Tag Archives: amelie poulain

Take a tour of famous Paris film locations

10 Mar

Paris’s iconic landmarks and cobbled streets make the perfect film backdrop. With over 900 film shoots taking place in the capital every year, it’s a director’s dream.

From well-known sights to hidden gems, film buffs can easily retrace the steps of their favourite movie characters. Get your walking shoes on and take a trip around some of the city’s most famous film locations with our guided tour.

Here are our top five must-see places:

Le pont Bir-Hakeim
from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’
(metro: Bir-Hakeim)

The Bir-Hakeim bridge inception

The Bir-Hakeim bridge

Begin your day with a walk across the Seine on the Pont Bir-Hakeim. This double-decker bridge saw Ellen Page and Leonardo Dicaprio bend the laws of physics in one of ‘Inception”s eerie dream sequences. You might not be able to move the bridge with your mind, but you will get a good view of Paris. For the romantics amongst you, it’s also where Marlon Brando meets Maria Schneider in ‘Last Tango in Paris.’

Montmartre – Café des Deux Moulins
from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie Poulain’
15 rue Lepic (metro: Blanche)

CAFE des deux moulins amelie poulain

Amélie's Café des Deux Moulins

Next stop: the winding streets of Montmartre for a bite to eat in Amélie Poulain’s legendary café. The décor may have changed, but the authentic French atmosphere and service have remained the same. Fans of the film will delight in this tourist haven – and don’t forget to sample her trademark crême brulée for dessert.

L’Avenue des Champs Elysées
From Stanley Donan’s ‘Funny Face’
(metro: Charles de Gaulle)

Now it’s time to conquer Paris’s most famous sights. Look no further than the musical number ‘Bonjour, Paris!’ from ‘Funny Face.’ Make like Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire: march down the Champs Elysées from the Arc de Triomphe down to la Place de la Concorde, through the Tuileries then down by the banks of the Seine. Extra points if you can name all the sights in this clip:

L’Hôtel du Nord
From Marcel Carné’s ‘Hôtel du Nord’
102 quai de Jemmapes (metro: République)

hotel du nord marcel carne

L'Hôtel du Nord

Relive the 1938 French classic in the Hôtel du Nord‘s restaurant. The ideal venue for a candlelit evening meal, the iconic hotel has retained all its glamour and charm. Relax on the terrace with some traditional French food after a hard day’s exploring. Nestled along the Canal Saint-Martin’s banks, the area is also perfect for an evening stroll.

L’Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont
From Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’
(metro: Cardinal Lemoine)

saint etienne du mont midnight in paris


Finish your tour as the clock strikes twelve, sitting on the steps of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. Owen Wilson combed the whole of Paris in Woody Allen’s ode to the city, yet this church is one of the lesser known sights from the film. Home to the tombs of Racine and Pascal, you too can bask in the nocturnal joie de vivre celebrated in ‘Midnight in Paris.’

Want more walks? The Mairie de Paris has put together walking tour suggestions for cinephiles to relive their favourite movies, from ‘Hugo Cabret’ to ‘La Mome.’


France in the movies

2 Feb

French cinema is perceived as unapproachable and elitist by many non-native speakers. Yet these films often prove more popular in the French box office then big American blockbusters.

For instance, the best selling film of all time in French cinemas was The Titanic with 20 758 887 viewers, closely followed by comedy about the North of France, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, with 20 329 376 spectators.

In fact, according to Allocine, 11 out of the top 20 are French, including Le Grand Bleu and Les Visiteurs. These sit comfortably alongside nine huge international offerings like Harry Potter and The Lion King.

Most strikingly, these popular French films are nearly all comedies on a par with their Anglophone counterparts in terms of laughs. Far from the stuffy and intellectual image French cinema connotes.

So what films should a dubious newbie try?

L’auberge espagnol by Cedric Klapisch is one of the most loved comedies by the younger generation. Following the misadventures of Erasmus student Xavier (Romain Duris) on a year abroad in Spain, it paints an entertaining picture of cultural differences. Sequel Les Poupees Russes is just as good.

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain is no doubt the most popular French film with the Brits, but even if you’ve seen it before, give it another watch for Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s quirky and beautiful depiction of Paris and Amelie’s strange world set to music by Yann Tiersen.

Le Premier Jour du reste de ta Vie by was one of my favourite releases of the last few years. Remi Bezancon’ s moving film is both comedy and tragedy; it explores one family’s difficult relationships as the three children grow into adults. The film definitely has the feel-good factor but will leave you reaching for the tissues.

Persepolis is based on the graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi; the Oscar nominated black and white cartoon follows her trials and tribulations growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution and the conflicts between Western society and her own country’s values.

What films do you recommend?

Paris according to Sedera

31 Jan


Presenting: Sedera

British Girl in Paris talks to Sedera Ranaivoarinosy about her personal experience of Paris.

