Paris, such an attractive and wonderful city, with its small streets and the smell of fresh pastry in the morning. The city of the Eiffel Tower and, albeit victim of a fire, the majestic Notre-Dame. Ever since ancient times, the city has been an inspiration for many great minds, like writers, artists, poets and architects. Hemingway called Paris a “moveable feast”, something that stays with you wherever you go, in the form of a magnificent memory. With the advances in technology of nowadays, Paris can be really taken with you – on your phone or tablet – or you can plunge into the atmosphere of this magical city again and again, thanks to some great films created by the masters of cinema.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
It is difficult to say how many times the city of love has become the scene of films. Paris is known from comedies, thrillers, horror movies and family films, melodramas and action films. And what about the sweetest romantic films? Of course, the Champs-Elysées, the Louvre, and Montmartre have welcomed uncountable movie sets. But sometimes the filming locations were a little different, and so interesting and engaging that they became a Mecca for cinema fans. Make your visit to the city of love super exciting, by learning more about some of the most memorable filming locations in Paris.
We will start with the sunny and adorable French movie “Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” or simply “Amélie”. This is a movie about a shy girl who lives a rather quiet and isolated life in Montmartre, working in a local brasserie. As a child, she was mistakenly diagnosed with a heart disease, so she could not go to school and make friends. Much attention didn't come from her father either, who got very sullen after the death of his wife. However, Amélie grew up a very nice person and did not cease to be a child with a bottomless fantasy that led her to the adventures shown in the film.
Virtually this entire film was made on the streets of the charming Montmartre, that is full of secrets, riddles and history, like Amélie herself. She works as a waitress in the Café des Deux Moulins (translated as “Two Mills” from French), and for the joy of all gourmets and film fans, this café really exists. As a popular place for visitors wanting to enjoy the movie interior, it is advised to come here as early as possible – get directions. After having a nice croissant with a coffee in the best French tradition, have a stroll through the hilly streets, without following special directions or pointers, and feel the playful charm that has surrounded Montmartre for decades. No wonder so many artists and writers lived here. If you still wish to look into another Amélie place, consider getting your vitamins of the day in the shop Au Marché de la Butte – get directions – a place Amélie loved to visit, specialized in fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, Amélie loved walking around the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica with its amazing views over the city – a place where one of the key-scenes of the movie was shot.
Who among us does not like secrets? This gripping sensation when you solve riddles one by one, ultimately leading you to the cherished goal. So did the characters of the movie “The Da Vinci Code”, as they were running around the whole of Paris and even London in search of their treasure. The movie is based on the book of the same title and tells the story of the adventures of the American professor of symbolism Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu, a French woman working in the encryption department of the Paris police. They met at a murder site in the Louvre museum, where they encountered a dead body lying on the floor with strange mark on it. As an expert of all sorts of symbols, Robert was supposed to help the police understand what this strange sign on the body could mean. Sophie also decided to come to the scene of the crime, since the dead custodian was identified as being her grandfather. The meeting of Robert and Sophie under these strange circumstances meant the beginning of an exciting adventure in search of one of the greatest artifacts of all time – the Holy Grail.
The Louvre is one of the key places in the story. Here it begins, and here it ends. After finding the mysterious sign on the body, Robert and Sophie embark on a strange quest throughout the Louvre. They go from one Da Vinci painting to another, each time finding riddles on the canvas written in blood, which the professor guesses easily, as if eating nuts.
Writers and film directors will do anything to make their creations more mysterious. It is clear that much of what is shown to us in The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and we won't likely go through any bloody quest of Da Vinci's masterpieces, but one mystery has been there for many years, and that's the mystery of the world's most expensive painting, the Mona Lisa. Many have tried to understand and explain its secret, but so far no one has succeeded convincingly. Maybe it’s her look? Maybe her smile? Who knows...
The church of Saint-Sulpice was another key location in the film. When you go inside this church you will see a metal line that divides the church exactly along the north-south axis. It is a historical remain of what was known as the Parisian Meridian. For centuries it was used by scientists to determine geographic longitudes, until the Greenwich Meridian was taken as a reference point at the International Meridian Conference in Washington in 1884. This thin metal line on the church floor leads to the gnomon, an obelisk that works as a sundial mechanism. According to the plot, the 'keystone' was expected to be found underneath this gnomon – and the keystone was important, as it was understood to be a kind of map leading to the Holy Grail. But no stones nor maps were found underneath the church, as this turned out to be just another hurdle on the way to the treasure.
