Thirty Musketeers. Eight Scarlet Pimpernels, 13 Les Mis and 16 Hunchbacks. Every version filmed in Paris. But the French capital is not only perfect for swashbuckling historical epics. It is perfect in so many other ways. The ruler-straight boulevards, the seven-storey buildings and, perhaps above all, the silvery light makes Paris the city for the silver screen. Kissing, in particular, is given extra meaning if it happens in Paree. Is there any view more romantic than that of the Seine at dawn, la Tour Eiffel at sunset or, frankly, the Champs Élysées at any time of day? There have been hundreds of wonderful films shot in the French capital. Here are my favourite ten...
Paen to a chocolate-box Paris of twinkling lights, cheery café patrons and Art Nouveau Metro stations, with Audrey Tautou as the titular wide-eyed gamine. Shot almost entirely in Montmartre, you can have a glass of Perrier at the Café des Deux Moulins where she worked, on Rue Lepic.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
This madcap musical starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman is set in the famous Paris nightclub. The bravura shot zooming across Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the Sacré Coeur is a complete thrill.
Midnight In Paris (2011)
Woody Allen romp starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in a romantic saga also featuring Picasso, Hemingway and Dalí. Notable for the inclusion of Carla Bruni as a Louvre guide. Heart-wrenching shots of a soggy Paris, a city that, as Wilson notes, is at its most beautiful in the rain.
Métro: Louvre Rivoli
Paris, je t’aime (2006)
Twenty directors make 18 short films set in different arrondissements across the city. A must for any Paris lover, since the whole city is the star, but the one from the Coen Brothers, starring Steve Buscemi as an American tourist waiting at the Tuileries station, is hilarious.
Le Dernier Metro (1980)
Truffaut’s drama is set during the Nazi occupation, with Catherine Deneuve as the wife of a Jewish theatre director in hiding, who falls for the leading man (a young Gérard Depardieu). A vivid re-creation of occupied Paris by a director who had experienced it as a child.
This Michael Haneke thriller of sex, lies and videotape called for an everyday Paris street in the suburbs. Does such a thing exist? Mais oui. Eventually he found Rue des Iris in the Butte-aux- Cailles district of the shabby-but-chic 13th.
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
With that wonderful moment on the Quai de la Tournelle beside the flying buttresses of Notre Dame, with Goldie Hawn dancing in the air, Woody Allen must be classed as one of the directors to whom Paris is a muse.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Paul Greengrass’s third film in the Bourne saga has our hero (Matt Damon) leaping on and off the Métro in a chase around the streets of central Paris and a climactic scene in a typical Haussmann apartment. Then, of course, he hops on the Eurostar and carries on the action in London.
Métro: Gare du Nord
Mr Bean’s Holiday (2007)
Brilliant romp with scene-stealing moments from Mr Bean getting his tie eaten at a ticket machine in the Gare du Nord, and then a hilarious scene in the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon where our hero is unable to eat his oysters or langoustines, and slides them into a fellow diner’s handbag. Garcon!
Métro: Gare de Lyon
Les Amants du Pont-nEuf (1990)
Léos Carax’s movie was mistranslated in Australia as Lovers on the Ninth Bridge, rather than Lovers on the New Bridge. Confusingly, the Pont Neuf is actually the oldest bridge in Paris (and the first to be built in stone). Never mind. The famous span connects the city with the île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine. It is medieval in design but has been rebuilt many times — as well as wrapped in fabric by artist Christo in 1985. Go there and wallow in the utter romance of the setting.
Métro: Cité/Pont Neuf
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