Theatre in Paris' Guide to Hidden Paris Gems

  • 21, Mar 2018
  • Theatre in Paris exclusives
  • Jessica Gilligan


Our favorite little hidden historical gems in the City of Lights

One of the best kept secrets of Paris, hidden from unaware visitors, is its theatre scene rivaling that of Broadway and the West End. Theatre in Paris raises the curtain on French theatre for the rest of the world. We do this by subtitling (or surtitling)French theatre for non French speakers visiting Paris. For more on that, check out our home page. For hidden Paris, read on!
In the true spirit of spilling Paris' secrets just for curious travelers, our diverse team of local Parisians and native English speakers living in France have decided to put together this list of our favourite little hidden gems we’ve discovered in the City of Lights. Enjoy!



Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s favourite venue: the historical Ranelagh

When you step into the auditorium of the Théâtre du Ranelagh, you’ll be  wowed by the ornate carved oak panelling adorning the orchestra and balconies, as well as the intricately decorated ceiling. The theatre, which offers subtitled French classics like Victor Hugo’s Ruy Blas and Cyrano de Bergerac, was built on an old château owned by an amateur playwright who loved to put on swanky parties. In the late 1700s, he welcomed artists and philosophers alike, such as Voltaire (famous author of Candide and the Ingénu), Rameau (the most significant French composer of the 18th century), and Rousseau (famous Genevan philosopher who influenced the French Enlightenment). According to famous historian Marmontel, the soirées here were so fantastic, with the highest nobility and the most beautiful Parisian women, that they made up for the  mediocre entertainment. Rest assured, the subtitled French classics there today are top notch! Explore more history of the Ranelagh Theater - currently playing: Cyrano de Bergerac and The Miser
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Dinner and a secret view in a hidden corner of the posh 16th arrondissement: Maison de la radio

Just a few minute’s walk from the Théâtre le Ranelagh is the Maison de la Radio France. Overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower is Radio Eat on the first floor: it’s quiet and classy, hidden in plain sight, has an extraordinary view, and is perfectly located for dinner before or after a famous French show at the Théâtre du Ranelagh with Theatre in Paris. What’s not to love? According to one Tripadvisor reviewer, it’s like eating in a “posh 1970s airport lounge”.
Phone number: +33 1 47 20 00 29
Address: 116 Avenue du Président Kennedy, 75016 Paris



From King Edward to Orson Welles; Picasso to Eartha Kitt: the theatre of the most influential people of the 1900s

Originally a cinéma, this theatre was built for King Edward the 7th to celebrate sharing English and French culture.Therefore, many anglophone films and plays were put on here. Today, modern French dramas and comedies are subtitled in English, such as Hello my name is, a hilarious modern comedy and returning Parisian favorite.

Once you enter into the salle, you’ll see that you’re  in a truly one-of-a-kind space. Typical French theatres are rectangular with open space from floor to ceiling and balconies stacked one on top of the other along the edges, but the Théâtre Edouard VII is in the traditional English-style; it's what the French like to call a "théâtre à l’anglaise" with its balconies extending directly over the orchestra seating. Orson Welles performed in this theatre for two months in 1950, starring in a play called “The Lobster”. Rumour has it that his ghost haunts the halls of this venue to this very day!  Other notable performers and visitors to this venue include Pablo Picasso, Eartha Kitt, and even Meryl Streep! 

The Théâtre Edouard VII is in the 9th arrondissement , a breathtaking, posh Parisian district that was kept vibrant and by the time and money spent there by Edward the 7th in various théâtres, cafés, and even a few “maisons closes” in the late 1800s.
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A drink with Hemingway : Harry’s New York Bar

Just around the corner from the Théâtre Edouard VII is Harry’s New York Bar, yet another hub of influential artists and intellectuals of the past. The bar is located at 5, Rue Daunou, between the Avenue de l'Opéra and the Rue de la Paix. The famous American jockey Ted Sloan bought the bar in 1911, and hoped to use his fame to attract other up and coming American expatriates in Paris. The bar only became famous, though, after the barman Harry bought it in the 1950s. Celebrities of the time like Earnest Hemingway, Coco Chanel and Sinclair Lewis were known to frequent this typical New York Style hot spot. A cocktail in this swanky bar before or after a show with Theatre in Paris at the Théâtre Edouard VII is sure to be star-studded Parisian night out of your dreams! 
Phone number: +33 1 42 61 71 14
Address: 5 Rue Daunou, 75002 Paris



A musical night with Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf, the voice of France. The next best thing to meeting the actual superstar songstress who left us far too early (1916-1953)  is this intimate concert-musical, which tells her risqué life story in between powerful ballads, sung by rock star from The Voice Karoline Rose. This show is subtitled by yours truly, and is such a great show that some of our Anglophone team members have even seen it three times! One thing’s for sure: you’ll leave not only understanding what Piaf’s songs were all about, but also with her timeless tunes stuck in your head for days, for better or for worse. This hit musical has been performed at the Théâtre Trévise and the Théâtre Lucernaire in Paris, stay tuned for its triumphant return to the City of Lights!



From Josephine Baker to Johnny Hallyday, David Bowie to the Beatles, the Olympia de Paris

This famed concert hall was created by the co-founders of the Moulin Rouge itself. While it’s not home to French shows with English subtitles, it was, however, stage to the most famous artists of the 20th Century, including Edith Piaf and Yves Montand (known lover to Marilyn Monroe), the recently late Johnny Hallyday, Josephine Baker, and even the Beatles and David Bowie! More recently, performers such as Lana Del Rey, the Arctic Monkeys, Nora Jones, James Brown (just to name a few) have graced the stage of this spectacular venue.
Address: 28 Boulevard des Capucines, 75009 Paris



The funniest woman in Paris: Oh My God, She’s Parisian

After tragic life changing events made her realize life was too short for legal jargon, posh as ever Parisienne Julie Collas changed paths to become Paris' only one-woman show performer. This short and sweet play is in English, and playing in an intimate venue located near République. 

In one hour, a day-in-the-frenzied-life of a Parisienne will have you recognizing many familiar faces, from the French president himself to the elusive waiter, a random rude Parisian and that person on the Paris subway or the "métro" that just makes you scratch your head. The City of Lights will no longer hold any mysteries after Julie is done revealing her comings and goings in this wonderfully chaotic Paris show.

Want to know how it works at Theatre in Paris? Drop us a line or check out our how it works page. Don’t forget to share this article and check out our shows! In the photo, left to right: Romain, Carl, and Christophe, our Parisian co-founders and theatre buffs!