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The Louxor, a legendary cinema in Paris’ north, reopened on 17 April after more than 20 years of closure, reviving a lost and unique part of the capital’s cultural heritage that should be added to any visitor’s list of interesting – and quirky – sites to see. 

Built in 1921, the imposing building’s neo-Egyptian architecture (hence its name after the Egyptian city of Luxor), dominates a crossroads that straddles the border of Paris’ 9th, 10th and 18th arrondissements. A successful cinema from the 1920s to the 1970s, it was sold to a private developer in the 1980s and turned into a nightclub. In 1988, it closed and was left derelict until Paris City Hall redeveloped and reopened it as a cinema, making it a publicly owned building with an important cultural role in the neighbourhood.

The Louxor’s impressive structure, with its mosaic columns, saw it classified as a listed building in 1981, which saved it from demolition. Following a two-year renovation, the stunning gold, cobalt and black mosaics of flowers, snakes and scarab beetles on the façade have been meticulously restored to the original 1920s architecture. The vast interior – also fully restored to its former glory  – houses three screens, one of which has a ceiling painted with a night-sky mural in the style of an Egyptian tomb.

The cinema will specialise in art house films – all screened in their original language – and will also host cinema festivals, educational courses on film and movie-based activities, such as fairytale readings and films for children.

Kim Laidlaw is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.

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