcock or watch films with the famous actor Humphrey Bogart, opt for Desperado and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t be afraid, next to the detective films, it shows lots of nice comedies too. The ticket price is 8 EUR (8.5 USD) for an adult and 6 EUR (6.5 USD) for a student.
Experience the best of Parisian art cinemas!
Cinemas belong to Paris as much as the Moulin Rouge or the Eiffel Tower. To experience the real Parisian atmosphere you should try to see at least one show. In the cold and rainy winter you’ll also appreciate the cosy and warm atmosphere of these cinemas. Don’t miss them!
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