In spring, your mind may begin to wander because of the warm breezes. It’s the time when our minds wake up from the cold, and we stretch our imaginations to a new encounter or to spending time with the people we love. To welcome this spring, one place in particular is strongly recommended for those who want to experience somewhere new. It is Paris, a city used as the setting for many films where the main theme involves “love”.
Paris is a famous travel destination around the world and is also popular as a filming location. Because no other place can imitate the unique romantic mood of Paris, directors who try to capture this mood in their films are continuously drawn to this place.
Where are the romantic places located in Paris? What stories are hidden in these places? If you’re ready to experience the much-loved city, let’s leave for the charming scenery of Paris with PATH right now!
Recommended PATH route for romantic Paris
Even though every part of Paris is like a scene from a film, this alley is the typical Parisian background commonly seen in films. You can either follow the course of each film, or visit each place as you encounter it on your route.
<Following the films>
Midnight in Paris (Notre Dame de Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie)
Paris, I Love You (Eiffel Tower, Montmartre)
Paris Follies (Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe)
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (Seine River, Pont Neuf)
Phantom of the Opera (Palais Garnier)
Montmartre – Palais Garnier – Notre Dame de Paris – Seine River – Pont Neuf – Musée de l’Orangerie – Champs-Élysées – Arc de Triomphe – Eiffel Tower
Midnight in Paris, 2011
Director: Woody Allen / Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni
A novelist visiting Paris travels back to the 20th century while taking a walk late at night and encounters historical figures such as Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and more. Although the 1920s Paris setting is slightly unrealistic, you can still get a feel for Paris in the past through this film. However, if you visit Paris, you may understand the reason for this crazy reimagining of history. Walking along the streets in Paris at night, you will subconsciously stretch your imagination. “Midnight in Paris” not only won the 69th Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay and 84th Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but was also the opening film at the 64th Cannes International Film Festival.
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris
The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris is located on Île de la Cité on the Seine River (La Seine) crossing Paris and is the most famous cathedral in the world, made famous by the book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. A masterpiece of 12th-century Gothic architecture, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris has huge historical significance due to events such as the coronation of Napoleon, and has hosted many national events since then.
As it is always jam-packed with people, the interior of the cathedral is full of curators trying to protect the important cultural assets, which can detract from the experience slightly. However, despite this, you will soon be immersed in the sacred and delicate beauty of the splendid stained glass. The sound of the bells ringing every hour is the highlight of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.
Located in the square in front of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris is Point Zéro des Routes de France, the starting point for measuring the distance between Paris and other French cities. Because there is a popular belief that you’ll come back to Paris if you throw coins into the point, you can throw some coins in for amusement and for the memories.
Tip: You can also meet Bouquinistes on the street on your way to the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. The history of these merchants who sell second-hand books or LPs along the Seine is well over 100 years long. A Bouquiniste is also how the main character of the film finds his diary.
Musée de l’Orangerie
Musée de l’Orangerie, which is located at one side of the Jardin des Tulleries, is very neat and small compared to the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay. Nevertheless, the reason why the Musée de l’Orangerie is popular is that it exhibits “Water Lilies (Nymphéas)” by the famous artist Claude Monet. When you appreciate the picture which extends along the wall, you will be overwhelmed by its size and mysterious colours.
Apart from the artwork of Monet, Musée de l’Orangerie also exhibits artwork mainly from impressionists and post-impressionists such as Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Renoir, Picasso, and more. You will have a hard time tearing yourself away from these attractive artworks, so you should visit when you can give yourself plenty of time.
Tip: If you have time, you should visit Giverny on the outskirts of Paris. Giverny, the location of Monet’s house and garden, is 30 minutes away from Paris by car, and 1 hour away from it by train. In the film, it is the place where the main character asks his girlfriend whether she would like to live there while they stroll around Monet’s house.
Paris, I Love You, 2006 (Paris, je t’aime, 2006)
Director: Olivier Assayas, Frederic Auburtin etc. / Cast: Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, etc.
