Built in 1889, the World’s oldest public cinema located in La Ciotat, 20 miles east of Marseille has undergone a €6.5m (£5.5m) refurbishment in 2013 as part of the Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture program. It was in this exact same space, facing the gulf of Les Lecques, that history’s first public screening took place on 21 September 1895, in front of a hundred and fifty locals who were stunned by the Lumière brothers’ moving images of a steam locomotive facing them.
The maritime city witnessed the birth of an art form that did not have a name yet: cinema. Antoine Lumière, father of Louis and Auguste, an industrialist and artist from Lyons chose to build this place in La Ciotat in 1893. Light (if you excuse the pun) was very important to him and influenced his decision to set up three painting workshops too.
“Eden had remained closed for twenty years. It was in a terrible state. We scraped the walls back to the original color under 28 layers of paint.” said Michel Cornille, President of the operating entity responsible for the restoration, founded by Gilles Trarieux-Lumière, great-grandson of Louis.