The Biggest Drive In Cinema Ever Organised in a Capital City

cinema paradiso grand palais

As soon as the news broke that the Grand Palais was going to host a complete drive in cinema, right in the heart of Paris, I was frantically writing out post-it notes and mobile reminders to be in with a chance of snagging some tickets to this highly anticipated event.  Once I’d succeeded in my mission, I waited impatiently for the night to arrive…

It has to be mentioned that any event in the Grand Palais is likely to be a success. The venue itself is stunning with its magnificent glass roof in the huge open space with majestic staircases and mezzanines overlooking the room. Add to that a drive in cinema, an all-American diner, vintage arcade center and roller disco and you’ve got yourself a winner!

On arrival in the space, it was hard to know where to look first. At first my eyes were drawn in by stands of the American junk f0od we all seem to obsess about here in Europe; Froot Loops next to Reese’s Pieces, bars of Hershey’s chocolate and M&Ms in flavours which one could never even imagine combining together! This pop-up store was partnered with Parisian concept boutique Colette where specially designed souvenirs were displayed from t-shirts and candles to lip balms and other small trinkets… Mostly over-priced but a fun gift for a hard-core fan.

diner cinema paradiso grand palais

Next on the journey through the open space was the American diner, placed right in the middle of the venue. Here once could queue up for fast food and snacks such as the classic cheeseburgers and chips (watch out Brits, these are in fact American ‘chips’ and not ‘fries’ so you may find yourself disappointed upon receiving your meal of burger and crips!). The burger is small but tasty and a meal here is definitely a crucial part of the evening.

arcade jeux grand palais

Barbie was a key presence throughout the event with curious artwork of large glass sweeties filled with Barbie accessories and an amusing Barbie foosball table! More interesting, however, were the beautiful Barbie interpretations of classic film characters including Elizabeth TaylorGrace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn in their various roles…

barbie exhibition grand palais ParisElizabeth Taylor in her role of Cleopatra in the film of the same title (1963) and Melanie Daniels as Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds (1963).

barbie exhibition grand palais paris

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 film My Fair Lady.

Olivia Newton John Barbie

Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsen in the 1978 musical film Grease (before and after her dramatic style make-over!).

arcade in paris

The retro arcade with video games from 1975 onwards with all the childhood favourites from Mario to Pacman!

roller disco in Paris

Roller disco in the impressive open space of the Grand Palais with stairs leading to the mezzanine where diners of more expensive taste could choose a 3-course menu created by 2-star Michelin Chef Jean-François Piège. The set-menu costs £130 and the miniature restaurant only caters for two tables of four guests, three times a day.

l'arbre de vies

A display of artwork punctuates the bare corridors, this piece called Arbre de Vies (Tree of Lives) was created by artist Arthur Simony.

Soapland art

My favourite work of art in the exhibition was this old looking shower which upon closer inspection seems to be home to a small island of nudists! Soapland created by Atsunobu Kohira.

cinema drive in le grand palais

Finally, the drive in cinema itself which was one of the main attractions. Viewers can choose to watch a film in the little Fiat 500 cars placed at the back of the room (a car for two people with a glass of Moet & Chandon each is £70) or simply to enjoy the environment in either the seated areas or mattresses and loungers at the front. Films available included musical classics like Grease and Dirty Dancing to more dramatic movies such as Jaws and E.T.

The Cinema Paradiso exhibition is running until the 21st of June this year and tickets for basic entry into the event are £10 online at FNAC or £12 at the door and once inside most attractions are totally free aside from the cinema and any food or drink. A cheeseburger menu will cost you £14. If you happen to be in or around the French capital for the next week or so, a visit here is definitely not to be missed!

Le Grand Palais, 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 (Metro Champs-Elysées – Clemenceau)

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