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Theatres and cinemas in the suburbs

Discover the best theatres and cinemas that lie beyond the Périphérique

© Cyrille Weiner

Like its clubbing and gallery scenes, Paris’s arts and performance circuits stretch far beyond the Boulevard Périphérique, as the selection of cutting-edge theatres and legendary cinemas below hopefully demonstrates. For a great evening out away from the bustle of the centre, we recommend one of these trendy suburban spots.

The best theatres and cinemas in the suburbs

Théâtre Jean Vilar

Created in the 1970s in grey, suburban Vitry-sur-Seine, the Théâtre Jean Vilar isn’t pretty.  But what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for ten-fold on the stage, with top-class, wide-ranging programmes of contemporary dance, classical music, theatre, stand-up comedy and pop concerts - so you don’t necessarily need to speak French, to enjoy a night out or a matinee performance here...

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Théâtre Gérard Philipe

This town hall has quite a history. It was built in the early 1900s when it was used for a variety of purposes – prize-givings, political meetings and dances, as well as theatre productions. Jean Vilar and his troupe did a stint here in the 40s, albeit without much success. In 1960 the theatre was christened Gerard Philipe after the famous French comedian who’d passed away the year before...

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Centre National de la Danse

This centre first opened its door in 2004, with the mission to bridge the divide between stage and spectator. It invites audiences to its quarterly 'Grandes leçons de danse', contemporary dance master classes. It also offers an expertly curated selection of performances presented in the studios, exhibitions, and a phenomenal archive of films and choreographic material...

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North of the centre

Théâtre de Gennevilliers

Trying to find the Théâtre de Gennevilliers? Just follow the arrows. Dreamed up by conceptual artist Daniel Buren, these red and white panels will lead you from the metro station all the way to the venue's front door. They're a suitably playful preview of the torrent of creative activity that awaits you inside: the centre's 'contemporary art' remit takes in everything from cutting-edge theatre and opera (think Oscar Bianchi and Joël Pommerat) to fine art, cinema, literature and even philosophy seminars...

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Théâtre des Quartiers d'Ivry

Set in Paris’ Ivry suburb, the Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry is one of Greater Paris’ most exciting theatres, covering everything from works by new authors, to Goldoni, Moliere and Chekhov. There’s also an emphasis on plays by international theatre troupes – especially those from the Middle East and South America, with an excellent spring festival (March to April) dedicated to non-French works. The theatre is split between three buildings...

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Théâtre 71

As the name suggests, the Théâtre 71 opened its doors in 1971 in Paris's southern suburbs, though it had to wait another two decades before receiving government endorsement as a forum for contemporary performance arts. It hasn't let up since, filling its programme with some of the most innovative and downright bonkers events this side of the Périphérique. A calendar highlight is the Jazzamalak jazz season, which runs throughout most of the year...

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Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil

Housed in a heavy steel and concrete edifice on the site of the old Théâtre des Jeunes Spectateurs, the no less literally named Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil widens the remit of its predecessor with a programme that includes theatre, music and dance for all ages. Recent shows have tackled such heavyweight themes as generational conflict, punk music and gender identity. The theatre combines this with a strong pedagogic thrust...

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Cinéma Le Trianon

Worth the trip to its far-flung location in the suburb of Noisy-le-Sec, Le Trianon (not to be confused with the ritzy concert venue in Rochechouart) is that rare thing: a cinema that puts on a passionately curated programme of arthouse and world films, and lets you watch them for pittance (€6 for a full-price ticket, down to as little as €3.50 for special screenings). The latest independent fare from France and elsewhere is complemented by regular themed events...

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East of the centre

Ciné 104

Displaying the kind of community spirit (not to mention prices) that has been all but snuffed out in the city centre, Le Ciné 104 is a heartwarming reminder of what cinemas once were – and can still be. It’s a genuinely popular place, its diverse programme of new releases, second-run films and hidden gems (many from the Maghreb) attracting the Pantin banlieusards in droves. The personable staff are clearly committed to the locals...

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