International films showcase France
A long way from knowing the same success as American cinema, French films have been experiencing an increase in popularity abroad with more than 12.5 million tickets sold international in January, 2012 alone (source Unifrance). The multi-award winning film The Artist is certainly a convincing example of this.
France is also a marvellous place for directors and cinematographers from all over the world to come and create. Here is a quick overview of some of the films that have made people throughout the world dream of this breathtaking country.
Midnight in Paris
A young American couple who are set to be married in the autumn head to Europe to spend a few days in Paris. The magic of the capital doesn’t take long to overcome the pair, particularly the young man who is truly in love with the City of Lights. He finds himself wandering around the beautiful streets, yearning for a life that’s not his own. Screened for the first time at the opening ceremony for the 64th Cannes Film Festival, this is Woody Allen’s latest film including a role played by the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
There’s always a bit of America in Paris with the Statue of Liberty’s sister standing on an island in the Seine. Created by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, this sister statue only measures 11.5m in height, certainly making her the smaller sister compared to the 46.5m tall statue in New York City. When standing in front of this Statue of Liberty, you will indeed find that the “Iron Lady” (Eiffel Tower) is standing directly behind you. While here, it serves as a good opportunity to visit the areas around the Ile aux Cygnes, located between the Pont de Grenelle and the Maison de Radio France. Situated in the 15th arrondissement towards Bir-Hakeim, this neighbourhood was featured in several scenes of the film National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Directed by Jon Turteltaub, the film follows Nicholas Cage on his journey to prove the innocence of his great-great-grandfather.
The Château de Versailles was the official residence of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. Today it’s an unavoidable site to visit during your trip to France. Each room in the castle has its own story, located just outside of Paris. Director Sophia Coppola had the opportunity to truly relive the era of the kings of France while shooting the film, which based on the life of a queen of one of the more unloved kings, Louis XVI. So, through the life of the queen, we get the chance to visit the historical Versailles where each day on location, filming cost 15,425€. It’s an amazing privilege to enter into the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) from this perspective and setting, which served for a long time as the hallway between the living quarters of the King and Queen. Then there’s the small theatre, one of the preferred rooms in the castle for the Queen, which is equally unmissable. Undeniably, she took refuge there to have plays and music performed for her while in the company of friends. Kirsten Dunst brilliantly brings to life the guillotined queen, allowing us to discover all the different facets to the Château de Versailles. Today, you can just as easily visit the Château de Champs-sur-Marne where a magnificent 18th Century décor awaits you, featuring a shaded boudoir and an oval office, as well as a Chinese rock panelled room and a
delicate wood panelled room in the Marquise de Pompadour.
The Da Vinci Code
From Place Vendôme in the 1st arrondissement in Paris to the nodepicker==node/12849==The%20Louvre%20Museum==Louvre==], a prestigious atmosphere gives way to the plot of this film as you discover the museum at night. Howeevr, this is not just any museum, but rather one of the largest in the world in terms of exhibitions as well as being lodged in one of the most beautiful monuments in Paris. It’s during an inquiry into the mysterious symbols left behind by the museum’s dead curator that Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu explore the museum in search of answers. Starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, director Ron Howard invites you to discover the Louvre like you’ve never seen it. Certainly, some of the scenes were shot at night in the museum, however the film also includes shots from areas that are normally prohibited to the public. The Cour Carrée (Palace Courtyard) is the oldest and the most expensive part of the Louvre to rent, costing 70,000€ for the shoot, making it definitely an element of the museum worthwhile seeing! Although permission was not granted for onsite production at Saint-Sulpice, you can still go there and discover the beautiful Delacroix frescoes as well as the church’s renowned organs, located in the stunning 6th arrondissement.
