Ahh, Paris… with the drama of its gothic and baroque architecture, tree-lined walks along the Seine River, and of course, the bright lights of the promenades and the Eiffel Tower, it’s no surprise the capital of France is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The gorgeous visual appeal of Paris, as well as its cultivated French style, has drawn more than just tourists over the years. Filmmakers have been drawn to the City of Lights to film on location for decades, producing movies that have taken their place as classics in French cinema and Hollywood alike. On your visit to Paris, why not visit the locations that have inspired famous films over the years and see the breathtaking sites for yourself?
Before we break down the best filming locations to visit by arrondissement, start your tour by watching the 2006 anthology film Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I Love You). The anthology features a short film for almost every arrondissement of Paris (excluding the 11th and 15th), each by a different director and each featuring nods to the unique locations and vibe of each district of Paris. It’s a great way to get an overview of the city from the perspective of filmmakers of different nationalities. Plus, you can see how many locations you can find in your tour around Paris. Be sure to brush up on your Paris travel etiquette too, so you don’t make too much eye contact on the metro such as in the comedic “Tuileries” segment of the film!
First stop? The famous art of the 1st Arrondissement
The 1st Arrondissement is perhaps one of the best places in the city to go for your fix of world-famous art, and filmmakers seem to think so too! The main attraction of the area is of course, the Louvre, the most famous art museum in the world. Numerous films and music videos have drawn inspiration from the Louvre. French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s popular 1964 film Band of Outsiders features a sequence of characters running through the museum. Don’t try to recreate the scene on your visit, but when you’ve finished your (walking) tour of the Louvre, you can admire the Seine from the bridge Pont-Neuf, where the French drama Les amants du Pont-Neuf was filmed. Lastly, after a scenic walk through Tuileries Garden, you’ll arrive at the Place de la Concorde. The beautiful fountain in the plaza is worth admiring, but also got some screen time when Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada threw her cell phone into the fountain at the end of the film. Keep your own phone far away from the water, as you’ll want to take lots of photos!
French charm also awaits you in this 1-bedroom furnished apartment in the district of Montorgueil! The apartment captures both classic charm and modern appeal with its signature features like exposed beams and double-pane windows, but also boasts high ceilings and modern appliances. The apartment also contains many windows to fill it with light and further strike a balance. Bedroom windows overlook the green courtyard in the center of the building, while living room windows overlook a charming Paris street bustling with cafes, shops and bistros. Plus, you’ll enjoy one of the best parts of being in the 1st Arrondissement: a central location in Paris that puts you close to the Louvre, Centre Pompidou and the Latin Quarter. Of course, there are more film locations to see as well!
Love in Le Marais and the 3rd Arrondissement
Le Marais in the 3rd Arrondissement is one of the most historic districts of Paris, filled with antique mansions and stone temples from the 13th-18th centuries. In addition to lavish buildings, the modern Le Marais is also one of Paris’s most popular areas for shopping and art galleries. To take a peek inside a historic building, visit Hôtel de Soubise, home of France’s national archives. Though most of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette was filmed on location in the Palace of Versailles, the gilded rooms of Soubise were used for some of the internal scenes. If you prefer a tour of romantic history, strolling around Le Marais also puts you right in the footsteps of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the 2004 film Before Sunset. If nothing else, you’ll fall in love with this beautiful area of Paris.
Dance along the Seine in the 4th Arrondissement
The Seine is a big part of the 4th Arrondissement of Paris, with the district containing two islands and six bridges. It’s also notable for its small Parisian streets and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral on the Île-de-la-Cité. The area is such a signature part of Paris that it’s no surprise that it served as the inspiration for the set designers of An American in Paris! Though the Oscar-winning film was filmed on a set at MGM studios in the United States, the sets were designed to look like the Ile St. Louis and Quai de Montebello in Paris.
Filling the screen with color in the 5th Arrondissement
The 5th Arrondissement of Paris is home to the Latin Quarter, a significant district known for its institutions of learning and notable buildings like the Panthéon. Nowadays, the 5th Arrondissement is one of the liveliest areas of Paris, bustling with students, tourists, locals, and authentic French markets. In particular, the Rue Mouffetard is known for being a vendor of top-quality French organic goods, so much so that it served as the backdrop for the film Julie & Julia, which documented the life of famous French chef Julia Child. Visit the market for its fresh produce and you’ll see how its creates a colorful backdrop for either a lighthearted film like Julie & Julia or a more serious one like the French drama Three Colours: Blue.
Other films that have captured the lively spirit of the 5th Arrondissement and the Latin Quarter have done so through music, particularly jazz. The 2011 film Midnight in Paris, in which the main character is transported back to the Jazz Age of the 1920s, features a prominent scene in the 5th Arrondissement on the steps of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church. Additionally, the popular film La La Land filmed a scene in Le Caveau de la Huchette, a jazz club in the Latin Quarter. Since the movie, the club has become extremely popular with fans in Paris!
Bonjour, Paris! See the famous 7th Arrondissement
When people dream of Paris, they probably imagine the 7th Arrondissement first. After all, it’s home to the most iconic image of Paris, the Eiffel Tower! And, as you may expect, there have been numerous movies, music videos, television shows and more filmed or set around the iconic landmark. The Eiffel Tower was notably used in the Audrey Hepburn musical Funny Face. So inspired are the characters by the sight of the tower and the iconic 7th Arrondissement that they burst into song! Of course, the Eiffel is not the only important thing to see in the area. You can catch more beautiful views of the Seine on the cobbled paths along the river, or perhaps from a bridge—how about the Pont Alexandre? The breathtaking bridge truly captures the essence of the phrase “City of Lights” when it is illuminated at night, and its atmosphere lent itself nicely to a romantic scene in Midnight in Paris.
