France has definitely been having a bit of a thing about all things sterotypically American recently. Unlike America with France (too many beasties in mimolette, seriously?). We’ve got cupcakes in Paris. We’ve got burgers in Paris. We’ve got food trucks in Paris. And now an American drive in movie theater in Paris. Or at least a pop up one. Pop ups are trending in Paris now.
As soon as I read about the Cinema Paradiso Drive in at the Grand Palais I wanted to go. Grease was showing! Grease is probably my all-time favorite, life-shaping movie.
But I forgot to be in the right place at the right time online and missed out on a ticket. So I settled for signing up in case any more were put on sale. And bingo about ten days later, although it was like looking for a golden ticket in a Willie Wonka chocolate wrapper as it took 35 minutes of refreshing the saturated website to manage to snatch just one ticket. For a second showing at 11.45 pm. On a Thursday (work) night.
The Grand Palais in Paris is not a large palace in Paris. It’s rather a huge, beautiful greenhouse, being topped with with a big verriére, or glass roof, with art deco ironwork inside. It’s used for various temporary exhibitons or events, like art shows or catwalks.
But this time they put a diner in it. And not only a diner, a roller rink, a host of old and newer computer games, a nightclub and a drive in.
I’d been hoping to continue my non-meat burger testing at the Nouveau Palais diner but they didn’t have anything I could eat apart from a petit mac’n’cheese. They didn’t even have any fries, only chips and I don’t mean English chips, but American (which is also the French, which they pronounce “sheeps”, with the “s” for once).
I had better luck after queuing at the Omnivore stand for a salmon wrap.
And for dessert I queued for a frozen yogurt with toppings. Fruit, but Asian exotic fruits.
Queuing was the main activity apart from the video games through the decades or roller rink or visiting the display of junk food, all imported exclusive American products. It was rather like visiting a museum even though you could buy everything, but at 10 euros a box of cereal the displays were staying pretty intact.
But hey, I needed something to occupy me, I got there at 8 and the film was due to start not for a few hours.
I’d hopped up some steps to get this photo of the first showing of the film:
And when I turned round everyone who’d been sat on those steps had got up to start queuing for the film. So my plans to sit on the steps with them turned into stand… in the queue with them. At 10.15 pm.
So we queued, and continued queueing. Then ooh, shuffling. To a holding area where we could see the end of the 1st showing, and then more stationary queuing.
And finally I could sit down.
The drive in was if you were lucky enough to nab a 80-euro pair of tickets to actually sit in a car.
Otherwise you got the chance to sit on one of the deckchairs or mattresses on the advertised “hill” aka the flat concrete floor in front of the screen.
Or as I chose, the front row of the sets of classic seats.
Grease is the film I must have seen a thousand times. It’s also had a certain influence on me. The clothes, like pencil or full skirts (minus poodles), the 50s style, cars, the boys… And yet I was really young when it came out. But I can sing along to the songs. I can recite a good part of the dialogue. I have spotted mistakes in the film (have you noticed in the diner when the waitress switches off the light? Her elbow hits the wall!) and that’s of sorts what I do for a living now (not in film). And I’ve spent most of my life flitting between being a good girl and wanting to be a bad girl and sometimes succeeding. And I had a pair of those skintight black satin jeans she wears at the end. At age 9. They had blue piping down the sides.
It was fun to see some people had come dressed for the occasion, and I was surprised by the age of everyone, a long way from being born when the film came out.
The film finally started at midnight. The scenes rolled quickly, and I had to fight not to sing out loud (because that would have ruined it for everybody). I’d also wondered if there might be a kind of Mamma Mia atmosphere. Just a little, with some doing the arm choreography in Greased Lightening (Super Eclair in French, as suprisingly éclair also in lightening in French).
Occasionally the Superclub made its presence felt (it had superceded the roller rink and was nothing to do with a supperclub as you might read as I did for a split second if you’re among the food obsessed, despite putting on Club sandwich with Miss Kitten (presumably the DJ) on June 20). You can imagine the acoustics and sound, and even though we watched the film with headphones, it came pumping through.
And then the final scene. Sandy gets her makeover to get her guy, although these days that would be frowned upon, even though Danny did try to change. And they fly off into the sunset.
Was it worth it, all the queuing to watch a film I’d seen a hundred times, at midnight in a greenhouse?
What a question.
Cinema Paradiso was on in Paris at the Grand Palais from June 10 to 21.