Paris Under the Spotlights

This week, Accent Paris Programs Coordinator Audrey Casabielhe writes about Paris’ unique place in cinematic history, from the earliest silent films to the major blockbusters of today.

Paris is synonymous with Beauty and History. Is it also synonymous with Cinema? Yes! The birthplace of cinema itself happened in Paris when the Lumière brothers introduced their cinématographe to the world. Since then, Paris has appeared in more movies than any other city.

But there are other aspects that makes Paris a city in love with the silver screen.

First, the richness and multiplicity of the movie theaters. Paris has a total of 400 screens, with a hundred of them considered alternative and Arthouse cinemas. Every week, 450-500 movies are screened. Parisians love cinema, and each year, 27 million of them go to watch what the city has to offer in the movie theaters. The 5th and the 6th districts alone have 70 screens available!

The movie theaters themselves show how rich cinema culture is in the city of lights. Paris has 5 movie theaters dating back to the start of the 20th century that are still operating today! The Espace Michel on Place Saint Michel opened in 1911, and, the oldest of them all, the Cinema of the Pantheon, opened in 1907.

You can also enjoy movie nights at the Louxor; a theater decorated like an Egyptian temple, dating back to the 1920s or the Grand Rex which was built in the 1930s to resemble a miniature version of Radio City Music Hall in New York.

In 2002, the city of Paris created a governmental department called “Mission Cinéma.” This department is in charge of giving permission to shoot films in the city, supporting the city’s Art houses and film festivals (20 per year), and organizing short film competitions. Since its creation, the number of filmings in the City of Lights has doubled, reaching five thousand per year. They also have created a festival for young children as part of their mission to educate called Mon Premier Festival (My First Festival).

So many streets remind us of a movie we have seen, such as: Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, where one of the scenes takes place on the stairs of the church Saint Etienne du Mont; Wonder Woman, where the title character is seen working under the pyramid of the Louvre; Charade, where Audrey Hepburn takes a walk along the Seine; or An American in Paris, which reproduces the Quai Montebello.

Ever-present in literature, Paris also exists through the big and small screens, where it continues to enrich our imagination.

~ Audrey Casabielhe, Accent Paris

Did this post inspire you to discover the magic of Parisian cinema for yourself? Research your study abroad options with Accent.