There’s so much to see and do in the 7th Arrondissement that you’ll need a place to stay overnight to experience it all. Fortunately, this 1-bedroom Invalides furnished apartment is the perfect place. If you’re looking to get inspired by Paris, it doesn’t get much more authentic than this: the apartment originally served as accommodations for architects of the Eiffel Tower! The apartment has since been refurbished with style, decorated with luxury touches like a velvet sofa, rustic wooden doors and a decorative fireplace to add a classy touch. As an added bonus, the windows look out onto wrought-iron railings and a private courtyard to give privacy and make you feel far away from it all. When you step out onto the picturesque Paris street with its Hausmannian buildings and quaint cafes, however, you’ll remember exactly where you are and how you’re living like a movie star!
The pulse of Paris in the 8th Arrondissement
You might recognize the 8th Arrondissement by the famous tree-lined Champs-Elysées that serves as, among other things, the finish line to the Tour de France. Because the avenue is such a bustling location in the heart of Paris, it’s the perfect place to serve as the backdrop for a hectic film. We won’t claim to know for sure, but perhaps that’s why Jean-Luc Godard chose it as the setting for one of his best films, Breathless ( À bout de soufflé). The film was mostly improvised on the spot and is a fast-paced crime drama, blending in perfectly with the pulse of the Champs-Elysées. You can visit for a more go-at-your-own-pace experience, since the area is also great for shopping, cafés, restaurants and theaters. One such restaurant in the 8th Arrondissement that is worth a visit by a film fan is Maxim’s, used in the filming of the Oscar-winning American film Gigi.
Find your own private corner of the busy 8th Arrondissement with this 2-bedroom furnished apartment rental near Gare St. Lazare. The apartment is elegant and tasteful with hardwood parquet floors, intricate molding, and a decorative fireplace around which you can gather your friends. The double-paned windows are a signature feature of Paris apartments, and can be opened and closed to help control any outdoor noise. In fact, this apartment is so classically Parisian that it is even located in a Haussmann-style building like you see in movies like Breathless! Enjoy the chance to live in Paris in a classic building, but don’t worry about safety—the entrance is protected by a modern security system and there is an elevator in the building for accessibility. Speaking of access, this apartment makes it easy to get around, being located near attractions like the Champs-Elysées and Parc Monceau, as well as one of the busiest train stations in Paris.
Choose your own adventure in the 12th Arrondissement
Proudly taking its position as the largest arrondissement in Paris is the 12th Arrondissement. Because of its sprawling state, the arrondissement’s population tends to be lighter in certain areas, especially outside of the district of Bercy. There are, however, many hidden gems in this district, and filmmakers have thought so as well!
- Visit the Gare de Lyon train station to see the filming site of Pickpocket by famed French director Robert Bresson. The station is both bustling (the third-busiest station in France!) and dramatically designed, making it the perfect setting for the crime film.
- If you prefer a breath of fresh air, explore your romantic side at the Promenade Plantée, an elevated park on an abandoned railroad track. Fans of the High Line in New York City will love the contrast of the natural and the urban, and the views from the footpaths make it quite a romantic destination. Perhaps this is why it was featured in the romance film Before Sunset in 2004!
“Hidden” in the 13th Arrondissement
This part of Paris gets a notable mention for a hidden beauty that tourists often overlook: La Cité floral (Floral City), a historic village of period homes and cobblestone streets all named after flowers! The Floral City is rather tucked away, which is perhaps why Austrian director Michael Haneke partially filmed his thriller Cache (which translates to “hidden”) on the scenic Rue des Iris.
Daydream in the 15th Arrondissement
The 15th Arrondissement of Paris is a true powerhouse—not only is it the most populous area of the city, but it’s also home to the tallest skyscraper, the Tour Montparnasse. Modern architecture can also be found at the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, a bridge that looks surprisingly futuristic for being a century old! Because of its unique look, the incredibly popular science fiction film Inception chose to shoot a mind-bending scene on the bridge. The bridge’s use in the film has become so well-known that it was even referenced in an episode of the American television show Parks and Recreation.
The universal charm of the 18th Arrondissement
If you were worried we would get through this list without mentioning Amélie, never fear: we saved one of the best for last! Amélie is notable for being the highest-grossing French language film ever released in the United States, and also notable for its beautiful homages to the Montmartre district of Paris in the 18th Arrondissement. The district itself is just as charming as the film, with some of the best views of Paris and plenty of small cafes and markets for a delicious meal. One of these cafes is the Café des Deux Moulins, the diner where Amélie (played by Audrey Tatou) works as a waitress in the film. Here, in one of two favorite scenes, she attempts to contact her love interest, Nino. The other scene was filmed right up the hill at the Willette public garden below the stunning Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
If you’ve wrapped up your day of seeing the sites from Amélie in Montmartre, you won’t find a better place to stay than this alcove studio overlooking the Sacré- Cœur! All you need to do is look out the window for some of the best views in Paris; in the bedroom, you’ll get a stunning view of the Basilica, and in the kitchen, the window offers a sweeping panorama of the entire city of Paris. Just like the sweet film, this apartment is also extremely romantic. It’s filled with bright reds and features a loveseat, a double bed and a petite dining table for two at which you can enjoy the view with a romantic home-cooked meal. Fresh air and light fill this studio, and with such a great location in Montmartre, you and your sweetheart can enjoy all the charming cobbled streets and markets in this picturesque district.
Of course, so many movies have been filmed around Paris that we’d be here all day if we tried to list them all! However, that’s the beauty of staying in a furnished apartment—the flexibility to explore the city from your ideal location and discover the places that locals (and trained location scouts) enjoy. Did we miss your favorite Paris film or another favorite spot from one of the arrondissements? Let us and other New York Habitat travelers know in the comments!