So a few days ago I spoke about film locations in London. While I could have gone on and on listing location after location, I thought I ought to turn my attention elsewhere for this post. Paris. There are certain movies that make me want to grab my passport and head straight to Paris… and now days, nine times out of ten, that’s exactly what I do.
1. Midnight in Paris. Parisian Restaurant.
My favourite Paris-set movie, despite Owen Wilson’s voice being like fingernails on a chalkboard sometimes… one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when F. Scott Fitzgerald introduces Gil to Ernest Hemingway in Le Polidor restaurant. Honestly, the number of amazing visionaries that Wilson’s character meets in this movie, I get seriously jealous (I have a tendency to get a little too sucked into a plot, perhaps). Isn’t the the dream? To chat with Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Picasso about their genius? Especially if Fitzgerald actually had looked like Tom Hiddleston…
What few people realise though, is that this location was not just chosen for the movie because it fits the setting and looks like a restaurant fit for the 1920s – this is the restaurant. Opened in 1845, this restaurant regularly hosted Hemingway, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller. It’s still open, it’s still very much as it always was. It is a must-see spot for any bibliophile Paris tourist.
From Cluny – La Sorbonne metro station (which you will find on line 10), walk down Boulevard Saint Michel, walking south. After three or four minutes, turn right down Rue Racine. You will find Le Polidor on the corner of the crossroads between Rue Racine and Rue Monsieur le Prince.
2. Midnight in Paris. Rodin Tour.
The scene that introduced Carla Bruni to the movie as a museum guide… and then Micheal Sheen steals the scene by bickering with about her stated facts. Musee Rodin, a must-see attraction in its own right, and yet so many people miss it entirely. The nearest metro station, Varenne station (line 13), is literally a moment away. From the top of the station steps, turn around and walk away from the station entrance. You will find Musee Rodin two minutes away on the crossroads corner. Beware – it gets very busy during the day. Just a quick look at the street view on Google Maps shows that the queue can at times curl around the corner and down the street.
3. Amelie. Amelie’s Apartment.
Possibly the most famous French-spoken movie. There are a lot of Amelie tours in Paris, covering all languages, but personally, I prefer to wander around Montmartre alone, early in the morning, when it is quiet. Amelie’s apartment and the fruit and vegetable shop can be found on the corner of Rue des Trois Freres. Apparently the shopkeeper liked the redesign of his shop so much, that he decided to keep it – including the ‘Maison Collignon’ sign.
(Now all I am hearing in my head is ‘Collignon, crêpe chignon! Collignon, face de fion! Collignon, tête à gnons! Colignon va jamais manger ses oignons!’
To reach this iconic Amelie location, the nearest metro station is Abbesses (line 12). From the station exit, walk past the red brick church, Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre. After a minute, you will see an archway on your right, which leads to a quaint street. This street – Passage de Abbesses – will lead to the road that you are looking for: Rue des trois Frères. The fruit market, and, above it, Amelie’s apartment, stands directly opposite the passage way.
4. Amelie. The Two Windmills Cafe.
This is another location that is still open for business and almost identical to how it looks in the movie. The Two Windmills – Caffe des 2 Moulins – can be found not far from Amelie’s apartment, on Rue Lepic. It often features on lists of Paris’ best cafe’s, and I’m sure that’s not purely because it featured in a movie. It’s a great place to take a break and people-watch with an espresso.
The nearest metro station is Blanche (line 2). From the metro entrance, turn down Rue Lepic and you will find the cafe on your right.
Alternatively, from Amelie’s apartment, walk back down Passage de Abbesses. When you arrive back on Rue des Abbesses, rather than turning left, back towards Abbesses, turn right. Take a left into Rue Lepic.
5. Before Sunset. Begin their walk.
One of the most picturesque streets in Paris, Rue Saint Julien le Pauvre, starts Jesse and Céline on their next talkative, romantic walk. It is also just around the corner from Notre Dame.
From Quai de Montebello, which overlooks Notre Dame, you will find the famous Shakespeare and Co bookshop (which also features in the movie) just beyond the grassy space of Square René-Viviani. After a look around the bookshop, take a few steps back towards Square René-Viviani, and you will find Rue Saint Julien le Pauvre on your right.
6. Before Sunset. Parisian Cafe.
Not a favourite movie of mine, I must admit, but it’s fairly iconic, and shows some great spots of Paris. During their movie-long walk, they stop at Le Pure Cafe on Rue Jean Macé, in the 11th arrondissement. It’s still open for business today, your stereotypical Parisian cafe. Its website includes a menu, if you wish to stop off here during your own wanderings.
The nearest metro station is Charonne (line 9). From the exit on Boulevard Voltaire, turn left down Rue de Charonne. After a few minutes of walking, turn left once again, down Rue Faidherbe. You will see Le Pure Cafe on the corner, just as the road forks.
7. The Tourist. Parisian Cafe.
First of all, how gorgeous is Jolie’s wardrobe throughout this movie? Her opening scene outfit especially. While most of this movie is set in Venice, it begins on the streets of Paris. The opening cafe scene of the movie takes place around Palais Royale, which can be reached using metro lines 1, 7 or 14.
From the nearest metro station, Palais Royale – Musée de Louvre (lines 1 and 7), take the exit that leads to Place du Palais Royale. From there, the exact spot used in the movie can be found across the square. From the metro station, walk to the opposite side of the square, and turn left into Rue Saint-Honoré, cross the road immediately into another square: Place Colette. It should now look very familiar to you as the cafe where Angeline Jolie received – and destroyed – a message, before heading to Gare de Lyon station.
