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CULTURE

Ten must-visit places in the Paris theatre district

A hard to define but thriving part of Paris is becoming more and more popular with visitors and foreign residents in the City of Light. Here are 10 places in the French capital's so-called theatre district that are well worth a visit.

Ten must-visit places in the Paris theatre district
Photo: Theatre in Paris
One of the most overlooked, but best sources of entertainment for expats and tourists alike in Paris is the city's booming theatre scene. 
 
While the French capital's so-called theatre district isn't a formally defined area, it extends all the way from Opéra up to the République Metro station. 
 
Indeed it covers parts of the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th arrondissements. Here Theatre In Paris, which has opened up the theatre scene to non-French speakers by providing subtitles for shows, spell out 10 places in the district that are really worth a visit.
 
Harry’s New York Bar

(AFP)

Before catching a show, stop at this American style bistro quite literally from New York: the interior of the Manhattan bar was packed up and shipped over to the City of Light in the early 1900s.

As for its clientèle over the years, you might find yourself in the very seat where Coco Chanel or even Ernest Hemingway once relaxed. If you’re looking for ambiance, it’s ideal; the perfect ‘at home’ feeling for American expats, and an unmistakable sense of art and history à la Midnight in Paris. Do yourself a favour and try the Pimm’s Royal, you won’t regret it.

Square and Théâtre Edouard VII

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Built in honour of English King Edward the 7th, famous for his love for Paris (and French women), this venue has seen them all: Orson Welles, Eartha Kitt, Picasso, even Meryl Streep… it was built to celebrate Anglo-Franco friendship and showcase “Anglo-Saxon” cinema and theatre. It makes sense then, that English speakers can book shows here with English subtitles through www.theatreinparis.com. “Peacemaker” King Edward VII would be proud!

Théâtre Mogador 

(AFP)

If you’re an architecture buff, this is a must-see of the 9th arrondissement. Currently hosting Grease the Musical with English Subtitles this venue is slightly more modern, but just as jaw-dropping as some of the city's older buildings. Prestigious English ‘theatre architect’ Bertie Crewe designed this venue, along with numerous other breathtaking theatres all over Europe such as the Hoxton Hall, the Royal Hippodrome, the London Opera House (or the Stoll Theatre), and so many more. The Théâtre Mogador has always been dedicated to grandiose musical shows, such as Cats, Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables.

Musée du Parfum Fragonard

(Photo: (Nico Paix/Flickr)

In a Napoleon III style boutique hotel designed by a student of Charles Garnier, who designed the Opera Garnier, is a luxurious perfume museum, featuring the scents of the Fragonard Perfume House.

For those who’ve hit just about every museum in Paris, this is a sweet alternative dedicated to pleasing two of the five senses, with its splendid decor and fragrances. The Perfume Museum will tell you how natural scents are mixed with fats and other substances to create the perfumes we wear today, and displays striking Lalique and Schiaparelli bottles, as well as Ancient Egyptian ointment flasks and porcelain scent bottles.

Théâtre Trévise 

This is a venue where you’ll find a flock of young French artists and theatre lovers (and probably hipsters). The Théâtre Trévise is a late 19th century building in Paris’ 9th arrondissement which showcases French humorists and young talent. There’s a subtitled show now playing called I Love Piaf, which stars the Voice France star Karoline Rose, who embodies the French icon in a modern way. 

Musée de la vie Romantique

(Photo: (Ottavi Alain/Flickr)

An ideal blend of romance and culture: this museum tucked away in the 9th arrondissement of Paris is dedicated to arts. It has played host to the works of Chopin, Rousseau and Delacroix and it comes with a romantic, picturesque garden. Originally owned by Ary Scheffer, a prominent Dutch painter in the early 1800s who was close to King Louis Philippe I, the museum holds numerous collections from the romantic era, as well as memorabilia of novelist and memoirist George Sand, known for her literary prowess, her romantic side, and her affairs with Chopin and Musset.

Théâtre des Variétés

(Photo: DotConferences/Flickr)

A theatre that owes its entire existence to one very audacious woman: Royal Theatre Director Mademoiselle Montasier, or Marguerite Bruno. Her auspicious troupe of actors was dismissed from the Palais Royal’s theatre (at the time called Les Variétés), supposedly in part due to a large debt she had acquired.
 
She obtained an audience, luckily, with Napoleon III himself, who rectified the situation, putting her troupe back in business and giving her a theatre of her own: today’s Théâtre des Variétés. The venue gained some fame in 1880 thanks to  Émile Zola's book “Nana”. Indeed, during the first few chapters of the book, the main character's rise to fame occurs in the Théâtre des Variétés. 

Théâtre Splendid

(AFP)

A lush theatre in the 10th arrondissement,  where the highest paid female performer of the Belle Epoque, Minstinguett, got her big break. The Théâtre Splendid was formerly a café théâtre.

Maison Souquet:

Probably the most risqué hotel in the City of Lights, the Maison Souquet is a former Belle Epoque Brothel, and was restored into this original boutique hotel whose sexy side is accentuated with sensual art, a private bar, and mood lighting to get anyone feeling in the mood…

Théâtre de la Porte St Martin: 

This venue marks the end of the Paris entertainment district and was commissioned by Queen Marie Antoinette herself. It was also built in just two short months. Molière’s Tartuffe will soon be playing here, among many other French shows. (source)

While visitors to Paris might previously have declined a visit to a Parisian theatre in the past, the revolutionary surtitling at various venues in Paris’ entertainment district is changing that.

More and more shows with Theatre in Paris are being surtitled, and therefore made accessible to Anglophone art lovers visiting or living in the City of Light.

For more information visit Theatre in Paris.

The Paris theatre scene - now open for expats too

 

 

 

MONEY

Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE

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