The entrance to the Salle Saint Jean is at the northeast corner of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), where the rue de Lobau meets rue Rivoli. Here there is usually some sort of interesting (and free) exhibition going on. On my visit in 2006 it was Paris au Cinema, a detailed and fascinating account of Paris in the movies from the beginnings of moving pictures up to the present day.
The brothers Lumiere in Lyon began experimenting with the first moving pictures as early as 1895. (See my posts Villa Lumière in Lyon and By train to Toulon.) Some early examples of films from the 1890s were shown at the exhibition, as well as stills and samples from just about every year since then.
At the end several big screens showed excerpts from famous films that were set in Paris. Makes you wonder to what extent our perceptions of Paris have been influenced by what we have seen in the movies.
One of the text panels at the exhibition said that so-and-so many hundred permits are issued each year to shoot films on the streets of Paris, and so-and-so many dozen films are being shot in Paris on a given day. (Sorry, I neglected to note down the figures.) Later that afternoon I actually did see some folks shooting a film in Paris at the Place du Châtelet. The scene was of a young man with a silly grin on his face walking awkwardly past the café and turning left at the end. They shot the same scene about six times, and the director* — that’s the grim-looking chap behind the cameraman — did not seem at all happy with how it was going. But eventually they packed up and left, so I guess they must have got it in the can. (If you ever see it on the screen, please let me know.) *Is he famous? Should I have recognized him?
My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2018.