Situated on a prominent site at the corner of Boulevard Magenta and Boulevard Barbès in the 10th arrondissement, local residents in this part of the French capital are justifiably proud of such a beacon of cultural importance; as potent a symbol of regeneration as any in this area. Barbès is a quarter has been undergoing changes over the past decade or so that are slowly re-gentrifying it and causing it to look inwards at itself and reveal the treasures that it contains.
The uncovering of this particular treasure came at a cost an estimated €25,000,000 to the City of Paris under the guidance of its popular left-wing mayor Bertrand Delanoë. Delanoë duly arrived yesterday for the official re-opening ceremony where select members of the media were invited to look around the three-screen neo-Egyptian cinema. The cinema is much more than a symbol of France and Paris’ role in the early development of the art of cinema; it’s a veritable temple of cinematic splendour, adorned with Pharaohs’ heads, hieroglyphics, Egyptian masts, Art déco bar and its balcony with a view of Sacré-Cœur Cathedral.After opening in 1921, the cinema closed its doors in 1983 and was turned into a night-club. The City Council bought the building from Fabien Ouaki of the Tati retail chain in 2003. After protracted debate on the future of the iconic building, the restoration work finally began three years ago. Today, it’s Paris oldest (and surely its most extraordinary) cinema.
The re-opening of the Louxor seems to have brought all sides of France’s political divide together in a collective Bravo! in this district that many describe as a multi-cultural “world village” that straddles the rich-poor divide, as well as three different arrondissements.“We have a 94-year-old lady coming for the inauguration,” says the restoration works foreman Emmanuel Papillon. “She knew the Louxur in the prime of its youth in the 1920s, before the demolition of the Egyptian décor that was replaced by neo-Grecian décor in the 1930s. Much of the original, he adds, has been destroyed and the majority of the interior is actually new, but you’d never know it by looking around.
There won’t be any trailers before each showing and there will be no popcorn, but patrons will have a programme on old-fashioned paper and the Louxor promises a diverse range of films, with early premiers, cinema workshops, children’s seances, concerts and local cine-clubs.
Definitely a new site worth seeing if you visit Paris.