The Amphithéâtre Anglais in Paris, also known as the Amphithéâtre d'Astley, was opened in 1782 by Philip Astley, the English inventor of the modern circus ring (hence Anglais), as the first purpose-built circus in France.
Located on a large site in the rue du Faubourg du Temple, it was originally a round theatre constructed in wood, with two seating levels and lit by 2,000 candles. The theatre was open four months out of the year and featured equestrian performances interspersed with juggling and other acts.
Astley leased his Parisian circus to Antonio Franconi in 1793, during the French Revolution. Because of the small size of Astley's theatre, Franconi moved the circus to the enclosure of the former Convent of the Capucines, where he constructed stables and a new theatre.
In 1807 Franconi ceded his enterprise to his two sons, Laurent and Henri, who renamed it the Cirque Olympique. With the construction of the rue Napoléon that same year, they were obliged to move again, to a new theatre between the rue du Mont-Thabor and the rue Saint-Honoré. It was leased to them by Francois Delpont and opened on 28 December 1807. The Franconi brothers were forced to close this theatre on 27 May 1816, due to the planned construction of the public treasury at this location.
Return to Astley's theatre
The two brothers decided to return to Astley's old theatre, making extensive additions and alterations to the theatre and its site and renaming it the Cirque Olympique. They inaugurated the new theatre on 8 February 1817. On the night of March 15th, 1826, after a performance of the one-act melodrama I'lncendie de Salins, featuring a grand spectacle recreating the dramatic fire at Salins-les-Bains of 27 July 1825, the pyrotechnical effects sparked a genuine fire that burned the theatre to the ground. The brothers Franconi moved again, this time to the boulevard du Temple, where they built yet another theatre, also known as the Cirque Olympique, which was inaugurated on 21 March 1827.
Architectural drawings of the Cirque Faubourg du Temple
Architectural drawings of the Franconi brothers' 1817 theatre on the rue du Faubourg du Temple:
- Wild 1989, pp. 79–80.
- Joanne, Adolphe, Itinéraire général de la France: De Paris à la Méditerranée, 1863, Part I, s.v. Route 88 Salins, p. 307.
- Almanach du voyageur à Paris et dans les lieux les plus remarquables du royaume. Paris: Hardouin, 1787. Pg 219. Early description of the theatre- available online at the BNF
- Architectonographie des théâtres de Paris, ou Parallèle historique et critique de ces édifices considérés sous le rapport de l'architecture et de la décoration. Paris : impr. de P. Didot l'aîné: Orgiazzi, 1821. pp 223–226. Extensive description of the theatre and later alterations- available online at the BNF
- Tristan Remy. Les Clowns. Paris: Grasset, 2002. 
- Wild, Nicole (1989). Dictionnaire des théâtres parisiens au XIXe siècle: les théâtres et la musique. Paris: Aux Amateurs de livres. ISBN 978-0-8288-2586-3. ISBN 978-2-905053-80-0 (paperback). View formats and editions at WorldCat.
- Charles Hervey. The Theatres of Paris 
- Galignani's New Guide of Paris