An anthology film filmed by 20 of the top directors in the world, ‘Paris, I Love You’ contains eighteen episodes where the themes are everyday life and love in Paris and the settings are downtown attractions in the city. Of the eighteen episodes, director Sylvain Chomet covers a lonely mime artist’s love set in the Eiffel Tower and another director Bruno Podalydes covers the story of a man who meets his destiny while parking his car in a narrow Montmartre alley.
Eiffel Tower (La tour Eiffel)
If you hear “Paris”, you will immediately think of its representative architecture, the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was designed by architect Gustave Eiffel in 1889 and was erected to commemorate the centenary year of the French Revolution and as the entrance arch for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. Although it is familiar to us through pictures, advertisements, or models, your heart will be filled when you face the Eiffel Tower in person. Especially, admiring the thousands of dazzling lights of the Eiffel Tower in the evening may be the zenith of travel in Paris.
The scene of “Paris, I Love You” set by the Eiffel Tower covers the fateful love story of the mime artist. Even though there are no lines in the film due to the character being a mime artist, you can feel that the expression of love is doubled by the Eiffel Tower setting. If you want to direct scenes in a film, you should prepare your imagination for a small firework.
Tip: Do you want to admire the Eiffel Tower further? In Palais de Chaillot on the opposite site of the Trocadéro from the Eiffel Tower, you can have your picture taken with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Boarding one of the ‘Bateaux-Mouches’ and looking at the Eiffel Tower can be an even more special experience.
Since the alleys are narrow and there aren’t enough parking spaces in Paris, in most cases, a slight contact between the front car and the rear car may be tolerated. Director Bruno Podalydes used this aspect of everyday life of Paris for making his film and revealed it through the Montmartre episode of “Paris, I Love You”.
Montmartre, meaning ‘mountain of the martyr’ is known as a hideout for free-spirited artists, and if you climb up following its meandering alleys to the highest place in Paris, you can look out over downtown Paris.
Another attraction near Montmartre is the Moulin Rouge. This place with the meaning of “red mill” is a famous dance hall in Montmartre and the French cancan made its debut here. The Moulin Rouge has nothing to see in the daytime, but it has big red neon signs which attract everyone’s attention at night.
Tip: There are many gypsies begging on the route up Montmartre. They ask tourists for money, and if you do not want to be involved with them, you should ignore them and quicken your steps.
Paris Follies, 2014 (La ritournelle, 2014)
Director: Marc Fitoussi / Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Bridget and Javier are a couple who manage a ranch in Normandy. Bridget, who is a dreamer with a girlish mind, gets tired of her daily life with her gruff husband Javier. One day, she meets an attractive young man by chance and leaves for Paris to meet him on the pretext of treating her skin disease. A film that makes you realise that the person next to you is precious, filled with the romantic scenes of Paris.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
The Champs-Élysées, made familiar to us by the song “Les Champs-Élysées”, continues from Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle, home of the Arc de Triomphe. There are trees packed on both sides of the extended streets, and cafés, theatres and splendid shop windows of famous brands attract tourists’ attention. Because of this, the French are confident that the Champs-Élysées is the most beautiful street in the world. If you like shopping, you will end up spending more time here than you expected, so you should set aside plenty of time to visit.
Arc de Triomphe
Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is lit from behind, showing off its figure from a distance. The surroundings of the Arc de Triomphe spread out in a star shape. If you want to see all this at once, you should climb up to the observatory of the Arc de Triomphe. Although you may get exhausted from climbing up the spiral staircase, in the end, you can see scenery that you can’t see on the ground. Along with the radial road, you can also see the orderly scenery of Paris, which is a little bit different from the scene when you look down from Monmartre. The Arc de Triomphe and La Grande Arche de la Defense are lined up straight, so you can visit La Grande Arche de la Defense to have even more fun.
