The Eden-Théâtre in La Ciotat, the oldest cinema in the world

The first screening in the legendary hall of Eden, the oldest cinema in the world located in La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône), dates back to March 1899. The establishment is now listed in the Guinness World Records.

It has hardly changed since 1889. At La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône), the Eden was inaugurated the same year as the Eiffel Tower. Ten years later, the first films of the Lumière brothers, the pioneers of cinematography, were screened in this establishment. Eden is today officially recognized as the oldest cinema in the world in activity.

The Eden-Théâtre is an ocher building facing the sea. Contrary to what its name suggests, it is indeed a cinema. If it was so baptized, it is because it was built in 1889. “The cinema did not yet exist, it was invented in 1895”, . The poster for the very first Eden screening, in 1899, is also on display in the entrance to the small cinema. It advertises around twenty light films, including “Launch of a ship at La Ciotat”. The price of the chair is then 75 cents.

With its red seats, of course, Eden looks more like “an Italian theater” than to a contemporary cinema. The seats each bear a plaque in the name of the celebrities who attended a screening in the century-old cinema. .

Upstairs, you can enter the projection booth. Today, it is equipped with the latest technologies since they broadcast all the films digitally. Every year, 1,200 sessions are screened at Eden, heritage works, but also art and essay films or others for young audiences.

As a partner of numerous prestigious organisations, such as the French European cinematheques, the Authors’ society, famous producers and film makers, the Pathé-Gaumont archives, the Eden decidedly fits into the world of contemporary French cinema. 

In 2018, on the occasion of the national congress of the FNCF, the Eden was recognised as an innovative cinema by the CNC, for its ability to link tradition and modernity. 

From the Lumière Brothers’ cinematographe to Hollywood blockbusters… what an extraordinary adventure for the Eden! 

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