I was going through some old files this weekend and found a Pariscope I had saved from May 1996 (above left) with a page on classic films dog-eared (I like to think I was going to watch The Bicycle Thief since I was obsessed with Italian neo-realism in college, but it's more likely I was planning to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show). For some reason I imagined the Pariscope was no more, like the Minitel or the Bi-Bop mobile phone. But passing by the newsstand on the way to the market, there it was (above right), neatly stacked, and still a steal at just €0.70. So I bought one, and it was like traveling back in time.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the Pariscope is a weekly print magazine, about half the size of a regular magazine, which has come out every Wednesday since 1965 to coincide with the film schedule (cinemas change the films every Wednesday, when premiers are shown; that's why sometimes you get big American blockbusters showing in France two days before the more typical Friday premiers in America).
Aside from a detailed schedule of every single movie showing in every single cinema in Paris (and until you see them all in one spot like this, it's hard to appreciate the variety, depth and diversity of the film offerings in Paris), it also has restaurant reviews, the latest festivals, theatre, conferences and trade shows, museum and gallery shows, children's activities, and music concerts and festivals of all genres. It's thorough yet succinct. Read through the black-and-white newsprint pages and you feel like you know exactly what's going on and where.
Unlike the internet, you don't have endless clicking through mazes of information, some out of date, cluttered with ads, blinking images and videos, and only partial listings. There is even, quaintly, a page of "Numéros Utiles" with emergency services, weather, traffic, airports, taxis, and pharmacies open 24/7.
For some reason, it just seems more simple than Googling for this info and getting 7 billion results to sift through. In 1996 it was just 3 francs (about €0.45), and although the price has gone up and the little English section written by the TimeOut staff is gone, it hasn't visibly changed at all since 1996. There is no website, but in one nod to modernity there is a free smartphone application if you're averse to shelling out €0.70 for the print version.
To preserve some semblance of journalistic integrity I should probably mention the Pariscope's competitor, l'Officiel des Spectacles, is also still going strong (and has a website). But much like Coke vs Pepsi or Burger King vs McDonald's, once you pick the one you like, you never cross over to the other camp.