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Parisian Movie Magic

Post by Jenny Bailey

For centuries, Paris has been immortalised in the arts. From music to literature, theatre to poetry, artists and writers have long attempted to capture that indefinable beauty which bursts from the city’s every pore. Recent decades, however, have seen an explosion of Parisian representation at the movies, with Hollywood’s obsession with the City of Lights materialising in a number of block-buster films taking place on the beautiful streets of the French capital. Summertime in the city literally brings out the movie sets in full force. You can come across one several times durring a holiday in Paris. Below is a breakdown of 10 of the most iconic cinematic Paris moments, and how you can make sure you stop off at the locations on your Parisian holidays to re-create the movie magic.

10. Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge, of course, takes place at the infamous Le Moulin Rouge cabaret and music hall in the Pigalle district of Paris (close to, but not actually in, the Montmartre area, as it is depicted in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical). The Moulin Rouge itself is located at 82 Boulevard de Clichy, directly opposite Blanche metro station.

9. The Phantom of the Opera

Although Joel Schumacher’s 2004 adaptation of the classic Gaston Leroux novel was filmed entirely in the UK, the action is set in the world-famous Palais Garnier, built in 1861, and home of the Paris Opera. Visit the still-magnificent opera house at Place de l’Opéra, directly adjacent to Opéra metro station.

8. Inception

Christopher Nolan’s 2010 psychological thriller has a large chunk set in the city, as Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) teaches Ariadne (Ellen Paige) the secrets of dream-stealing as they wander through the streets of Paris. Filming locations for this included le Pont de Bir-Hakeim, and various streets in the 15th arrondissement, including Rue Bouchut, and the Da Stuzzi Delicatessen on Rue César Franck.

7. The Da Vinci Code

This 2006 thriller, based on the novel by Dan Brown, featured a plethora of scenes filmed and set in Paris, most notably in the Louvre museum and the Palais Royal. The novel and film heavily feature the ‘inverted pyramid’ in the museum’s foyer area, which is interpreted as a chalice symbol, and the possible burial place of Mary Magdalene.

6. Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen’s 2010 film sees Owen Wilson as a young present-day script-writer who is transported back to the 1920s to fraternise with the best artists of Paris’ ‘lost generation’, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dalí. Filming locations include John XIII Square, near Notre Dame, and around the Panthéon.

[ Side note from Prête-Moi Paris : This film, although esthetically lovely with a perfect picturesque view of Paris, gravely lacked a reality check in my opinion, but then reality is probably not what Woody Allen was going for. Nonetheless I became more and more annoyed with the film as it gained more and more success; because fans of Paris regard this picturesque perfect view AS THE REALITY of Paris. Le sigh. Sadly, it is not the reality for everyone, nor is it the daily reality for those who do see this kind of Paris on occasion. But then…I wrote another post about that…) Back to the movie list!!! ]

5. Ronin

Starring Robert De Niro and legendary French actor Jean Reno, this 1998 crime-thriller is famed for its lengthy climactic car chase through the streets of Paris. The final scene, which reportedly used over 2,000 extras, was filmed at the Zénith de Paris, in the 19th arrondissement.

4. La Haine

Mathieu Kassovitz’ explosive crime drama follows three troublesome teenage kids (one of whom played by a young Vincent Cassel) as they travel around Paris over the course of a day and a night, getting into trouble with the police and local gangs. One notable filming spot is Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, in the 16th arrondissement, which is the location of the apartment of Asterix, one of the gang’s drug-dealer friends.

3. Amélie

Cafe des 2 moulins by Jeremy Pearson

This 2001 film showed a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, with Audrey Tatou playing the eponymous waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better. The café where she works in the film is a real place – Café des 2 Moulins, at 15 Rue Lepic in the Montmartre area – and has since become a popular tourist attraction.

2. The Devil Wears Prada

This popular American film features a fashion trip to Paris as one of the major plot points, although filming in Paris was in fact limited. At one climactic point, Andy (Anne Hathaway) defiantly throws her phone into a fountain, signalling the end of her cloying for Miranda’s (Meryl Streep) approval. The fountain in question is located on the Place de la Concorde.

1. A View To A Kill

In one of the best Bond films, Roger Moore plays Bond as he chases May Day (Grace Jones) through Paris as she parachutes from the top of the Eiffel Tower into a boat in the Seine. Bond’s jump off a Paris bridge onto the roof of a passing boat takes place on the Pont Alexandre III.

And voilà! – your own little slices of big-screen magic to make your Paris holidays feel all the more cinematic. This way, no matter how frugal your cheap holidays to the French capital are, you can still feel like a movie star as you recreate all your favourite film moments with this handy guide, for free!


  1. Coucou !!! Alors inception je l’ai vu, j’ai même pas fait gaffe. Moulin rouge et le fantôme de l’opéra font parties de mes films préférés.

    J’en ai d’autres des connus pour ta liste, je recherche dans mes DVD et je te dis.
    Là spontanemment, je te dirais Anastasia, OK c’est un dessin animé, mais je l’adore lol !

    Merci !!!

    P.S. je rêve où je viens de lire sur le côté de ton blog Dita Von teese ? j’ai fait un article sur elle hier lol !

    A très bientôt !

    1. LOL! Okay Fred! Donne-nous ta liste! Je suis très curieuse 🙂
      Et oui, c’est bien possible que tu as vu “Dita Von Teese” quelque part sur mon blog, peut-être en tag…

  2. Thanks for this great post! We’ve been working our way through some historical classics Dangerous Liaisons, Marie Antoinette, etc., but are adding these to our DVD list. PS I totally agree with you about Midnight in Paris.

  3. Nice! I didn’t even realize parts of Inception had been filmed in Paris. Will definitely have to rewatch. Can’t wait to check out some of the other spots on this list (…when the weather gets a bit warmer that is)!

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