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10 Movies Set in Paris

posted by in Dot Dot Dot

Movies set in Paris put anyone in a romantic mood, which makes the city even more iconic and classy. The Eiffel Tower has been the star of the silver screen since French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere filmed their first moving picture in 1895. Since then, Paris has seen hundreds of international directors come to her and film her beauty as part of the plot. There is a growing list of movies set in Paris, and these are just a few.

"Come what may..."

“Come what may…”

MOULIN ROUGE! (2001, dir. Baz Luhrmann, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman)

Who could forget the stylized depiction of French Boho lifestyle than Luhrmann’s most famous film to date, Moulin Rouge. It’s set in Paris at the turn of the century and centers around the activities happening inside the famous cabaret in the City of Lights. From its anachronistic songs to its Romeo and Juliet-esque love story (minus the deaths of star-crossed lovers), Moulin Rouge still a winning movie to watch for Valentine’s Day–and with Paris in the background, it’s all about l’amour.


Celine: “Baby, you’re gonna miss that plane.” Jesse: “I know.”


BEFORE SUNSET (2004, dir. Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy)

The sequel to Before Sunrise (1995), which was then set in Vienna, Before Sunset continues the story of Jessie (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) nine years later, as they spend an afternoon in Paris. The film shows the beautiful sites of Paris… before sunset… particularly the River Seine, giving the city a different look from other films.


“At least you’ll never be a vegetable – even artichokes have hearts.”

AMELIE (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, starring Audrey Tatou)

One of the highest-grossing French films in the US, Amelie tells the story of a shy waitress bent on changing the world for the better. The restaurant Amelie works in is a real venue in Montmarte named Cafe des 2 Moulins, or “two windmills” in French–it’s as authentic as Amelie’s stream of thought: very philosophical, very French.

Alexander Dyle: "All right, get set for the story of my life." Reggie Lampert: "Fiction or non-fiction?"

Alexander Dyle: “All right, get set for the story of my life.”
Reggie Lampert: “Fiction or non-fiction?”

CHARADE (1963, dir. Stanley Donen, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant)

Romance! Suspense! Paris! The city with a lot of side streets and historical buildings prove to be a perfect location for a “whodunit” movie. It was such an effective movie that–did you know?–the audience initially thought it was a Hitchcock film? Grant starred in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and that’s probably why Charade leaves the audience at the edge of their seats.

Luc: "When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch."

Luc: “When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch.”

FRENCH KISS (1995, dir. Lawrence Kasdan, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline)

Try to get pick-pocketed in Paris–bad experience, right? Well, Meg Ryan’s character in French Kiss, a rom-com about a woman running after her fiance in one of the romantic cities in the world, gets in the middle of a smuggling mess and now she has to work with a petty thief (played by Kevin Kline) and… well, they fall in love.

Adriana: I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.

Adriana: “I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.”

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011, dir. Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams)

One of the most romantic films of this decade, Midnight in Paris stars a talented cast who play the past century’s greatest artists as they help Gil, a 21st century struggling writer who travels back to the 1920s, find the magic of Paris and regain his passion for life. The audience sees a stark contrast of Paris–during the day, when everything is ironically cold and “pseudo-philosophical,” and at night, when the spirit of Paris is alive and dancing under the dim street lamps of a faraway time.


Francine: “There are times when life calls out for a change. A transition. Like the seasons. Our spring was wonderful, but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn. And now all of a sudden, it’s cold, so cold that everything is freezing over. Our love fell asleep, and the snow took it by surprise. But if you fall asleep in the snow, you don’t feel death coming.”

PARIS, JE T’AIME (2006, directed by 20 directors including Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven and Gerard Depardieu) couldn’t have said it better: “Through the neighborhoods of Paris, love is veiled, revealed, imitated, sucked dry, reinvented and awakened.” These short films show how Paris influences the emotions of her inhabitants and visitors, both in big and small ways.


Gabrielle: “Actually, depravity can be terribly boring if you don’t smoke or drink.”

PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES (1964, dir. Richard Quine, starring Audrey Hepburn and William Holden)

Paris is a place where creativity abounds–and so does romantic comedies, both in real life and on-screen. Hepburn returns to the City of Love a year after Charade, this time as a young production assistant of a screenwriter suffering from a horrible writer’s block. The script, however, is inspired and witty, and with Paris adding to the romance blooming, the film is worth another watch with the hubby.

Hugo Cabret: "Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do... Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose... it's like you're broken."

Isabelle: “We could get into trouble.” Hugo Cabret: “That’s how you know it’s an adventure.”

HUGO (2011, dir. Martin Scorsese, starring Jude Law, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz)

Living behind the clock in Gare Montparnasse in 1930s Paris, a young orphan by the name of Hugo Cabret meets all sorts of characters as he tries to cope with the loss of his father while escaping from the glaring eyes of Inspector Gustave Daste and his sneaky hound. The film is stylized but gives the audience an authentic feel that they’re running with the actors–especially in 3D (Scorsese’s first in his filmography).

Narrator: "Although each of the world's countries would like to dispute this fact, we French know the truth: the best food in the world is made in France. The best food in France is made in Paris. And the best food in Paris, some say, is made by Chef Auguste Gusteau."

Narrator: “Although each of the world’s countries would like to dispute this fact, we French know the truth: the best food in the world is made in France. The best food in France is made in Paris. And the best food in Paris, some say, is made by Chef Auguste Gusteau.”

RATATOUILLE (2007, dir. Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava, starring Ian Holm, Peter O’Toole, Brad Garrett) 

This animated film may be for kids, but for the kids-at-heart out there, it’s about the love for food and the love of Paris. Rats will never be that cute though, or that talented. In any case though, this is one of the few films that have taught people how French food starts, how to tell if bread is fresh, and how most dishes can warm the coldest, most criticizing hearts–with a dash of nostalgia.




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