Do you like walking in the rain? On a warm summer day, without an umbrella so that the drops pleasantly wash your face? Perhaps not, but the romantic character Gil from the movie “Midnight in Paris” loves this city during the rain. He is a young screenwriter from America who wants to become an author and is about to marry a girl who does not share his interests. He is a man who loves the past: music of the 1920s, old writers and pleasant Parisian cafés. Maybe she isn't made for him? Only his Parisian adventure can tell.
According to the plot, every night the main character miraculously visits the Paris of the 1920s, where he manages to get acquainted with all the bohemians of that time. Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Salvador Dalí and many others. One of the places shown in the film is the Polidor restaurant – get directions – which has become one of the most famous and popular restaurants in the city. Its interior has not changed since the end of the 19th century, and the dishes here are prepared the same way as in the past. Writers like James Joyce, Victor Hugo, Antonin Artaud, Eugène Ionesco, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller liked to spend their time here. Today you can visit Polidor to taste traditional French cuisine, like Bœuf bourguignon or Confit de canard, at affordable prices. And of course, a lot of fancy French wine.
Small streets, pleasant Parisian cafés – all this certainly inspired many great minds. But there is a place in Paris that is simply impossible to separate from the word "literature", where the walls, floor and nearly everything else is lined with books.
As you might have guessed, this is the famous store of Shakespeare & Company, where it is so pleasant to search for books, as Gil did experience too in Midnight in Paris. Shakespeare & Company is an iconic bookstore originally opened in 1919 by the American writer Sylvia Beach. In 1940, the store had to close, but in 1951, George Whitman reopened it, with the permission of Beach. Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce often used to spend their time here. By the way, Sylvia Beach first published the novel "Ulysses" by Joyce, which was banned at the time in the United States and Great Britain. As before, the bookstore keeps attracting young talent, who can not only buy books here, but are also able to share their own creations. What's more, you can see small novels and poems on the walls around the books, isn’t it inspiring? Have a look in Shakespeare & Company, breathe the atmosphere, and who knows, maybe you will become that next great writer?
As you may know, in Paris nearly every bridge is like a work of art. But there's a few bridges that appear in the movies again and again. For example, the magnificent bridge of Alexandre III which totally needs no introduction. Here in the rain walked the already mentioned character Gil of Midnight in Paris. The bridge also became one of the key locations of the black-and-white film “Angel-A” by Luc Besson. The story tells about André, an ordinary guy, finding himself here at the edge of the Pont Alexandre III. André owes a lot of money and has decided to jump into the Seine, but before that he notices a beautiful girl who seemingly had decided to commit suicide by jumping from the same bridge. After rescuing her, she promises to help him and the story begins.
Pont Alexandre III was also mentioned in the famous cartoon “Anastasia”, dedicated to a girl who is supposed to be the daughter of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II. It is on this bridge that the evil Rasputin tries to kill Princess Anastasia.
Another bridge worth mentioning is the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. This incredible piece of engineering could be the next great item on your movie locations list – and a nice extra here is the breathtaking view on the Eiffel Tower. Such movies as “The Last Tango in Paris”, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”, “Taxi 2” and even the TV series “Dexter” had scenes on this place. But we will highlight the exciting thriller "Inception" here. The main idea of Inception is about touching upon the subconscious of people, by entering their dreams. The scene shot on the Bir-Hakeim bridge actually took place in the mind of the character Ariadne. Here she created mirror doors out of nowhere, lifted entire streets – in other words, violated the laws of physics! We will not go into all the details of the plot, just believe that the film is worth watching. And we also recommend to visit the Bir-Hakeim bridge, just to make sure that there are no mirror doors...
Plan your movie tour easily with our Streetwise map of Paris. All the items covered in this story are displayed on our map. Besides that, you will be filled in on the latest information about the trendiest shopping streets, bar streets and possible unsafe parts of Paris. With our map you can easily tell when visiting the Saint-Sulpice church – in order to relive The Da Vinci Code – that there's a wonderful shopping area nearby, known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Or would you prefer heading in the opposite direction for one of the best parks in Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg? With Streetwise, Paris is at your fingertips!