Film in France is regarded as highly as any other art form. The French film industry is nearly as prolific as Hollywood and produces high quality films in all genres. Hundreds of films, French, international and old favorites, are screened every week in cinemas across the city. The international films are shown in either French (VF – version francaise) or in their original language (VO – version originale) with French subtitles. Most of the larger cinemas and those in touristy areas, like Champs-Elysees, show movies in VO; just verify the listing before you reserve and buy your tickets.
Films are released on Wednesday and the delay time for international time varies. Some Hollywood blockbusters release on the same day as in the States, for example, while others may begin some weeks later. There is not a consistent formula.
Gaumont (http://www.cinemasgaumontpathe.com), UGC (http://www.ugc.fr) and Mk2(http://www.mk2.com) are the major first-run cinema chains with multi-screen theaters, which have locations all over Paris. You can purchase tickets at the door, but arrive early as films, especially new ones, are popular. It is a safer bet to purchase ahead of time, either by phone or internet on the theater’s website and collect your ticket at the door. Still, arrive early, there are always lines, even to pick up the ticket you have purchased in advance. Visit http://www.allocine.fr for complete listings, locations and times. Allocine is only in French, but is relatively easy to navigate and you can also purchase tickets here.
Tickets average around 11 -12 Euro and there is generally a 1 Euro service charge if you purchase ahead of time online. Some theaters have reduced prices for the first showing of the day and others offer “abonnements” that allow you to pay a fixed amount and see unlimited movies monthly. For example, UGS has a montly unlimited pass for one person for 20.08 Euros or for two people for 35.50 Euros.
There are video stores dotted throughout Paris, although they are becoming harder and harder to find. Stores tend to carry mostly new and recent releases without a large stock of older or classic films. DVD’s and videos are usually available in the original language with subtitles, or dubbed in French. A membership is typically required, but is free with proof of residence. In addition to stores, there are video “ATMs” that are available 24 hours/day.
- Cinebank, http://www.cinebank.fr, Video banks around Paris, available 24 hours/day; credit card required for rental.
- La Boite a Films, http://www.laboiteafilms.com, 24 rue du Champ de Mars 75007, 06.95.74.28.62, Open until 3pm-9pm, more than 8,000 titles on DVD.
You can also purchase DVDs at large chains such as Virgin Megastore and FNAC. Both stores have online ordering and within a few clicks, your DVD can be on the way to you by mail. Another option for purchasing DVDs quickly online is to use http://www.amazon.fr. Not only does Amazon provide overnight service for a small fee, but you will also have a large choice of languages for your film, including subtitles.
More commonly, people are using services such as Netflix (http://www.netflix.com/fr) and CanalPlay (http://www.canalplay.com/decouvrir), which allow you to stream movies and TV shows to your TV, computer and more. Currently, you are able to test the service for free for 1 month. Packages begin at about 8 Euro/month and do not require a contract.
Apple TV is another alternative for home movie/series viewing. Depending on your preference, you can either use the French iTunes, or if you maintain a credit card in your home country, you can use your country’s iTunes. This is an advantage if, for example, you would like to watch a TV series during its current run. Some series will show 6-months – 1 year later on French TV and would not be available in the French iTunes until then. For more information, visit https://www.apple.com/appletv.
There are numerous ballet and dance productions performed throughout the year in Paris.
- Theatre de la Ville, 16, Quai Gesvres, 01.48.87.54.42, http://www.theatredelaville.fr
- Theatre des Champs Elysees, 15, Avenue Montaigne, 01.49.52.50.00, http://www.theatrechampselysees.fr
Paris has more theaters than any other city in the world, but English-language productions are sparse. The four national theaters listed below will sometimes present plays in their original language. Otherwise, check the publications Irish Eyes and Where for English-speaking productions in smaller venues.
- La Colline, 15 rue Malte-Brun 75020, 01.44.62.52.52, http://www.colline.fr
- La Theatre National de l’Odeon, 1, place de l’Odeon 75006, 01.44.41.36.36, http://www.theatre-odeon.fr, (English version available)
- Le Theatre National de Chaillot, 1, place du Trocadero 75016, 01.53.65.30.01, http://www.theatre-chaillot.fr
- La Comedie-Francaise, 2, rue Richelieu 75001, 01.44.58.15.15, http://www.comedie-francaise.fr
The opera and ballet season in Paris runs from September through mid-July and attracts major international stars. The Opera National produces a brochure in English and French that contains schedules for both opera and ballet, and information on obtaining tickets by mail. Visit http://www.operadeparis.fr or call the special toll free number 08.92.89.90.90. Most operas and ballets are performed at one of the two following venues:
- Opera Bastille, 120 rue de Lyon 75012
- Palais Garnier, 8 rue Scribe 75009
Paris has venues large and small for its music concerts, whether classical or rock. Check the weekly and monthly publications for upcoming artists, concerts and ticket release dates. Also watch for annual music festivals that happen during the warmer months in many of the parks and open spaces of Paris. These are often free and a wonderful way to enjoy good music.
- Parc des Princes, http://www.leparcdesprinces.fr
- Stade de France, http://www.stadefrance.com
- Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, http://www.bercy.fr
- Salle Pleyel, http://www.sallepleyel.fr
- Palais de Congres, http://www.viparis.com
See the title section “Entertainment” for information on where to look for performances and how and when to purchase tickets to all of the listed venues.