Paris and the Canvas of Life

This week’s post, the first of two discussing the many unusual movie theaters of Paris, comes from Programs Coordinator and Academic Liaison Adrien Fropos at our ACCENT Paris Study Center.

“Hey, why don’t we go get a canvas?” is a question you may someday be asked if you ever find yourself in France. While to a native French speaker this phrase would make perfect sense,  someone less experienced with the language might be completely puzzled. What could it mean? Could it be referencing painting, or weaving, or maybe even sailing?

While all very sensible guesses, “Se faire une toile” is actually a common expression in French that means “going to the movies” (the “toile” refers to the screen upon which the movie is projected, the canvas of cinema, if you will). Movie-going is a popular pastime among Parisians, and for good reason: it is less expensive than going to the opera or the theater, the rooms are air-conditioned (which is a quite a rare thing in France, especially in Paris!), and one is almost always guaranteed to have a good time.

Paris boasts 85 movie theaters within the city, 404 movie screens, and over 75,000 seats. Among these movie theaters, most are rather modern, offering movies in 2D or 3D, playing foreign films in their original language with French subtitles, or alternatively, dubbed in French.  There are also, however, a number of highly unique theaters to be found in Paris, suitable for those who are seeking a more rarefied movie-going experience.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most unusual places to see movies in Paris:

Le Louxor
This cinema is located in the 10th arrondissement. Founded in 1921, the theater was built in a stunning Egyptian Revivalist architectural style. The building has belouxor-1en through many iterations, ceasing operations as a cinema in the early 1980s, functioning as a nightclub until 1988 when the doors were finally shuttered. The building was later deemed a national heritage site, undergoing a massive renovation and restoration, reopening as a fully functioning cinema in 2013.


la-villetteCinéma en Plein Air à la Villette
The La Villette park is the third-largest park in Paris and plays host every year to a great free outdoor movie festival. Up to 1,000 movie-lovers can relax while sitting comfortably on deck chairs, enjoying a wide selection of movies, both French and foreign.


MK2 Bibliothèque
This recently built multiplex located in the 14th arrondissement (near the François Mitterrand public library) is mostly sought after by cinephiles looking for a comfortable venue to attend with their ‘special someone’. The MK2 Bibliothèque is peculiarly equipped with “love seats,” where the armrest can be folded into the seat in order to allow couples to lie in each other’s embrace while watching the latest romantic (or scary!) movie.


The vast array of movie theaters in Paris assures that moviegoers of all kinds will be sure to find what they are looking for. Regardless of the kinds of movies you enjoy (action, fantasy, adventure, romantic, or classic, to name but a few), whether you’re a fan of French New Wave, Italian Neorealism, or Film Noir, Paris will always be able to satisfy your thirst for novel cinematic experiences by offering out-of-the-ordinary venues, specializing in a wide variety of films.

If you are still hesitant about studying abroad, consider this: in the great movie that is life, why would you patiently sit aside and watch other people in the spotlight, when you could have the lead role and follow your own storyline?

Silence! Moteur! Action!


~Adrien Fropos, ACCENT Paris

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