The performing arts scene in Paris runs the gamut from highbrow to lowbrow, cheap (or even free) to break-the-bank expensive. Venues are indoors and outdoors, opulent or spartan, and dress codes vary accordingly. Regardless of the performance you choose, it's probably unlike anything you've seen before. Parisians have an audacious sense of artistic adventure and a stunning eye for scene and staging. An added bonus in this city of classic beauty is that many of the venues themselves—from the opulent interiors of the Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Royal de Versailles to the Art Deco splendor of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées—are a feast for the eyes.

One thing that sets Paris apart in the arts world is the active participation of the Ministry of Culture, which sponsors numerous concert halls and theaters, like the Comédie Française, that tend to present less commercial, though artistically captivating, productions. Other venues with broader appeal are known for sold-out shows and decade-long runs.

Most performances are in French, although you can find English theater productions. English-language movies are often presented undubbed, with subtitles. Of course, you don't need to speak the language to enjoy opera, classical music, dance, or the circus.

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  • 1. Cinémathèque Française


    This mecca for cinephiles brought up on Federico Fellini, Igmar Bergman, and Alain Resnais is known for its superb, and exhaustive, retrospectives of world cinema...Read More

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  • 2. Le Grand Rex

    Grands Boulevards

    Since it opened in 1932, the Grand Rex—a designated historic landmark—has been Europe's largest cinema, with 2,800 seats in its main auditorium and Paris's largest...Read More

  • 3. Le Louxor


    First opened in 1921, Le Louxor has since been returned to its original Egyptian-themed splendor. Now the city's grandest cinema, this Art Deco beauty is...Read More

  • 4. Cinéma des Cinéastes


    Catch previews of feature films, as well as documentaries, shorts, children's movies, and rarely shown flicks at Cinéma des Cinéastes. Near the Montmartre neighborhood, it's...Read More

  • 5. La Géode

    La Villette

    It's hard to miss La Géode—a giant steel globe in Parc de La Villette. The theater screens wide-angle Omnimax films—including kid-friendly documentaries—on a gigantic spherical...Read More

  • 6. Le Balzac

    Champs-Élysées | Film

    This theater often presents directors' talks before film screenings and features live music for silent classics. Every Saturday night, in partnership...Read More

  • 7. Le Forum des Images


    The Forum organizes thematic viewings in five state-of-the-art screening rooms, often presenting discussions with directors or film experts beforehand. Archival films and videos, workshops, and...Read More

  • 8. Les Écoles Cinéma Club

    Latin Quarter

    Formerly Le Desperado, then Les Écoles 21, the refurbished Les Écoles Cinéma Club continues the tradition of presenting version originale American classics and cult films...Read More

  • 9. Parc de La Villette

    Eastern Paris | Film

    In July and August, Parc de La Villette shows free open-air movies. Most people pack a picnic; you can also rent deck chairs and blankets for...Read More

  • 10. Saint-André des Arts

    Latin Quarter

    One of a number of popular cinemas near the Sorbonne, Saint-André des Arts is also one of the best cinemas in Paris. It hosts an...Read More

  • 11. UGC Ciné-Cité Bercy


    This mammoth 18-screen complex is in the Bercy Village shopping area. For sound and seating, it's one of the best....Read More

  • 12. La Pagode

    Eiffel Tower | Film

    Where else but Paris would you find movies shown in an antique pagoda? A Far Eastern fantasy, La Pagode was built in 1896 as a ballroom for...Read More

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