Must-see Movies to Transport Yourself to Paris
Must-see Movies to Transport Yourself to Paris
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Beautifully written by our American French Guide & Team Leader, Lola, and the wine connaisseur himself, Pascal.
The city of Paris has seen so much in its history. Whether it is waves of the plague, invasions by the vikings, or the fires of revolutions, Parisians still seem to have something to smile about. It could be something in the drinking water, but it probably is the inherent charm of the city that gives Parisians their energy. In Paris, a summer evening well spent means dancing along the river, good food shared amongst friends, and an iconic tower that sparkles every evening on the hour.
Given these standards, it should come as no surprise that the city itself is a favorite amongst those wishing to capture its photogenic qualities on film. On the silver screen, the lust for life is infectious, and is able to transport anyone to these same riverside quays of dancing people. We promise that no plague, viking ship, or revolution will have you worried, not while you’re entertained by our list of favorites that showcase the best of cinema and the city of Paris — we hope, at least.
1. 2 Days in Paris (2007)
This comedy will likely make you realize that it’s been a while since a movie made you laugh out loud.
Shot across a variety of ‘off the beaten path’ and yet iconic Parisian locations, it feels like a local’s tour of Paris, and, in a way, that’s not too far off.
Written, directed and starring the Parisian-born Julie Delpy, she knows just the right interior courtyards and family meals to leave you both enamoured and equally shocked by the true vision of French lifestyle.
2. Amelie (2001)
Charming to its core, this film became an icon the world over for its brilliant imagination and genuine heart.
Most of the movie takes place on Montmartre, one of the most sacred of Parisian locales, and brims with shots that illuminate its quaint, quirky, and unique sides that normally lay concealed.
Much like the director, it is Amelie who knows just how to bring these intimate details to light; but she does not trouble herself with the city, but rather with its inhabitants in a quest to bring happiness to others.
Whether it is the hidden joy of first cracking the top to crème brûlée or falling in love, nothing is safe from her spell; and it is for this reason that we guarantee that you’ll be charmed by her bob, smile, and endeavors in this heartwarming tale.
3. The 400 Blows (1959)
Fuelled by days full of melancholy and mischief, this coming of age story about a rebellious teenager in post-war France moved an entire generation.
This film is so iconic, it’s considered to be one of the best films of all time, and is said to have put the movement of the French New Wave on the international map.
Semi-autobiographical, Truffaut’s scenes exhale the sad exhaust of Parisian traffic, but are countered with a boy’s small dreams of future possibilities. Talk to any Parisian who grew up in the 1950s, and they will tell you to watch this film, especially if you’d like to know every Parisian kids’ dream in the famous final scene.
4. Ratatouille (2007)
We didn’t think that any list of movies covering Paris would be complete without at least including this Disney classic.
5. Midnight in Paris (2011)
If you found yourself past the hour when the reasonable have already turned in, when only those filled with wanderlust or alcohol roam the streets, and a mysterious eighty year old taxi were to appear and beckon you inside: would you enter?
Though seemingly unsound life-advice, in Midnight in Paris, the curious are rewarded with a Paris of the past.
This lighthearted comedy celebrates the magic of a city rich in history, playing well into the wonder we experience when realizing that we’re standing where our icons once did.
6. Mon Oncle (1958)
When the curious and ultra French Monsieur Hulot makes his way from the old city center to his extended family's futuristic looking life...
…the old Paris comes to clash with the new in a slapstick bundle of comedy.
The genius of Jacques Tati knows just how to capture Paris in all its absurd glory and bustling change, through the eyes of its adorable lead uncle.
Just wait for our loveable goof to start testing the durability of bounce-able vases, and you will truly understand what the French mean when they say “mourir de rire”!
7. Before Sunset (2004)
If you only had one day in Paris with the lost love of your life, how would you spend it?
Ten years after their meeting in the first instalment of Richard Linklater’s “Before…” trilogy, Before Sunset follows Céline and Jesse as they navigate life and love in the sinewing streets of the Marais, over the course of an afternoon.
If there is one movie that is sure to transport you to Paris, it’s this one: from river Seine strolls to private courtyards, and moments of tranquil life, it is a true ballad of Paris and its people.
Rhythmed by the occasional coffee break or comical encounter, this pensive film delves into the very heart of what moves two people together. What could be better suited for the city of love?
8. Marie-Antoinette (2006)
The story of Marie-Antoinette is quintessential to the story of Versailles, and over time has taken on mythological proportions.
As anyone who’s joined our Versailles tours will tell you, we are fascinated by her story, and though Sofia Coppola’s adaptation is more champagne-induced folly than historically accurate, we feel that it captures the extravagance of Versailles.
One of the rare films about Versailles to be filmed almost entirely on location, it is the closest experience of the royal stomping ground outside of actually being there.
9. Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
A classic tale of star-crossed lovers and fatal quid pro quo, this film is old time romance at its core.
With a script written by one of France’s most esteemed poets, Jacques Prévert, you will be moved beyond words by the story of Garance and Benjamin, two actors, as they attempt to keep both their art and love alive.
Made to look like the boulevards of Paris’ theatres, the film is like a dream that allows one to escape to, where often silence has more to say than words, and a performance conveys more heart than a lost encounter.
10. Charade (1963)
Seemingly straight out of a Hitchcock on his good day...
…this romantic comedy follows Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn as they race across Paris trying to solve a mystery involving murder, espionage, and theft.
Their adventure takes them to some of the city’s most iconic locations, some of which we are often delightfully reminded of when on tour.
Filled with romantic images of the city from the 1960’s, this film is sure to charm anyone by its dynamic duo and its colorful shots of a Parisian skyline that has remained much the same.
11. Paris je t’aime (2006)
A city to an artist, must be a wondrous creation.
If we can imagine the innumerable little events of life that come from all of its inhabitants, perhaps then we’d get a better idea for the subject of this film. True to its name, Paris, je t’aime is a series of love stories to the city itself.
Just as Paris is home to 20 arrondissements, so too does this movie contain 20 short films; each one of which is a vignette to one of these quarters. With each showcasing its own troupe of international actors and directors, this movie is a really sweet combination of little impressions of Paris: we are taken from comedic scenes of tourist experiences to that of mimes, and even to the inevitable tragedies that come from the pursuit of life and love in any big city.
The Red Balloon
In a city where soot clings to the buildings and colorful posters are lacquered upon crumbling walls...
…the images of a little boy befriending a red balloon fill the screen with a sense of color and joy.
Charming and perfect for any age, it is a sweet story that shows us a wholesome view of Paris, whereby children run down sunlit alleys, cause trouble at school, and live in their own little world.
The little boy and his inflatable friend stick together through thick and thin in a story that is sure to make you smile, as much as dream of its cobblestone and rain soaked streets.