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France in film – legendary locations in iconic movies

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Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte,

France has huge allure for movie producers, let alone actors lucky enough to film here says Joanna Leggett…

Seduced by wonderful architecture, beautiful cities and towns, glorious and wonderful light, France provides the perfect movie location. Add in the glorious golden light of Provence. Seascapes perfect for Bond girls.Mountains for feats of bravado and derring-do. Châteaux providing the most romantic of setting. France deserves its own billing!

Then there’s the food – and wine – that every film shot in France seems to focus upon at some stage. The 100 foot Journey with Helen Mirren shot in Saint-Antonine-Noble-Val, Midi Pyrénées, was all about cuisine and a restaurateur’s quest for an elusive second Michelin star!

Perhaps the attraction of France as a movie location came when French films started to be shown overseas in the 50’s and 60’s. I mean just look what Brigitte Bardot did for St Tropez in 1956 with And God created Woman. In 1964, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (filmed in Normandy) launched the career of Catherine Deneuve with her luminous beauty, and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards in the USA.

Iconic films featuring Paris

Montmartre, Paris

Audrey Hepburn enchanted us in several movies, including the iconic Charade – a love story set in Paris featuring Cary Grant. Her stunning apartment, beside the Parc Monceau, is actually a museum. The Jardins des Champs Elysées and the Palais Royale also feature. As well as a bateau mouche along the Seine by night. It’s the perfect introduction to this wonderful city – with timeless Givenchy couture to boot.

In the wonderfully quirky Amélie with Audrey Tatou, Paris, and Montmartre in particular, was almost a character in its own right. La Vie en Rose included a visit to Edith Piaf’s favourite restaurant, Julien, an Art Nouveau brasserie in the 10th arrondissement. And, while we’re talking Parisian bistros, La Renaissance in the 18th has featured in almost a dozen films. The list includes Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as well as Stuntwoman starring the late, great, Jean Paul Belmondo.

Then there’s Le Grand Vefour restaurant in rue du Beaujolais, where time seems to have been suspended since the 19th century. It’s been frequented by everyone from Bonaparte to Coco Chanel. It played its part in the film Coco before Chanel as well as in Midnight in Paris, which spotlights a veritable smorgasbord of gorgeous Paris locations.

Time for Action!

Marseille docks where fishermen sell their catch

Time to move south to Marseille. Perhaps first put on the entertainment map by Alexandre Dumas who set the Count of Monte Cristo in the Château d’If, on a rocky island off the coast. In 1971, Marseille was the location for The French Connection starring Gene Hackman. A few years later, also speeding through Marseille’s streets, was Luc Besson’s action comedy Taxi, where a pizza delivery boy raced around with reckless abandon! And in Love Actually, Le Bar de la Marine in Marseille is where Colin Firth’s character proposes to Aurelia.

Meanwhile the world’s favourite spy 007 had many visits to France. Sean Connery’s Bond visited Cap d’Antibes during Diamonds are Forever. Various locations along the French Riviera have featured. Who can forget the motorcycle chase between Bond and the SPECTRE baddies with stunning scenery courtesy of Menton and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Other Bond locations include the magnificent chateau at Vaux le Victome (just an hour south of Paris) in Moonraker. He also visited the stables at Chantilly. Moving on a few years Pierce Brosnan got up to all sorts of hair raising tricks along the Riviera. Then he dodged real life avalanches during extreme skiing in Argentière near Chamonix. Connery, a confirmed Francophile, even bought a magnificent villa overlooking Nice!

The south of France in film

Bonnieux, Provence

Long after the book A Year in Provence first enticed readers to the joys of southern France, echoes of Peter Mayle’s prose linger. One of his later books was the basis of A Good Year filmed in the Luberon close to where Mayle and director, Ridley Scott, had homes. Locations included the Château la Canorgue in Bonnieux, Cucuron and Gordes where Russell Crowe waited at table.

Hugh Jackman trekked to freedom in Les Miserables around the beautiful village of Gourdon. Those incredible views out to the Med!

After Pride and Prejudice many women waited a long time for Colin Firth to dive into another lake. He did – in the Var, just outside Vadauban, for Love Actually. However one of the more memorable films made around here must be Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. It starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, who met her Prince in the south of France while attending the Cannes Film Festival. The famous film fest is a chance for the great, the good and many wannabe’s to hobnob and promote their offerings each May.

5 stunning locations which have featured in famous films and where you may find your dream home:

Sarlat, Dordogne

Ridley Scott’s first film Les Duellistes, was shot in Dordogne, in particular between Les Eyzies and the beautiful medieval town of Sarlat. Homes for sale in Dordogne

Brittany: Back in the ‘50’s Monsieur Houlot (aka Jacques Tati) famously dipped his toes in the sea on the coast of Morbihan. Meanwhile Kirk Douglas flexed his muscles in the Vikings at Fort la Latte, Cap Frehel Cotes d’Armor. Homes for sale Brittany.

Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Dunkirk was filmed largely on location on the beaches of Dunkirk in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The closest area to the UK, separated by just 21 miles of English Channel, Pas-de-Calais offers the quintessential French lifestyle. Homes for sale Pas-de-Calais

Good enough for Bond: Chamonix in Haute-Savoie is close to where The World Is Not Enough was filmed. This area really does have star quality. Homes for sale in Haute-Savoie.

Chocolat, the deliciously romantic film based on Joanne Harris’s book of the same name featured Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, Cote d’Or, in Burgundy. And though the chocolate shop doesn’t exist in real life, the area offers a sweet taste of the good life in France… Homes for sale in Burgundy

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