A journalism student at NYU, Sedera is something of a music guru who loves good films and experimenting with photography. The 20 year old has lived on three continents; oringinally from Madagascar she has resided in Paris most of her life but now studies in New York. Read her weekly musings on her blog.

What is your absolute favourite thing about Paris?

les quais, la Seine

Les quais de la Seine

I love the quais because it’s so calming to walk along the water (the Seine and the canals), or sit there to read, eat or even nap. I also love the parts of the metro that are above ground, like around the Boulevard de Grenelle and near Barbès. I like the design of the bridges the trains run on and the way you can see into the life going on around you (the train is on the same level as many apartment windows). I don’t mean that in a creepy way; I just like seeing the city flash by me.

What areas do you like best and why?

I like the area where I live, the 20th arrondissement by the Gambetta métro stop, because you can tell people live there and interact unlike the 16th arrondissement for example, which is very fancy, but in my experience, rather dull. The Canal St Martin is a very nice area as well, especially during the summer time when you can hang by the water. It’s surrounded by lots of cute places to go to for a nice bite. The food selection around there is often a bit more edgy than other areas.

If you only had 24 hours in Paris how would you spend them?

I would visit the catacombs because I have never been and have always wanted to go. Then I would visit a museum, probably the Musée D’Orsay, which I haven’t been to in a while. Finally, I’d picnic at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and finish off my day by eating a blanc manger at the restaurant Hôtel Du Nord, where the movie of the same name was set. I’m not exactly sure what the ingredient is, but they put in little crunchy things in the dessert that create a sort of firework in your mouth. It sounds ridiculous. Until you eat it. It’s delightful.

What are the most overlooked attractions in your opinion?

vintage clothing shop barbes metro

Vintage clothing shop Guerrisol near Barbes metro

Paris is known for its shopping options, but going to the Galeries Lafayette and the Boulevard Haussmann won’t really give you a selection that is that different from other capitals of the world. If you have the patience to dig through the masses of throwaway clothing, the thrift stores of Barbes like Guerrisol are full of good finds. A thorough search through the racks at a thrift store could lead to a much more unique, and sometimes much cheaper, find.

What is the one thing you like least about Paris?

The métro, as convenient as it is most of the time, only runs until 1 am on weeknights and 2 am on weekends, which always makes my evenings end early. I don’t have the type of stamina that would allow me to party repeatedly until 5:00 am, when it reopens, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a metro at 3 am sometimes instead of waiting for a night bus or taxi. Parisians also need to pick up the habit of cleaning up after their dogs.

Any favourite films set in Paris?

One of my favourite films of all time is Les Chansons d’Amour by Christophe Honoré, which is set in Paris. There’s also Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; I love the playful way in which it represents Montmartre.

What about music – any songs that you feel capture the essence of Paris?

An old classic, Jean Renoir’s “La Complainte de la Butte,” which Rufus Wainwright covered, comes to mind because it references an iconic area of Paris, Montmartre. For a more updated view, Thomas Dutronc’s “J’Aime Plus Paris” and Camille’s “Paris” articulate well the love-hate feeling that can arise towards Paris after a while. In both songs, the protagonists sing about their disillusionment with the French capital and threaten to leave, but do not succeed. The stress, the dirty sidewalks, the early nights etc. cause annoyance but it’s a city like no other; it’s hard to get away once you’ve made your nest there and its advantages always manage to trump the inconveniences.

How would you define being Parisian?

That’s a really tough question because the socio-economic make-up of the different arrondissements are so different but I would say first and foremost that a Parisian is an urban being. He/she cannot function outside of a big city, no matter how enjoyable a few days away can be. It’s only enjoyable because it’s not a permanent move. Also, an encyclopedic knowledge of the metro map, as wellas the exact places to be on the train to get to your exit of the metro stations the fastest, is essential. I always used to feel odd telling people I was from Paris when I lived in the suburbs. Now that I am in Paris intra muros, as they say, and the metro is not the mystery it once was, I feel like much closer to owning that “Parisian” moniker.

Pont des arts, Paris

People relaxing on the Pont des Arts in Paris

Do you think the Parisian stereotype is true?

If by Parisian stereotype you mean the idea that the Parisien is pretentious, stylish, unpleasant and intellectual all bundled into one, there’s some truth to it in the sense that Paris doesn’t always emanate friendliness: people seem rushed, nervous, and never run out of things to complain about, especially when public transportation employees are on strike. But in more personal environments, Parisians like to chill with a bottle of wine and have a laugh as much as the next person.

And even though there is lagging sense that being Parisian is better than being from other places in France, which I don’t agree with, I think the problem is due to the way France is represented elsewhere: unlike what could be inferred, this fancy image of Paris applies to a specific population and area. The way it is often depicted as being representative of the entire country unrightfully brings down the other regions and cities.