With its vibrant cities, historical sights and expanses of verdant countryside, France is a popular filming location for many a visionary director – whether it be for Hollywood blockbusters or artistic independents. From the charm of the capital and its world-renowned landmarks to the smaller rural communes awash with traditional culture, we take a look at four films that truly embody the spirit of les Français.
Amélie – Paris
Jean-Pierre Jeunet transformed the streets of Paris into a vivaciously-coloured dream-like world for his film Amélie. Follow the Rue Saint Vincent up the hill to emulate the film’s opening scene, allowing you to discover the brilliantly white Sacre Coeur and revel in the incredible views at the city’s highest point, Montmartre. This arrondissement is also home to the title character’s apartment and neighbouring grocery store – Au Marche de la Butte – on the rue des Trois Frères, with its unmissable bright frontage. Close to one of the capital’s landmarks, the Louvre, you’ll find the famous Pont des Arts, one of the most romantic spots in Paris.. Amélie blissfully crosses the bridge in a haze of her desire to help mankind, and as the original home of love locks, it is the perfect place for all those sweet declarations.
Chocolat – Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
Regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain was chosen as the site for an adaptation of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. The fervently religious community, is shaken to the core after the arrival of bohemian chocolatier Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk. North of Dijon, the area is renowned for Anise pastilles, produced out of an old Benedictine Abbey, surrounded by fragrant botanical gardens. Traditional stone houses wrapped in vine leaves of the most vivid greens line narrow pathways along the route to the film’s chocolaterie. Highlights include the Church of St. Genest, along with the spectacular views across the French countryside visible from 12th century fortifications that border the village.
Midnight in Paris – Versailles
In Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris, unfulfilled screenwriter Gil Pender and his conservative fiancée Inez travel out of the city to the Château de Versailles, principal residence of the infamous King Louis XIV, Europe’s longest ever serving monarch. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, visitors can wander through the iconic Grande Galerie and admire the mesmerising effect of light from the glittering chandeliers bouncing off the mirrors lining the gold-adorned walls. The ornate apartments of Marie Antoinette are a must-see before heading out to explore the meticulously maintained lawns, vast beds of flowers and intriguing sculptures throughout the gardens.
I’ve Loved You So Long – Nancy
An homage to the works of French New Wave film director Éric Rohmer, I’ve Loved You So Long takes place in the riverfront city of Nancy. Against a backdrop of stunning Renaissance architecture, Juliette Fontaine attempts to rediscover her identity whilst the secret of her 15-year absence looms overhead. The city is bursting with history, as a centre for the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century and home to one of the most outstanding central squares in all of Europe, the Place Stanislas. The fine local Daum crystal is prominently displayed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, while the city’s cathedral can be found in the old quarter and is a fascinating example of 18th century design.
If this has inspired you, check out our adventure page for more ideas.