Julie and Julia
It’s not the first time Meryl Streep has come to Paris to shoot a film. For The Devil Wears Prada, the star followed director David Frankel as he pointed his camera towards the luxury and fashion in this beautiful city. This time Streep has returned to highlight another form of luxurious indulgence – gastronomy. Streep does a wonderful job in playing the famous American chef. You get to discover certain symbolic areas of Paris as the story traces the life of Julia Child during her time in the French capital, including sites such as Rue Caulaincourt in the 18th arrondissement, one the of the trendiest streets in the city. Their journey also shows you the 5th arrondissement with Rue de la Bûcherie,
the Panthéon and its surroundings, and finally Rue Mouffetard. Several other notable sites consist of the Pont des Arts, romantic parks around the city, Ile St. Louis, the Jean XXIII square and Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève.
Coco avant Chanel
This film shows us Coco Chanel’s youth before she became the great fashion designer. Audrey Tautou transforms into the role of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel during the years of her youth and training seamlessly. Through this film, you are given an amazing opportunity to discover a large part of France as the protagonists complete their journeys. Starting in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, situated towards the south west of France, you’ll get an insight into a city that has more recently been classed as a town of art and history (classed since 2008). Limoges is famous for its porcelain, enamel and stained galas windows, giving it the international nickname as the fine arts capital. It’s in an orphanage close to Limoges where Gabrielle Bonheur grew up, before becoming one of the biggest symbols of fashion of history later in life. You then continue on your voyage inevitably arriving in Paris and other large cities where she would open boutiques. It is in Deauville where she’d escape with Arthur Capel, to its well known beach resort and casino. Then there’s Biarritz, a town in the south west towards the Spanish boarder, which is often frequented by amateur surfers, but more importantly it’s another one of the more prestigious beach resorts on the Atlantic coast.
La Vie en Rose
Explore some more emblematic areas of Paris through the moving story of the life of the great Edith Piaf. Starting with her infancy in the outer 20th arrondissement of Paris, situated on the Right Bank the area serves as a crossroads between the areas of Belleville, Ménilmontant and Charrone. You’ll then be taken past the Olympia Hall, the oldest and most well known music hall in Paris, a stage where this famous singer stunned audiences with her beautiful songs which include “La Vie en Rose”, “Non, je ne regrette rien” and “Milford” among many others. Continuing your journey towards the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, you’ll see how she lived out the last 10 years of her life on Boulevard Lannes. Finally, it’s at the Père Lachaise cemetery in the east of Paris where your journey ends. It’s here that the singer is buried in the company of other great personalities such as Oscar Wilde and Simone Signoret.
Welcome to the Sticks
You will be taken on a journey starting in the south of France, in Salon-de-Provence, only to be transported to the far north of the country, arriving in Bergues. After a short stay in the south where you’ll see and visit the Porte de l’Horloge and the Château de l’Empéri, the geographical displacement to the north combined with the new locals appears to be a true challenge. Thanks to director and actor Dany Boon, Welcome to the Sticks recounts the events of a postman who, following a serious misconduct, has been posted to Nord-Pas-de-Calais for two years. The victim of a negative first impression on the place, he goes on to find humanity, humour and joie de vivre in the country locals there. From the growing success of the film, the people of Bergeus have created an itinerary allowing you to discover the town through aspects of the film. During this tour, called the “Dany Boon Tour”, you’ll have the chance to really admire the bell tower of Bergues which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and which rings every 3 hours. This tour will also give you the opportunity to marvel in the parts of the town constructed by Vauban as well as the municipal museum and Saint Winoc Abbey. Of course, a tour around a French town isn’t complete without a little bit of taste testing, and here you’ll be able to taste maroilles, the cheese ‘star’ from the film.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this film was truly a phenomenon at the time of its release, making viewers all over the world discover an original Paris. Iconically starting in her amazing and idealised neighbourhood of Montmartre, this film tells the story of Amélie Poulain, a young 23 year old Parisian waitress. To travel through the essential scenes from the film, start with a drink on the terrace of Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, moving on to join the Canal St Martin which runs through the 10th and 11th arrondissements and connects the Bassin de Villette to the Bassin de l’Arsenal and the marina Plaisance de Paris. Finally, finish by discovering the marché de la butte and the famous Sacré-Coeur which will have you reliving the most moving parts of the film.