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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

A picture of the Moulin Rouge Windmill

The Best French Movies: The Top 10 Films Set in France

Who doesn’t love a romantic movie, especially when France is the setting?

It’s a country that’s long captured the hearts and imagination of people from around the world. 

Is it any wonder that so many filmmakers have used France, in particular Paris, as the backdrop for their films? 

From romantic comedies to period dramas, our top ten french movies will have you hooked.

Get ready to be transported into a world of elegance, charm, and joie de vivre.

Table of Contents

Chocolat (2000)

Old country road in France with stone buildings

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench

Chocolat Film Locations in France:

    • Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, Côte-d’Or
    • Sarlat, Dordogne
    • Beynac, Dordogne
    • Thionville, Moselle
    • Noyers-sur-Serein, Yonne

The Plot of Chocolat

This one holds a special place in my heart. My daughter was a competitive figure skater and she skated to the music from Chocolat.

Set in the late 1950s this comedy-drama tells the story of Vianne Rocher (played by Juliette Binoche) who arrives in a small French village with her young daughter.

She opens a chocolaterie, which immediately causes a stir among the conservative townspeople. Set in their ways they didn’t embrace change.

One of the villagers who takes a shine to Vianne is Roux, another outcast. As a gypsy Roux is also not accepted, which of course, complicates things. 

As Vianne continues to challenge the traditions of the village she finds herself almost shut down. However, her new friends in the village and loyal customers stand by her.

The movie ends with a celebration and an understanding that everyone is different and unique in their own way.

The Setting of Chocolat

The main drawcard for Chocolat is the town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain where so many of the scenes were shot.

Sitting on a hilltop overlooking the picturesque Ozerain Valley, it made the perfect location for Vianne’s chocolate shop.

There were many shots of the village and a few scenes set in and around the church.

But this wasn’t the only location used in France. Two historical villages in the Dordogne region were also featured,

Sarlat and Beynac. Sarlat is home to the famous black truffle and is celebrated every year with the Fête de la Truffe

And Beynac is a Medieval village, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It changed hands many times between the French and the British and was once the stronghold of Richard the Lionheart.

Amélie (2001)

Old cobbled street with lamposts and a pink house in France

Starring: Audrey Tautou and ‎Mathieu Kassovitz‎

Amélie Film Locations in France: there are many but I’ve listed the most popular. 

    • Rue des Trois-Frères, Paris 18
    • Café des Deux Moulins, Montmartre, Paris 18
    • Canal Saint-Martin, Paris 10
    • Gare de l’Est, Paris 10
    • Rue Lepic, Montmartre, Paris 18
    • Rue Mouffetard, Paris 5
    • Grand escalier de Montmartre, Paris 18
    • Rue Ernest Roche, Paris 17
    • Le Verre à Pied Bar, 118 Rue Mouffetard, Paris
    • Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Paris 18
    • Épicerie “Au Marché de la Butte”, Paris 18

The Plot of Amélie

It’s a French movie classic! Whimsical and heartwarming you instantly fall in love with the quirky characters.

Amélie is a movie about a young woman of the same name, Amélie Poulain, who is lonely and painfully shy.

Set in Paris she works as a waitress in a small café, Café des Deux Moulins.

One day, she discovers a small box in her apartment which she realises must have belonged to the former owner. She decides to return it anonymously, which inspires her to start helping more people trying to make their lives better.

By doing this she starts to open up and move away from being the introverted person she’s always been. She befriends a reclusive artist, helps a coworker find love, and even plays matchmaker for her father. 

Along the way, she falls in love with a man named Nino, who shares her passion for collecting discarded photos from photobooths.

Amélie decides to take a chance and pursue her own happiness.

The Setting of Amélie

Another movie set in and around Montmatre. But this time with the focus on the western district, which is more suburban.

Paris itself is split into 20 arrondissements and Montmatre is number 18.

Café des Deux Moulins, where Amélie worked as a waitress, is a real café you can go to.

There’s movie memorabilia on the walls and it doesn’t look that much different to how it looked in the movie. 

It was named after the two windmills that were nearby when Montmatre was still a country village separate from Paris.

The two windmills are the Moulin Rouge, a cabaret venue, and Moulin de la Galette, a French restaurant.

Marché De La Butte, located on Rue des Trois Frères, was called Monsieur Collignon’s in the movie. It was the épicerie just around the corner from Amélie’s apartment where she would catch up on the local gossip.

