57 Bis Rue de Babylone,
Paris 75007

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La Pagode

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the southwest of the city centre. Certainly one of the original monuments to see in Paris, La Pagode was erected in 1896 to the designs of architect Alexandre Marcel. It was built by the manager of the department store Bon March for his wife on the land next to their house, a real pagoda in a lavish Japanese style used as a ballroom. But they quickly divorced and the pagoda was hired for events.

It turned to a 400 seat movie house in 1930. A projection booth was built at the rear side and beautiful glass windows were darkened by simple wood panels and additional building constructed on a part of the garden was used as the lobby.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, La Pagode was a simple district movie house showing second run movies. Every Thursday, I remember the children’s matinee with Laurel and Hardy movies and cartoons.

At the beginning of the 1970’s, it was turned to an art movie theatre but this lovely design inside and outside is very old fashioned with a dusty smell.

But what future for this theatre at the beginnig of the multiplex and lost in a very quiet district? The answer came from an independent French producer who built a new screen underground (180 seats). The wall of the garden was destroyed in order to see the building and the garden from the street, and a new modern lobby was erected.

With a clever first run art movie programming and a brillant restoration of the main auditorium, which now seats 212, the result was a huge success.

In the 1990’s the difficulty to run two screens was a major problem. Gaumont decided to quit and a new owner of the building intended to open a restaurant, but the Ministry of Culture decided to upgrade the Landmark status of the building together with its garden, with the obligation for it to remain a cinema.

After two years dark again La Pagode reopened, the towers of the roof covered with plastic sheets to avoid leaks and scaffolding in the main auditorium to hold the ceiling. Major works of renovation are needed but the future is more secure and I hope this renovation will be possible. This is one of the more interesting movie theatres in Paris.

Contributed by Xavier Delamare

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 15, 2007 at 4:34 am

Here are two vintage images of the auditorium, including one of a portion of the awe-inspiring ceiling. The third link is a night view of the building’s exterior:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 15, 2007 at 5:01 am

The seating capacity in the original auditorium is 211. As stated in the opening text above, the newer basement screen seats 180.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 21, 2008 at 11:05 am

Here are new direct links to previously posted images:
View link
View link

Gooper on June 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I always thought it was an actual Shinto temple because any advertisement of what it was was very low key. It is certainly an oddball as far as its neighbors are concerned, but it does not stand out. You have to look for it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Warren’s links are dead, but I’ve found this weblog post which begins with four photos of La Pagode and its garden.

This web page has photos of theaters around the world taken from the book Architectures de Cinémas, by Francis Lacloche, and includes a more expansive view of the auditorium of La Pagode (found a bit less than halfway down the page.)

This web page has a general view of the theater’s unobtrusive entrance. Clicking the “view all images” link reveals only one more photo, depicting the garden.

Also, this article about Paris cinemas from The Guardian begins with an evocative nocturnal photo of La Pagode’s vertical sign.

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