If Paris is something of a haven for watching films, it also remains one of the greatest cities in which to debate them. And the movie-going experience doesn’t end with the closing credits, either, but in the neighbouring bar, several hours later. Cinemas often cater to this, providing an in-house bar or café; what’s more, thanks to the city’s wealth of eccentric independent venues, many of these retain a unique character. They run the gamut from kitsch film themes to sleek designer interiors, rickety bar stools and downy sofas. Yet they all have one thing in common: a clientele of passionate film buffs who you can expect to be debating auteur theory or the relative merits of Woody Allen at all times of day and/or night. And who knows? You may even bump into Catherine Deneuve (see Le Salon du Panthéon).
This hidden gem of a restaurant takes its name from the cinema opposite, and it’s where the film buffs descend after screenings to discuss whatever art-house flick they’ve just seen. Their heated debates, mingled with the classic rock constantly playing on the stereo, evoke the charged student culture of the late ’60.
6 Rue Champollion, 75005.
Le Salon de thé de La Pagode
This cinema’s delightful oriental garden becomes the venue for a romantic salon de thé, one of the hidden treasures of the city. The garden is absolutely enchanting, with towering bamboo and a jungle of tropical plants, tiny paths weaving between giant statues of tigers and dragons, the exterior of the pagoda decorated with swirling ceramics and intricate stained-glass windows.
57 bis Rue de Babylone, 7th.
Le Salon du Panthéon
When Maila Doukore took over the legendary Cinéma du Panthéon in the heart of the Left Bank, she decided not only to renovate it, but to add on a whole extra floor – a huge open-plan loft with an intimate outdoor terrace. The idea was to create a lounge bar and restaurant, but also a meeting place for lovers of what the French call Le Septième Art (the art of cinematography). And who better to ask to decorate the place than the ultimate Parisian silver screen icon, Catherine Deneuve. Today, it’s a favourite rendezvous for actors, directors, artists and musicians.
13 Rue Victor Cousin, 5th.
Opened in 1921 and once a temple of silent cinema, the Egyptian art deco Louxor fell on hard times after The Second World War. After a series of dodgy incarnations, it was left abandoned for 25 years. It re-opened as a cinema in April 2013, with a new brief to promote cultural, artistic and educational projects, and its nightlife hasn’t died outright.
170, Boulevard de Magenta, 10e, 75010.
Bistrot des Cinéastes
Enter the Cinéma des Cinéastes, a stalwart of the Parisian art-house scene, and take the grimy staircase that leads up from the main hall. You’ll end up in an improbably plush restaurant, which manages to marry a sleek grape bar aesthetic with a cute film theme. Sections of the menu are named after films: desserts, for example, are listed under the heading ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.
7 avenue de Clichy, 17e.
Restaurant du Lucernaire
Housed in a versatile cultural centre that comprises three theatres and three cinemas, this restaurant-bar is a trendier affair than the bog-standard neighbourhood cafés that surround it. You have a choice between two rooms: a grand old interior space that brings to mind the classic Montparnasse brasseries, and a more casual bar that open in the evenings only, which includes outdoor tables.
53, Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, 6e.
Café du Cinéma Studio 28
The Abbesses neighbourhood in Montmartre is one of the hippest parts of Paris, teeming with crowds of people and filled with bars. But wander up the quiet side street that leads to the iconic Windmill de la Galette and you arrive at one of the city’s most famous art-house cinemas, Studio 28. Walk past the ticket office and a long corridor brings you out into a hidden jewel, a magical covered interior courtyard that opens up every afternoon as a bar.
10 Rue Tholoze, 18th.
Mk2 Quai de Loire & Quai de Seine
Inside the unusual Quai de Loire branch of the Mk2 empire, the screens sit alongside an unexpected American deli and a cheap ’n’ cheerful diner and coffee shop. Unless you’re a big fan of sub-standard hot dogs and absurdly elaborate caffeine-based milkshakes, don’t come here for the menu, but rather for the wonderful outdoor terrace by the water.
7, quai de Loire, 75019.
Need to know
Air France flies direct to Paris from Dhs3,965 return.