8. The Da Vinci Code. The Rose Line Church.
South of the Seine, you will find the church to which Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu follow the rose line: Saint-Sulpice Church. This is, of course, a church, so you can’t walk about the same areas that are used in the movie – the ‘behind the scenes’ space at will, but they do hold limited, separate tours of the church, crypts and upper facade a few times a day, information regarding which can be found here.
The nearest metro station is Saint Sulpice (line 4). The station staircase brings you to the crossroads between Rue de Vieux Colombier and Rue de Rennes. The exit and entrance are placed on either side of the street that you will want to turn down: Rue de Vieux Colombier. Walk down Rue de Vieux Colombier for a few minutes until you come to Place Saint-Sulpice. The church will be towering over you in the square.
9. The Da Vinci Code. The Louvre.
The most famous location of the movie – The Louvre. It’s where it all starts and ends. The Louvre features in every guide book and is highlighted on every map, and rightly so, as it should be the number one sight in Paris for every tourist to visit. Even more so than the Eiffel Tower, in my opinion.
While the main metro stop is Palais Royale – Musée de Louvre (lines 1 and 7), equally you could access the museum just as easily from Louvre-Rivoli (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8 and 12) or Tuileries (line 1). Equally, you can access the Musée de Louvre via the underground Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre.
10. Funny Face. The Louvre.
I know this is once again Musée de Louvre, but I felt that I had to include this interior shot from Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face. This movie is basically about a newly discovered fashion model (Hepburn), who is taken to Paris by a fashion photographer (Fred Astaire) and magazine team, and then they photograph Hepburn in various iconic Parisian settings. For example, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which takes centre stage in one of the grand museum corridors.
Other Funny Face locations where Hepburn poses for ‘Quality Magazine’ include the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Opéra National de Paris, the gardens of Versailles Château, which is about 15km from Paris, and the nearby Château de la Reine blanche, which is about 50km from Paris.
11. Inception. Parisian Cafe
I think it’s needless to point out just how amazing this movie is. Visually, it’s incredible. The locations used, unsurprisingly, range from Morocco to LA, Japan to Paris. While in the movie, the scene at the Parisian cafe is set within a dream, the cafe itself is real, and open for business: Da Stuzzi Cafe. You will find Du Stuzzi on the south side of the Seine, in the 7th arrondissement.
The nearest metro station is Ségur (line 10), though it sits fairly evenly between Ségur, Sévres-Lecourbe (line 6) and Duroc (line 10). From Ségur, the exit will bring you to the crossroads between Avenue de Suffren and Rue Pérignon. Turn right down Rue Pérignon, and walk for just a few minutes, and then turn right onto Rue Bouchut. You will see Du Stuzzi on the corner of the crossroads between Rue Bouchut and Rue César Franck, on your left.
12. Inception. Bridge
I think this is the only ‘double decker’ bridge that I have ever come across: Pont de Bir Hakeim. It features in Inception during the scene above, when Cobb warns Ariadne about the dangers of creating places from memory rather than imagination.
Pont de Bir Hakeim has also featured in Last Tango in Paris, Zazie dans le Métro, Munich and Now You See Me.
A metro station stands at either side of the bridge; Passy on the northern side of the Seine, and Bir-Hakeim (both of which are on line 6) on the southern side. Both stations bring you out directly beneath the upper-bridge.
Otherwise, the bridge is just a ten minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. From the tower, follow the Seine south, passing Pont d’Iéna – Pont de Bir Hakeim is the next bridge along.
13. An Education. Picnic.
On the quiet Île de la Cité, on the western tip, you will find a beautiful little park, Square du Vert Galant. It is here where Jenny and David have a romantic picnic overlooking the Pont des arts at sunset.
To recreate this scene with your own picnic, the park is easy enough to reach. There is just on metro station on Île de la Cité: Cité station (line 4). From Allée Célestin Hennion, walk north until you reach the Seine, and then turn left, following Quai de la Corse around the edge of the island. You will reach the entrance to Square du Vert Galant in about five minutes.
14. The Bourne Identity. Treadstone HQ.
One of the key scenes in The Bourne Identity is the Treadstone safehouse. The real location can be found in Place du Marche Sainte Catherine. It’s a private building, but you can sit in the very pretty square that surrounds it and enjoy a coffee.
The nearest station is Saint-Paul (line 1). As you exit the station onto Rue Saint-Antoine, turn around and walk east. Turn left down Rue Canon, and it will bring you out to Place du Marche Sainte Catherine. The door you are looking for is on your right, next to La Marché Restaurant.
15. Something’s gotta give. Ending.
In this movie, Pont d’Arcole is used for the climatic, romantic final scene between Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. It seems to be a running theme; using bridges for romantic scenes. I don’t know what it is about bridges that make them such a used setting.
Pont d’Arcole is one of the many bridges connecting Île de la Cité to the mainland, and this particular bridge sits on the northern side of the island.
16. Julie and Julia. Market.
Julia shops for her needed ingredients at Rue Mouffetard street market in the 5th arrondissement. This is one of the oldest streets in Paris, dating back centuries, as well as being one of the most picturesque, so I strongly recommend a visit. Hemingway mentions it in ‘A Moving Feast’, with the quote, ‘a wonderful, narrow crowded market street‘.
From Censier-Daubenton metro station (line 7), walk straight ahead, down Rue Monge. After two minutes, turn left down Rue de l’Epee-de-Bois, and then turn right into Rue Mouffetard, where you will find the street market.