Top 7 Cinematic Locations to Visit in Paris

Like A Local Guide • 11 Dec, 2014

They say walking through Paris is like being on a film set. Let’s face it – the French capital is the city of love, light and, of course, cinema. From classics such as Hôtel du Nord (1938) to recent titles like Hugo (2011), the streets that traverse its 20 arrondissements all have stories to tell. Travel writers Josie Sampson and Marta López made a neat little video called #FilmTripping, which invites you to explore the beauty of Paris across seven cinematic locations. Check it out and see how many you recognise!

FilmTripping Paris by Expedia

1. Shakespeare and Company: A literary institution in Paris

shakespeare_and_company_parisPhoto credit: Olatz eta Leire

Shakespeare and Company is the most famous bookshop in the French capital and a real local institution. Set in the heart of Paris just opposite Notre-Dame (37 Rue Bûcherie), it was founded by American expatriate George Whitman. It’s one of the most photographed bookstores in the world and this is, without a doubt, because famous directors have used it as a setting for their films. Some great examples are Midnight in Paris (2011) and Before Sunset (2004) – do you remember when Céline and Jesse met nine years after their initial encounter?

Nearest RER B and C station: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame

2. Pont Neuf: The oldest bridge in town

pont_neuf_parisPhoto credit: Giorgio Galeotti

It literally means “new bridge“ in French, but in fact it’s the oldest bridge in Paris, standing across the river Seine. Pont Neuf sets the love story between a street artist (Juliette Binoche) and a homeless man (Denis Lavant) in the film Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991). Director Leos Carax apparently wanted to block off the bridge to the public for three months…

Nearest station: Métro Pont Neuf

3. Île de la Cité: Paris point zero


Photo credit: Alainlm

This charming natural island in the middle of the river Seine is actually point zero – the official centre of Paris. Apart from the main sights such as Notre-Dame, Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle, there’s something else travellers shouldn’t skip: The UNESCO World Heritage-listed banks of the river Seine. Many films have been shot here, one of the most famous ones being Midnight in Paris (2011). Who doesn’t remember Gil and Adriana walking along the Quai des Orfèvres?

Nearest station: Métro Île de la Cité

4. Moulin Rouge: Home of the French can-can


Photo credit: Olivier Bruchez

It’s difficult to think of a specific number of movies that have been filmed at the world-famous Moulin Rouge. In any case, there’s no doubt that we all remember the romantic musical Moulin Rouge! (2001), which tells the story of an English poet who falls in love with the terminally ill star of the cabaret. Not too far from here there’s another cinematic location that attracts tourists and locals all throughout the year. Café des Deux Moulins (15 Rue Lepic) is that charming café where the sweet Amélie Poulain worked. If you fancy seeing another location chosen by Jean Pierre Jeunet, make your way to Marché de la Butte (56, Rue des Trois Frères).

Nearest stations: Métro Pigalle and Blanche

5. Canal Saint-Martin: A cool area in northeastern Paris


Photo credit: Jean & Nathalie

Canal Saint-Martin is a bohemian area in northeastern Paris. This is where director Jean Pierre Jeunet filmed Amélie throwing little stones into the water. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001) wasn’t the only movie set on the banks of the canal. In 1938 Hôtel du Nord was set on these very streets, capturing the harmony of pre-war Parisian society. Today Canal Saint-Martin is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic when the sun is shining. If you’re looking for chic bars and very local bistros, this area won’t disappoint you!

Nearest stations: Métro Stalingrad, République, Goncourt, Jaurès and Oberkampf

6. Belleville: A dizzying array of cultures


Photo credit: La Citta Vita

Belleville has always been a working-class neighbourhood, which is probably one of the reasons why it attracts so many artists looking for cheap ateliers. Spanning a hill, the “beautiful town” offers amazing views of the city from Parc de Belleville (there’s no metro stop for this park, so your best bet is to get off at Pyrénées). These streets have also been the setting for movies like The Bourne Identity (2002) in which Matt Damon surprised viewers by driving a red Mini Cooper down the steps of the narrow Passage Plantin.

Nearest stations: Métro Belleville, Pyrénées and Jourdain.

7. Trocadéro: The best panoramic views of Paris


Photo credit: Marco Bellucci

Place du Trocadéro is another eternal cinematic location in the history of film. The old Cinémathèque Française was the location chosen by Bertolucci for The Dreamers (2003), a story based on the student riots of 1968. This isn’t the only film offering views from Place du Trocadéro. One of the vignettes from Paris Je T’aime (2006) takes place around this charming area, making us fall in love with the city all over again…

Nearest station: Métro Trocadéro

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in Paris
Where locals like to eat in Paris
Where locals like to party in Paris

Special tip: For a more authentic Paris experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

Opening photo credit: Austin Beeman

Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

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