A trip to Rue Lepic shouldn’t be missed. In the heart of Montmatre, you’ll recognise some of the artisan shops. Selling all sorts of speciality goods it is one of the liveliest streets in the area.

And the score of this movie is really lovely too and well worth a listen.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

The Moulin Rouge building in Montmatre in Paris

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and Jim Broadbent

Moulin Rouge Film Locations in France: Set in Paris, Moulin Rouge, was unfortunately not filmed on location. Most of the movie was filmed in a studio in Australia. However, Baz Luhrmann does a fantastic job of reeling you into the gritty world of the Moulin Rouge and the atmosphere of Montmatre.

The Plot of Moulin Rouge

As a lover of musicals, this film for me has it all, singing, dancing and elaborate costumes and sets.

Set in Paris in the early 20th century, the film tells the story of a young writer, Christian, who falls in love with cabaret actress Satine.

Christian dreams of becoming a writer and on arriving in Paris is swept up into the bohemian culture of the Montmartre district. It’s here where he meets a group of artists and performers who frequent the Moulin Rouge cabaret. 

Hired to write a new show for the Moulin Rouge Christian meets Satine.

They begin a secret love affair, even though Satine has been promised to the wealthy Duke of Monroth, who is financing the Moulin Rouge’s new production. 

The show is a hit but tragedy strikes.

Satine falls ill with tuberculosis and in the emotional final scenes of the movie, she dies in Christian’s arms.

The Setting of Moulin Rouge

Although not filmed on location the Moulin Rouge is very much a real place. Having been to the evening show there I can highly recommend booking tickets.

I did the Cabaret Show with Champagne, and it was fantastic. 

The Moulin Rouge was founded in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller. The cabaret was known for its extravagant shows, which featured can-can dancers, acrobats, and other performers.

When I went the can-can dancers were still performing topless.

It really was the symbol of Parisian nightlife at the turn of the 20th century.

However, it wasn’t without controversy. The performers and the nightclub were thought of as vulgar and looked down upon by the more conservative of Paris society.

Montmartre itself is the hub of Bohemian Paris and attracts artists, writers, performers and creatives of all types.

Sitting in one of the many cafés in Place du Tertre (Artist’s Square) you can drink in the atmosphere, and imagine life as it was in 1899 for Satine and Christian.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Pont Neuf bridge over the River Seine in Paris

Starring: Matt Damon, ‎Franka Potente‎ and Julia Stiles

Bourne Identity Film Locations in France:

    • 104 Avenue Kléber, Paris
    • Passage Plantin, Paris
    • Gare du Nord, Paris 10, Paris
    • Pont Neuf, Paris 1, Paris,
    • Seine River, Paris
    • Jardin des Tuileries, Paris 1, Paris
    • Hôtel Regina, Paris 1, Paris
    • Place des Etats-Unis, Paris 8, Paris
    • Boulevard de Denain, Paris
    • Hotel de la Paix, 4 rue Louis Bonnet, Paris
    • La Grande Arche de la Défense near Paris
    • Rue de Jarente, Paris 4, Paris
    • Pont des Arts, Paris 1, Paris
    • 2 Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, Paris

The Plot of Bourne Identity

I was lucky enough to meet Matt Damon when I was in LA. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tongue tied. He was just lovely and nothing like his character in this movie.

Bourne Identity is an action-packed thriller which follows the story of Jason Bourne.

He wakes up on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean Sea with no memory of who he is or how he got there.

As he tries to piece together his identity, he discovers he has a set of highly specialized skills. Realising he’s being hunted by a team of assassins trying to eliminate, him he needs to uncover the truth about his past, and quickly.

With the help of a woman named Marie, he uncovers the truth about his past and his role in a secret CIA program called “Treadstone”.

In a chase across Europe, there are many twists and turns which leave us on a cliffhanger waiting to find out more.

The Setting of Bourne Identity

Although not all of the movie is filmed in France Paris does have a starring role.

Bourne’s Paris apartment is located at 104 Rue du Jardin. Although the actual filming took place at 104 Avenue Kleber, just north of Trocadero.

Gare du Nord, which has appeared in many movies, is where Jason Borne leaves his red bag containing his money and several identities in the luggage lockers. 

The Hotel Regina, a five-star hotel near the Tuileries Gardens, is where Bourne discovers his alter ego John Michael Kane was staying. Marie goes into the lobby and cleverly gets the phone records from the hotel clerk. 