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf,1991
Director: Leos Carax / Cast: Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant
This film tells the story of Michelle, who wanders the street and paints, and Alex, who meets and falls in love with Michelle while sleeping rough on the closed Pont-Neuf Bridge. Although Michelle loses her sight, their love is still passionate and intense. “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf”, set on one of the many bridges along the Seine, Pont-Neuf and its surroundings, was filmed by a director from Paris, so you can feel the unique mood of Paris more deeply.
Seine River (La Seine)
The Seine traverses northwestern France and passes through Paris. Although it is a representative attraction of romantic Paris, in reality, it looks different from the beautiful river in films due to its narrow flow and dirty water. Nevertheless, it still has romance and beauty for some unaccountable reason. This may be due to the quiet buildings extending along the river and the lovely couples strolling on the riverbanks.
The Bateaux-Mouches mentioned earlier is one of the ways that you can feel the surroundings of the Seine to their core. It would be better to be with the person you love, but if you are alone, how about waiting for your destiny on a cruise? Before boarding the boat, you should buy a bottle of wine and suggest sharing a drink with the person sitting next to you, if they catch your eye.
Although its name means “New Bridge”, it is the oldest bridge in Paris. After the film “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf” was released, it became a place for couples to pass the time. As you can tell from the name of the film, the Pont Neuf was the place that the two main characters meet each other for the first time and smiling, meet again three years after breaking up. Unfortunately, the filming took place in a studio, not on the real bridge, but the lingering imagery and romance from the film still belong to the actual Pont Neuf.
Tip: If you want to promise eternal love with your love, you should go to the Bridge of the Arts (Pont des Arts).
Phantom of the Opera, 2004
Director: Joel Schumacher / Cast: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum
In 1860, at the Palais Garnier in Paris, one day, a stage setting suddenly collapsed and rumors about the ‘phantom of the opera’ started circulating. Becoming the new main character of the opera, Christine makes her performance a huge success, but she meets the “phantom” right after this and, being possessed, disappears with him into an underground world. The film version of the musical, which was a remake of the novel by Gaston Leroux, an author of detective fiction, portrays the love triangle of the phantom, Christine, and her childhood friend, Raoul, set in both the opera house and its dark underground world.
Palais Garnier (Opéra Garnier)
Built in the time of Napoleon III, this is an opera house which presents both opera and ballet. It was the largest opera house in the world at that time, and was named after the architect Charles Garnier.
There are three reasons why the Palais Garnier is special. The first is Chagall’s painting on the ceiling of the opera hall. The second is the Grand Foyer, with its gold colour, murals, and paintings on the ceiling; and the last reason is the magnificent Grand Staircase. All of the three are coloured in gold, thereby giving them unity and a splendid, magnificent feeling. Also, Garnier was known to consider the Chandelier as being a special feature. Looking at Chagall’s painting on the ceiling and the Chandelier together, it feels as if the phantom might appear suddenly from behind the curtain.
Thus, it is not difficult to feel like the main character at the Palais Garnier, which is worthy to be used as the setting for the film. You can take a picture of yourself with the splendid interior of this building in the background to feel like you are the main character of the opera.
“The morning is beautiful, the afternoon is attractive, the evening is enchanting, and the night is magic in Paris.” (From “Midnight in Paris”)
Paris is a city making you imagine romance all day along. Maybe that is why many artworks use Paris as their backdrop. If you plan to travel to Paris, you should watch the films introduced earlier, or other films set in Paris beforehand. Together with these memorable scenes, you will become the main character of the film while travelling through Paris, and your journey will be particularly memorable.
Writing/Photos Kyu Sun Jang, Writer
Source of photos: Wikipedia (russavia, CaptainHaddock, Nico Paix)
Montmartre: 18e Arrondissement, 75018
Palais Garnier: 8 Rue Scribe, 75009
Notre Dame de Paris: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004
Pont Neuf: 1er Arrondissement, 75001
Musée de l’Orangerie: Jardin Tuileries, 75001
Champs-Élysées: Avenue des Champs-Élysées 75008
Arc de Triomphe: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008
Eiffel Tower (La tour Eiffel): Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007