Anyone for film location tourism? Here’s a Top Ten of places to visit once you’ve seen the French film in question
Tracking down each film beforehand is the trick. One very good site to try is the online film rental company Volta. They have a great range of French films in their stock that you’ll fin hard to get elsewhere in Ireland. Click on their site (www.volta.ie), sign up and see how many of these they’ve got.
Even if you miss a few, each of these places were chosen for their cinematic appeal and are all worth checking out in any case.
1 – La Grande Vadrouille (The Big Runaround), 1966 – Beaune, Côte-d’Or.
Who would have thought that French cinema would have made a comedy about the Nazi occupation? The Town Hall (Mairie) in Meursault and the great room in the Hospices de Beaune (above) were used in the famous scenes of the Kommandantur. Every other scene was filmed in various parts of the Bourgogne region. Mersault was also a location in the 1970 film Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle).
2 – Bienvenu Chez Les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks), 2008 – Bergues, Nord
One of the most successful French films ever made and a genuinely hilarious one at that, the premise involved a postal worker being “punished” by being given an outpost in the rainiest, coldest department in France, where everyone has a peculiar accent. The main location spots in Bergues are the Marché aux Fromages, rue du Cocq, rue des Capucins, Place Gambetta, rue de Potiers and rue des Annonciades. If your French is up to it, you can even do a one-and-a-half-hour “Ch’ti” tour of the town through the tourist office.
3 – Les Bronzés Font du Ski, 1979 – Val d’Isère, Savoie
For those who have already been skiing in the Val d’Isère, it’s a good opportunity to bring back some holiday memories, as well as acquainting yourself with the cult “Les Bronzés” comedy series. The vast majority of the film used this ski station as the main location, as well as nearby Les Arcs. “Taxi 3” and “Grand Restaurant” were also filmed in this area – in particular the chase scene with motorbikes and helicopter.
4 – Intouchables (Untouchable), 2011 – Paris
Another unmissable classic that was a runaway international hit, telling the true story of a wealthy quadriplegic and his hired help. The Hôtel d’Avaray on Rue de Grenelle played the part of Philippe’s mansion, while the interiors were shot in the Dutch Embassy on Rue Eblé. Other main locations for the film include the Jardin du Luxembourg, Place du Trocadéro and Quai Anatole France.
5 – Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez, 1964 – Saint-Tropez, Var
An old, but well-loved comedy classic (think of a Carry-on style film with a Mediterranean flavour), there are still thousands of fans who come to get their picture taken in front of the gendarmerie in the famous resort. Of course, this town was catapulted to international fame by another film made five years earlier – “And God Created Woman” with a young Brigitte Bardot.
6 – Les Visiteurs, 1993 – Carcassonne, Aude
Although it was remade in American in 2001, there’s no beating this hilarious original adventure of Godefroy de Montmirail and his faithful servant Jacquouille la Fripouille – two hapless characters who are accidentally transported through time from the Dark Ages to modern-day France. In the film, they spend a lot of their time between the Porte de l’Aude and the Château Comtal in this magnificent city that has served as the location and/or backdrop for many other films
7 – Qu’est ce qu’on a Fait au Bon Dieu (Serial Weddings), 2014 – Chinon, Indre-et-Loire
This is the current runaway hit in France about a father coming to terms with his daughters marrying less-than-ideal partners. Although the story is set in Chinon, only two small scenes are actually filmed there. Most of the film was, however, filmed in the Indre-et-Loire department, including the Château and winery Chinonais.
8 – Camping, 2006 – Arcachon, Gironde
This Franck Dubosc vehicle is hilarious if you’re a fan of the funny man but less so if you’re not. The famous Camping des Flots Bleu in the film is, in reality, the Camping de la Dune. Apart from the campsite, the wonderful town of Arcachon also served as a location for various scenes, such as the one in front of the grocers, at the bar and the restaurant scene. Other nearby locations include Biscarosse.
9 – Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows, 2011 – Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin
While it’s not a French film, it’s a great film location. The first scenes of the movie were filmed in the historical centre, in front of the famous cathedral. Over three days, the “capital of Europe” went back in time. The excellent “Indigènes” and “Monsieur Klein” were also partly filmed in Strasbourg’s atmospheric old streets.
10 – The Transporter, 2001 – Nice, Alpes-Maritimes
A French production but mostly in English, this was a big hit for Jason Statham having difficulty delivering a package, avoiding bullets and things exploding en route. The beautiful Italianate streets of Old Nice, as well as the Promendade des Anglais (above) were used to full effect in the action film.