And of course, there is always the background of the Seine River.

Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris saw Bourne meet up with Treadstone Chief.

And then the Pont des Arts is where Jason Bourne mysteriously disappears.

So many great locations to enjoy.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Scene from Marie Antoinette Film

Starring: Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman

Marie Antoinette Film Locations in France:

    • Chateau de Versailles, Versailles
    • Opéra National de Paris Palais Garnier, 8 rue Scribe, Paris 9
    • Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne
    • Château de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise
    • Vaux-le-Vicomte, Seine-et-Marne
    • Chateau de Millemont, Millemont, Yvelines
    • Hotel du Soubise, Paris

The Plot of Marie Antoinette

I’ve always been fascinated by Versailles and Marie Antoinette. On a trip to Paris a few years ago we’d planned to go only to find it didn’t open on a Monday.

The movie tells the story of Marie Antoinette, the Archduchess of Austria, and her journey to becoming Queen of France.

We meet her leaving Austria and arriving in Versailles as a teenage bride.

Her arrival in Versailles is met with hostility and resentment from the courtiers. And she struggles to adapt to her new life and the demands of the court.

Indulging in lavish parties, fashion, food and entertainment, she has no idea of the suffering, poverty and hunger of the people of France.

As the French revolution starts to take hold, and her lavish lifestyle continues, she is forced to flee Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

The family are arrested and imprisoned and the movie comes to an end with Marie Antoinette’s execution by guillotine.

The Setting of Marie Antoinette

A lot of the movie was indeed filmed at the Palace of Versailles.

Originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII in 1624, it was Louis XIV, who transformed it into a palace. He then moved the royal court from Paris to Versailles in 1682.

Still one of the most popular tourist attractions in France the lavishness of the palace continues to draw people in.

One of the most spectacular areas is the Hall of Mirrors where courtiers would wait for an audience with the King.

The chandeliers, the gold and all the gilded details are simply dazzling.

But Versailles isn’t just about the inside of the palace. There is also Les Jardins, over 800 hectares of land designed by 17th-century landscape designer André Le Nôtre.

There are numerous statues, pools, perfectly shaped shrubbery and fountains. 

Further on is the Queen’s Hamlet, Domaine de Trianon, a place where she could escape the formalities of course and relax.

It’s worth booking a Tour of Versailles Palace, and don’t my mistake of trying to go on a Monday.

You can also do the Tour of Notre Dame which includes the Conciergerie, where Marie-Antoinette was once imprisoned.

La Vie En Rose (2007)

Bouillon Julien - brasserie restaurant in paris

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud and Gérard Depardieu

La Vie En Rose Film Locations in France:

    • Olympia, 28 boulevard des Capucines, Paris 9
    • Pontoise, Val-d’Oise
    • Rue Berthe, Paris 18
    • Rue Ravignan, Paris 18
    • Rue du Ranelagh, Paris 16
    • Brasserie Julien,16 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, Paris 10

The Plot of La Vie En Rose

I loved this movie, probably because my Dad was such a massive Edith Piaf fan. In fact, one of the pieces played at his funeral was ‘No Regrets’.

The movie follows the life of Edith Piaf from her childhood through to reaching fame. 

We get a look at her tragic childhood where she was brought up in the brothel where her mother worked.

Losing her sight for a short period of time nothing came easy to her. 

Singing on the streets for money she catches the eye of a cabaret owner, who gives her a break in his club.

There, she’s discovered by a wealthy man named Louis Leplée, who becomes her manager and helps launch her career. 

Piaf becomes a star in France and performs around the world, but her personal life is fraught with tragedy and heartbreak.

She has a series of tumultuous relationships, including one with boxer Marcel Cerdan (Jean-Pierre Martins). It ends in tragedy when he dies in a plane crash.

Her life is fraught with tragedy and heartbreak with a series of tumultuous relationships, including one with boxer Marcel Cerdan, which ends in tragedy when he dies in a plane crash.

She becomes increasingly reliant on drugs and alcohol, and dies at the age of 47.

A reported 500,000 people lining the streets for her funeral.

The Setting of La Vie En Rose

Split between Paris, Prague and the studio, the film captures the essence of Paris during different periods in its history.

We go from the gritty streets of Belleville where Piaf grew up, to the glamour of the cabarets where she performed.

We’re given a tantalizing look at Bouillon Julien (Brasserie Julien), an Art Nouveau brasserie in the 10th arrondissement.

