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The best movies about Paris: capturing Paris in film

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

The Artist, Hugo, & Midnight in Paris all brought Paris to the attention of moviegoers, but these three films aren't the only popular movies that take place in the City of Light. Here is a list of some of the greatest film depictions of Paris.

The Academy Awards threw me for a loop in terms of movies. Since the time difference between my location and Los Angeles makes it difficult for me to watch the Oscars in real time, I always record them so I can enjoy the ceremony in its entirety later on.

At the 84th Academy Awards, one of the most prominent themes that were celebrated was la France. Not just because of the popularity of "The Artist," which was directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starred Jean Dujardin, but also because of the success of "Hugo," which was directed by Martin Scorsese, and "Midnight in Paris," which was directed by Woody Allen. I'd even go so far as to say that Paris was unabashedly the leading woman of the previous year. One cannot, despite their best efforts, ignore the presence of the French presence, regardless matter how great Meryl Streep's performance was or how well she portrayed the British leading woman. There is accordion music playing in the background, there are cafés, and the Eiffel Tower is sparkling in three of the best films from the previous year. And I couldn't contain my enthusiasm.

The Academy Awards stirred me some of the wonderful longings I had for Paris before I moved there. It is true that the view of life through rose-colored glasses, or la vie en rose as they say here, becomes a little less rosy when the fairytale is replaced with the mundane routine of everyday existence. After all, it doesn't matter how far you go, you'll still find that you're still with yourself when you wake up. You are still responsible for things such as paying your bills, making your bed each morning and taking out the garbage. The movies, on the other hand, reawaken those exuberant sentiments, and feelings of love, but this time with the city playing the part of the lover.

I couldn't help but grin as I saw Robin Roberts, an ABC presenter, fall head over heels for Jean-Baptiste Dujardin's French charm on the red carpet. As he kissed her hand and chatted to her in French, he made her go all goo-goo over him. It's all so predictable, yet at the same time, it's all so grounded in reality.

In his remarks, while accepting the award, Jean said, "I love your country!"

I must say, Jean, I love yours!

In recognition of this love, I've compiled a list of some of my all-time favorite movies that are either set in Paris or feature the city itself.

Sabrina, with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond (1995)

When I was getting ready to go on this journey for the first time, the night before I flew to Paris, I watched this movie. I believe because of that, it will have a unique significance for me for the rest of my life.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

The moment when she eventually goes back to the restaurant in Paris that she loves is my favorite portion of the story. The real location of the action takes place at a brasserie known by its previous name, the Grand Colbert. The picturesque view of the Seine that is shown in the movie is not available from this location.

It is, nonetheless, very Parisian with its high ceilings, waiters in black and white, silver trays, and booths situated beneath chandeliers and against enormous decorative mirrors. All of these elements come together to create an authentic Parisian atmosphere.

Two Days in Paris (2007)

This film was both written and directed by a Parisian, so it provides an excellent insider's perspective, although a somewhat overdone one. It offers a humorous perspective on living in Paris.

Prête-moi ta main (2006)

This is a French comedy featuring a very humorous French comedian as well as the daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. The film was made in France. One of the first movies that I saw entirely in French was this one. My opinion has not changed; it continues to be one of my favorites because of its humorous but accurate portrayal of life in France.

Amélie (2001)

When I was a student back in Canada, a French-Canadian friend took me to see this movie, and I distinctly recall thinking to myself, "Oh how I would love to live in Paris!" when we left the theatre. It's funny how things turn out in life.

When I'm editing or writing, one of my favorite places to go is a genuine café that's close to Montmartre and is located on rue Lepic. In the movie, Amélie works there, and it's one of my favorite places to go in general.

Coco Chanel (2008)

The last several years have seen the debut of several Chanel movies, but I think this one is the best. It is one of my favorites, and I find myself returning to it again and again. She has a tremendous deal of moxie and willpower. I would like to believe that it is the most accurate representation of her narrative to have been adopted.

Gigi (1958)

This is an old movie set in Paris at the turn of the century. It has a wonderful personality and evokes the inexplicable sensation that those who like Paris experience when they go there. If you haven't already, you should check it out.

Julie & Julia (2009)

This movie's scenes in Paris were among my favorites. It should come as no surprise that Something's Gotta Give, which was directed by Nancy Meyers and is also included on this list, was shot in and around Paris. I have a feeling that Nancy loves Paris nearly as much as I do.

It is evident in the way that she depicts the city and also the life that it provides for its inhabitants. Those who have a passion for the kitchen will like this movie very much.

French Kiss (1995)

In the year that I was getting ready to go to a high school exchange program in France, I saw this movie. I don't recall being able to speak a word of a language at the time, but I do remember being mesmerized by the images that played out on the streets of Paris. After a long journey, I made it here, and one of my priorities was to locate as many of them as possible to evaluate how accurately they had been depicted. In this day and age, I find that I often stroll by them without even giving them a second thought. It's important to remember to look at your city through a tourist's eyes every once in a while, as the adage goes.

Amusez vous bien!



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