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

    Bastille | Film

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

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  • 2. Le Louxor

    Montmartre | Film

    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...Read More

  • 3. Cinéma des Cinéastes

    Montmartre | Film

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

  • 4. La Géode

    Eastern Paris | Film

    It's hard to miss La Géode—a steel globe with a 118-foot diameter in Parc de La Villette. The theater screens wide-angle Omnimax films—including...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Le Desperado

    Latin Quarter | Film

    You can watch version originale American classics and cult films for €8 on Le Desperado's two screens. ...Read More

  • 7. Le Forum des Images

    Louvre | Film

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

  • 8. MK2 Bibliothèque

    Eastern Paris | Film

    This slick, 20- salle cineplex in the shadow of Mitterrand's National Library has trademark scarlet-red chairs—they fit two people without...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 | Film

    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 annual festival...Read More

  • 11. UGC Ciné-Cité Bercy

    Bastille | Film

    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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