It actually was a regular haunt of Edith Piaf as it was around the corner from her lover’s, Marcel Cerdan, boxing gym.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the famous cemetery in Paris, where Piaf is buried was shown in the film’s final scenes.

Ratatouille (2007)

Rataouille film set in France

Starring: ​​Patton Oswalt, Will Arnett and Peter O’Toole

Ratatouille Film Locations in France

    • Rooftops of Paris
    • Eiffel Tower
    • Notre Dame
    • La Tour d’Argent

The Plot of Ratatouille

For me, this is one of the best animated films out there. And as it’s set in Paris, it deserves a place in my Top Ten Films Set in France.

It follows the story of a young rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a chef.

Living in the sewers he becomes separated from his family and ends up in the kitchen of a famous Parisian restaurant called Gusteau’s. 

He becomes friends with garbage boy Linguini. Through a series of events, ends up becoming the chef of the restaurant by controlling Linguini like a marionette with his hair.

However, things become complicated when the head chef of Gusteau’s discovers Remy’s involvement in the kitchen. And tries to expose him as a rat.

Everything comes right in the end and Linguini becomes the official chef with Remy as his trusted sous chef. 

The Setting of Ratatouille

One of the things you’re probably wondering is if Gusteau’s is actually a real restaurant. 

Whilst Gusteau’s itself is fictional it’s based on the very real La Tour d’Argent.

The Michelin-star restaurant is said to be the oldest in Paris serving food since 1582.

Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh visited back in 1948 as part of their first official trip outside the Commonwealth.

It’s like stepping back in time to another century and is fine dining at its best. You can absolutely see where the inspiration came from for Gusteau’s.

Julie & Julia (2009)

E. Dehillerin Kitchen Supplies a cookware shop in Paris

Starring: Meryl Streep. Stanley Tucci and Amy Adams

Julie & Julia Film Locations in France

    • Rue Mouffetard, Paris 5th
    • Île St-Louis, Paris 4
    • Île de la Cité, 4
    • Restaurant Deux Magots, 6 Place St-Germain des Prés
    • Restaurant Le Grand Vefour, 17 Rue de Beaujolais
    • Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie
    • Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, 6 Rue Coquillière
    • Dehillerin Kitchen Supplies, 18 Rue Coquillière, 75001

The Plot of Julie & Julia

When I first went to see this film at the cinema blogging was still not huge and was very much at the start of its journey.

It was Amy Adams’ character who inspired me to start blogging. And boy aren’t I glad I did.

The movie follows two parallel storylines. The first one focuses on the life of Julia Child, an American chef who introduced French cuisine to the American public through her cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

It shows her struggle to be taken seriously as a chef in Paris and to get published. 

The second storyline follows the life of Julie Powell, a young woman who works as a government employee in New York City.

Feeling unfulfilled in her job she decides to challenge herself by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in just one year.

She starts a blog to document her progress, and it gains popularity really quickly.

As the two stories unfold, they intersect at various points, showing how both women are connected by their love of cooking.

I recently cooked one of Julia’s classics, Coq Au Vin, and you can see the recipe here >>>

The Setting of Julie & Julia

Although a large part of the movie was filmed in New York Paris still played a big part.

When Julia went to buy kitchen supplies as part of her time at cooking school Cordon Bleu she went to E. Dehillerin. Which is also where the real Julia Child went. Established in 1820 it has everything you could possibly need, and some.

If you’re a fan of hot chocolate then you need to go to Les Deux Magots in St-Germain. It’s where Julia and Paul went on their first Saturday in Paris to order a café complet. Their chocolat chaud is superb.

Every month they’d also visit Le Grand Véfour a Paris institution. Known for its oppulent decor and extravagant menu prices, it’s welcomed many famous guests since its inception in 1784.

And last but not least, is Au Pied de Cochon. This famous brasserie was a favourite haunt of Julia’s and where she’d enjoy her traditional onion soup after a night out.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard

Midnight in Paris Film Locations

    • Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, Paris 5
    • Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
    • Hôtel Le Bristol – 112 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8
    • Flea Market, Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis
    • Musée Rodin – 77 rue Varenne, Paris 7
    • Musée de l’Orangerie – Jardin des Tuileries, Paris 1
    • Place de l’Abbé Basset, Paris 5
    • Palais Garnier, Place de l’Opéra, Paris 9
    • Pont Alexandre III, Paris 7
    • Shakespeare & Company – 37 Rue de la Bucherie, Paris 5
    • Café du Trocadéro, 8 Place du Trocadéro, Paris 16
    • Chateau de Versailles, Versailles
    • Luxor Obélisque, Place de la Concorde, Paris 8
    • Pont Neuf, Paris 1
    • Jardin de Monet a Giverny, Giverny

The Plot of Midnight in Paris

I love this Woody Allen movie as it indulges my obsession with Paris in the Golden Age of the 1920s.

