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CULTURE

Paris cinema named as world’s most-visited

A Paris cinema has been named as the world's most frequented, with an astonishing 2.2 million visitors in 2022.

Paris cinema named as world's most-visited
Head of UGC, Brigitte Maccioni, poses at the cinema complex UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, in 2021 (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

Climbing ahead of even Burbank in Los Angeles and the Showcase Bluewater in London, Paris’ UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles was rated the most visited cinema in the world, according to a ranking by Comscore for 2023.

Located in the heart of Paris –  the city with the most movie theatres in the world – UGC des Halles is found in the city’s 1st arrondisement, at the Chatelet-Les Halles shopping mall, where many of the city’s Metro and suburban train lines (RERs) intersect.

UGC des Halles is only one of 2,000 French movie theatres to remain open all day – from 9am until midnight.

It boasts 27 screens and 3,820 seats – a record in Europe, according to Les Echos – and, on average, the theatre also allows films to remain in the programming longer than they might in other cinemas. 

However, the success of UGC des Halles is also a large testament to the return of the cinema after the industry was heavily impacted by the pandemic.

READ MORE: Six French films with English subtitles that you don’t want to miss in January

“The public has found its way back to theatres,” Eric Marti, the head of Comscore France, said in a statement following the ranking. “[The public] has renewed its confidence in this cinema, located in the heart of Paris.”

Marti also referenced the fact that the cinema has “bet on a diversified programme,” since 1995, which according to Brigitte Maccioni, the head of UGC, has been the “success of UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles.”

“[It] demonstrates the relevance of the model used by UGC cinemas, which promotes all types of cinema, from American blockbusters to arthouse films,” Maccioni said in a press release on Wednesday.

READ MORE: How Paris cinemas are surviving

Across France, the cinema has gradually begun to regain its audience. In 2022, cinema attendance rose to 152 million, an increase of 59.2 percent when compared with 2021. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go, with the 2022 attendance numbers still 26.9 percent lower than the pre-Covid period, according to Les Echos. 

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PARIS

‘Drunks, drug-dealers and pickpockets’ – French police crackdown at Paris Gare du Nord

Police in the capital are planning a massive operation to clean up Paris' chaotic and grotty Gare du Nord station - described by the local police commander as "full of drunks, crack dealers and pickpockets".

'Drunks, drug-dealers and pickpockets' - French police crackdown at Paris Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord serves not only as one of the major rail hubs for the capital, but also the arrival point for the Eurostar and shuttles from Paris’ two main airports – meaning that it is often the first part of the city that tourists see.

And it doesn’t give a good impression – the station is dark, confusingly laid out and its infrastructure is crumbling, so it’s far from uncommon to see buckets placed to catch water from the leaking rook.

But it’s the security aspect that worries the police – as the station has also become a hotspot for pickpockets, unlicensed taxi drivers, illegal street vendors and drug dealers, as well as a hangout for homeless people, many of whom have mental health problems.

Although the biggest security problem is undoubtedly pickpocketing – especially of confused, newly arrived tourists – there are occasionally more serious incidents, such as the attack on January 11th when a man randomly assaulted seven members of the public with a sharpened chisel.

A year previously, another knife-wielding man, later revealed to be homeless and with mental health problems who frequented the station, was shot by police.

Police presence in the station has now been massively stepped up, with dozens of officers patrolling at all hours of the day and night, in addition to the soldiers from Operation Sentinelle who make regular patrols of Gare du Nord (and other sites that have the potential to be terror attack targets).

The commander of the unit based at Gare du Nord told Le Parisien: “Unlicensed cigarette sellers, crack cocaine dealers, pickpocketing, drunk people – these are all problems that characterise Gare du Nord.

However, she added that things have improved in recent years, saying: “There is no longer a war between rival gangs, who used to come here regularly to fight in front of the [now-defunct] Foot Locker store. Many new stores have moved in. The light is soothing. It’s not an anxiety-provoking place at all.”

The station – through which 700,000 people pass every day – has long been a sore point for city authorities, who are well aware of the poor impression it gives to new arrivals.

However in 2021, an ambitious plan to completely redevelop it and add a huge new shopping mall was rejected. Instead, it was decided to simply give the existing station a revamp in time for the 2024 Olympics. 

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