Fun fact: Parisians honestly do love American movies. Not so fun fact: Parisians are much better at reading subtitles than America.
When Paris weather is gloomy, grey, rainy or cold, there are fewer better things to do than head to the cinema. Parisians are huge fans of going to the movies, even when they have to watch them in English with French subtitles. Most of them, who have grown up with it, are used to the constant back-and-forth exercise of reading the translations and going back to the film. Otherwise, there are a handful of theaters that play dubbed versions, although many French people prefer the original version of the films because they want to hear the actors’ real voices.
There is no shortage of movie theaters in the capital, but they can sometimes be confusing for those who aren’t familiar with the VF/VO system, and they are not all created equal.
Allocine.fr is one of the most reliable websites for finding movie times, theaters and reviews for films that are out or soon-to-be released. It’s kind of like the equivalent of Fandango for the US. Even those with shoddy french should be able to navigate the site. Some key phrases to remember :
- Films de la semaine : Films of the week
- Films toujours à l’affiche : Now Playing
- Films prochainement au cinéma : Coming Soon
- Rechercher une salle de cinéma : Find a theater (This is where you type in information to find movie times for a theater near you. You can type the city, the zip code of the arrondissement or the name of the theater if you already know it)
- VO : Original version (means the film is showed in its language of origin)
- VF: French version (means the film is dubbed in French)
Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find the newest, most popular films out, foreign films with subtitles (think German, Italian, Spanish, etc.), smaller Indie productions or timeless classics re-released. Our brief theater list should help you get started in finding the right one for you. When you go to the cinema you can take red flowers with you.
Best for that All-American-like movie theater experience
UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles : 7 Place de la Rotonde 75001, Located in the multilevel Les Halles shopping complex
- Pros : Larger screening rooms with stadium seating, comfy chairs, wide selection of movies (usually the current blockbusters out), offers nonstop showings from early morning to late night, all English-language films are available in VO, handicap-accessible
- Cons : More expensive, crowded
- Prices : Under 18, Matinée = 6.90€; Students = 7.90€; Regular = 11.20€
- Runners-up : Le Grand Rex (mostly VF) , UGC Ciné Cité Bercy, MK2 Bibliothèque, Gaumont Champs-Elysées Marignan, Gaumont Parnasse
Best for older films or retrospectives
Filmothèque du Quartier Latin : 9 rue Champollion 75005, Centrally located in the Latin Quarter near Jardin du Luxembourg, Saint Michel, Panthéon and the Sorbonne
- Pros : Shows older American classics (think Sabrina — the original, Taxi Driver, Mulholland Drive, etc.), in addition to French ones (François Truffaut’s work is currently highlighted), two cozy screening rooms with different ambiances under the names ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and ‘Audrey Hepburn’, films are often re-edited and restored for better quality, comfy plush chairs, smaller and more intimate, less expensive
- Cons : Not handicap-accessible, French films do not have English subtitles
- Prices : Under 20 = 4€; Students = 7€; Regular = 9€; Seniors = 7€
- Runners-up : Action Christine, La Cinémathèque Française, Le Champo – Espace Jacques Tati
Best for independent films and arthouse cinema events
Cinéma Studio 28 : 10 rue Tholoze 75018, Located in the hip Abbesses neighborhood of Montmartre
- Pros : Shows pre-screenings of new, popular independent films, occasional actor or director appearances with talks, Q&A, discreet location (‘hidden gem’), old-school cinema feel with a romantic covered interior courtyard accented with a chandelier, bamboo walls and murals of famous cinematic figures, cozy connected salon de thé/bar/café for pre- or post-film refreshment, including wine, champagne, savory tarts, cakes or hot beverages, very ‘local’ atmosphere
- Cons : Not handicap-accessible, No debit/credit cards accepted
- Prices : Children = 6€ (Wed/Sat from 3 to 5 pm); Students, seniors or child guardians = 7.50€; Full-price = 9€
- Runners-up : Le Reflet Médecis, La Pagode, Le Cinéma du Panthéon, Le Cinéma des Cinéastes,