Just the thought of being able to step back in time into another era fires the imagination.

The musical score draws you in too with a lovely mix of Parisian-style music and of course, some roaring 20s classics.

The story follows Gil Pender, a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter, and his fiancée Inez as they visit Paris with her parents.

Struggling to finish his first novel Gil falls in love with the charm and nostalgia of Paris.

One night, while wandering the streets of Paris, he is mysteriously transported back to the 1920s. He meets legendary artists and writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso. I mean can you imagine that?

Travelling back every night at midnight he meets and falls in love with Adriana. She’s a muse and lover to some of the most famous artists of the time, including Picasso and Modigliani.

As his time travel continues, Gil must choose between his love for Adriana and his life in the present.

The Setting for Midnight in Paris

If this movie doesn’t make you fall in love with Paris and book a trip straight away, I don’t know what will. There are so many iconic locations featured in this movie.

The Hôtel Le Bristol is where Gil and Inez stay during their trip and quite a few scenes are shot here.

But for me, it’s the Latin Quarter that I love, in particular rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève.

It’s in this area where Gil sits on the steps of the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont waiting to be transported back in time to the 1920s.

Monte Carlo (2011)

Flea markets are a big thing in France so it’s great to see Gil and Inez take a trip to Le Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen, one of the biggest flea markets in the world.

And as you would expect there are many scenes showing Gil walking along the river Seine.

One memorable scene shows a distraught Zelda Fitzgerald trying to jump into the river after a little too much champagne.

Another scene I love is where Gil spends time talking to Ernest Hemmingway about his book at Le Polidor.

It’s one of the oldest bistros in Paris and was indeed a favourite haunt of Hemmingway, amongst many others.

And finally, there’s Musée des Arts Forains, a fairground museum that hosts a party when Gil is in the 1920s.

If you’re a lover of all things vintage then you’ll enjoy seeing the old Carousel ride and other fairground amusements.

Monte Carlo (2011)

An aerial view of the ocean and monte carlo

Starring: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy

Monte Carlo Film Locations

  • Pyramide du Louvre, Cour Napoléon, Musée du Louvre, Paris 1
  • Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, Paris 18
  • Eiffel Tower, Paris
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
  • Avenue de la Porte Neuve, Monaco-Ville, Monaco
  • Hall de l’Hôtel de Paris, Place du Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco

The Plot of Monte Carlo

I have to admit I absolutely loved this movie and have seen it countless times. It’s just so easy to watch and features so many wonderful parts of Paris.

It was a firm favourite of my daughter when we were living in Lake Arrowhead. With snow falls of 10ft+ we were often snowed in. 

The story follows Grace, a recent high school graduate from Texas who dreams of travelling to Paris with her best friend Emma. Unfortunately, Grace’s mum decides she needs a chaperone in the form of her upright stepsister, Meg.

Things go from bad to worse when the trio lose their tour bus, gets caught in the rain and has no idea where to go.

Then their luck changes when Grace is mistaken for British socialite Cordelia Winthrop Scott. Before they know it all three are whisked way to Monte Carlo for a charity auction. 

One thing leads to another and eventually Grace is found out and everything comes tumbling down around them.

Whilst it wasn’t an Oscar winning movie it was good escapism. A great feel-good movie that as you would expect with a romantic comedy, has a happy ending.

The Setting of Monte Carlo

All the usual tourist locations are featured including the Eiffel Tower where the girls have to sprint down the steps to try and catch their tour bus.

A scene on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur where Meg meets her love interest Riley.

And the girls are seen striding through Musée du Louvre as part of their tour.

Filming in France actually only took two weeks as the majority of the movie was shot in Hungary.

However, the most notable Monte Carlo settings were on Larvotto Beach, Port Hercule Harbor, and within Hotel de Paris.

What's Your Favourite Movie set in France?

I hope you enjoyed my round of the Top 10 Films Set in France, and what I consider to be the best French Movies.

Have I missed one of your favourites? Let me know if I have as I’m always looking to add to my French movie list.

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