French film blog: Why people don’t eat at the movies in France

If you're someone who likes to wolf down a full meal during a film, you might want to hold off if you ever go to the cinema in France, writes Khaila King from Lost in Frenchlation.

French film blog: Why people don't eat at the movies in France
Photo: AFP
Sinking your teeth into fiery buffalo wings or licking the cheese residue from beefy nachos while watching the latest blockbuster in cinemas is not novel to American culture.
When it comes to American movie theatre concession menu items, it’s go big or stay home. Since the early 1900s the American movie menu has evolved from popcorn and candy to heavier foods like nachos, pizza, hotdogs, wings and even burgers. 
The fun doesn't just end with meals — alcoholic beverages are also on the menu and are typically consumed right in front of the big screen. In popular chain theatres like AMC, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group, dining-in has become the norm. 
The UK concession menu also consists of a wide range of dinners, desserts and alcoholic beverages at popular cinema chains such as the Odeon. Similar to the American cultural norm, movie goers consume any drink or meal during the film instead of before or after it.


However, French movie etiquette does not operate in the same way for multiple reasons.
Unlike the US, the French cinema market is not dominated by large chains. France offers a variety of theatres that range from small and local to large mainstream chains such as UGC. Smaller theatres usually have a more niche and simple concession menu.
Although some smaller theatres still offer alcoholic beverages, it is still rare to see someone drinking a huge pint of beer while watching a film. It is a French cultural custom to drink alcohol before or after movies and generally not in large quantities.
Larger chain theatres in France such as UGC mirror popular American chains, in terms of offering heavier meals and alcoholic beverages. However, it is not common for French movie goers to eat and drink excessively during movies. The sound of chomping, slurping and rumbling bags can be distracting for other viewers and it is seen as a sign of respect to remain extremely quiet during films.
Additionally, French cinemas typically do not have the stubborn, “no outside food or drink rule,” like in the US which derived from Great Depression to keep theatres afloat. French movie goers are usually allowed to bring their own snacks and beverages into theatres, although the practice is still uncommon. 
In general, the French just eat less than the American norm. They follow the idea that there is a time and a place for everything and they value quality over quantity. 
While you might see an American eating at the movies, during class, on public transportation or even simply walking down the street, it is rare to see someone French doing the same. The French strictly eat in settings and during times solely designated for eating. The American lifestyle is less uniform and is known for its love of excess, which is why it is no surprise that the big screen and big meals go hand in hand in the US. 
French movie theatre etiquette reflects the general cultural practices of the French and the same can be said for Americans. So if you're visiting France hoping to see a good movie for the very first time, guzzling down some beer or going to town on a plate of nachos during the film might not be the best idea. However, a simple popcorn and water will do the trick. 
Lost in Frenchlation screen new French films at cinemas in Paris with English subtitles. To see their upcoming events, visit their website here.

Member comments

  1. Continuous eating in every imaginable venue: why so many Americans (even many younger ones) resemble oxen.

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French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.