Great views of Paris never get old: how could the sight of the Eiffel Tower over a sea of mansard roofs be anything but breathtaking?
It makes sense, then, that so many film-makers have sought to capture the city’s unique charm, its magic. Inevitably, some films have a done better job at this than others. Though we’re all partial to a classic shot of the Paris skyline (cue nostalgic sighs as the Sacré Cœur emerges from the mist), the best films are those that capture how it feels to simply stroll through the streets.
So, without further ado, here are our top 5 films set in Paris:
- 1. Midnight in Paris
After decades of writing cinematic love letters to his hometown, New York City, Woody Allen went on to make one of the greatest films about Paris – or at least one of the most elegant tributes to it. Midnight in Paris follows Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) as he falls in love with the city, despite his in-laws’ complaints about the traffic and the long queues. Magically zipping back and forth from the present day to the 1920’s, Woody Allen’s camera finds the timeless sparkle and fizz of Paris.
- 2. Paris Je T'aime
Twenty different directors each produced a short film set in one of Paris’s iconic twenty arrondissements for this special film anthology. There is the odd vista of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine (naturally), but Paris, Je T’aime offers a glimpse into the city’s outlying neighbourhoods, unknown to most tourists. For us, the standout chapter is Alexander Payne’s “14th”, a simply story of a lonely traveller disappointed at first by Paris’s office parks and fast food chains, but who is ultimately unable to resist the city’s charms.
- 3. Amélie
If you’ve never been one for French cinema, Amélie may well be the film to change your mind. The quirky Amélie sets out on a discreetly daring and fantastical quest to improve the lives of those around her and to find love. Set in the historically artistic Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre, the film is full of colour and personality. The director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, uses real locations that are still open today; you could while away your days just like Amélie in Les Deux Moulins café.
- 4. Charade
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Originally released in 1963, this Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn classic sets Swinging Sixties style against some of the most sumptuous buildings and monuments in Paris – in the world. A murder mystery that draws brings two Americans close together, but leaves them unsure whom to trust, Charade offers suspense, romance, chic costumes and sweeping shots of Notre Dame.
- 5. 2 Days In Paris
French film-making tour de force Julie Delpy clearly knows a thing or two about bringing Americans to her hometown... For anyone who has toured the city with locals, 2 Days in Paris feels a little too real. From hilariously awkward language barriers to cramped apartments, this is the film to add a touch of reality to your Parisian fantasy. Regardless, 2 Days in Paris goes far to prove that Paris is one of the most photogenic places on earth.
Wanting to see what Paris is really like for yourself? Our innovative subtitling services allow anyone to see locally produced, world class theatre productions. Whether they speak French or not! It’s a side of Paris few visitors and English speakers ever get to experience, and it’s certainly the city at its best.
By Laura Day and Rhett Morgan