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Hidden on a side street near the grand Parisian department stores of Boulevard Haussmann, the small Théâtre Michel initially attracted my attention because it offered a classic French play, Cyrano de Bergerac, in French with English subtitles.
Well surtitres actually, as the English translation was projected above the stage, not below. For someone who would have then, and most likely still now, missed the finer nuances of a clever play entirely in French, this was heaven-sent.
This little theater is a gem. Dating back to 1906, this Italianesque space is covered in red and gold with a chandelier in the charming lobby, an intimate stage, and red velvet seating for 350 visitors. In 2014, the theater became one of the first in Paris to offer plays with English translations. Incidentally, the Théâtre Mathurins located right next door now also offers some plays with English surtitles.
Alas, you can’t expect every play to have English texts. Those of us who struggle with the rapid fire that is the French language do need to shop around, but fortunately many of the smaller theaters in Paris take turns programming plays with translations. If you’re lucky enough that the Théâtre Michel has one on the calendar while you’re in town, jump at the chance to see it! And might I suggest popping across the street to the traditional bistro Le Greffulhe for a pre- and maybe after-show drink.
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