Theaters in Paris: Don’t Speak French? No Problem

Theaters line just about every street in Paris. They are, and always have been, an integral part of Parisian life. Want to experience the rich theatrical history of the French? Thanks to technology, English speakers can now enjoy French plays first-hand with “surtitles.”

Cultural Immersion: The Full Experience

Theatre in Paris for non-French speakers Paris

Imagine sitting in a soft red velvet chair taking in the wonderment of French culture through a classic play from the 18th century. You have the best seats in the house with a perfect view of the stage. Surrounded by a beautiful historic theater drenched in lights and detailed wood, you wonder how it could get any better. And although listening to the words in French is exciting, knowing what they are saying in English intensifies the cultural experience. Sitting among the locals, you become a Parisian for a night.

What’s a Surtitle?

Surtitles, also called supertitles, are the theater version of subtitles. In French, “sur” means above. The translation text is projected above the stage, unlike subtitles which are shown at the bottom of the screen on video and TV.

The Paris Theatre: Sex & City 2 premiere

Theatre in Paris developed surtitle services so that visitors that speak English can follow right along with the French audience. Tourism is big business, and the ability to appeal to English-speaking tourists is a smart financial move. Tourists who visit Paris are looking for an experience, not just a visit to another country. Surtitles gives them what they’re looking for in entertainment.

While watching a play, you’ll see the English translation above the stage. The idea is that you can watch the play and easily see in English what the French-speaking actors are saying in real-time.

You have to love technology!

Theaters that offer surtitle services also guarantee perfect seats for seeing both at the same time. Most often, these are balcony seats because they give the best view. An English-speaking staff person takes you to your seat as part of the package.

You’ll also receive a printed program complete with the theater’s history, all in English. Now that’s excellent service! There’s no guess-work involved. Just don’t forget to tip the staff member who brings you to your seat and explains the history of the theater, it’s a French tradition.

English Translation Theaters

You won’t have trouble finding a play, an improv show, a comedy, or a musical to watch in Paris. Behind London and New York, Paris is the third leading theater city in the world. Productions are performed nightly in small theaters and large venues alike. Most theaters that are technologically savvy enough to offer surtitle services also have online booking and ticket printing available.

Here’s a partial list of theaters and opera houses that offer English surtitles:

  • Theatre in Paris
  • Edouard VII Theatre: Contemporary French Comedies
  • Mogador
  • Ranelagh Theatre
  • Splendid
  • Odeon-Theatre de l’Europe: Offers Sign Language, Russian, and Vietnamese
  • Le Ranelagh Theatre: Classic Plays
  • La Colline
  • Theatre de l’Œuvre
  • Opéra Bastille Opera House
  • Palais Garnier Opera House

Your Parisian experience is waiting. Make sure and bring a loved one or a friend to share it with.