Paris : the must-see places of The Intouchables

With more than 50 million tickets sold, the duo formed by François Cluzet and Omar Sy conquered the world. Adapted from the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, this beautiful tale of friendship between a quadriplegic and his live-in caregiver leaves nobody indifferent. Memorable retorts guaranteed.

Philippe’s home

As we mention in our guide Paris of 1000 cult movies, series, musics, comics and novels locations, the beautiful mansion where Philippe (François Cluzet) lives is often seen hidden behind its imposing wooden gate.  Built between 1718 and 1723, the Hôtel d’Avaray has housed the Dutch Embassy since 1920.  It is sometimes rented for movie shootings and the funds collected are reinvested in cultural projects.  Even though in the film we clearly see a plaque indicating number 143, it is indeed at number 85.  It is open to the public for visits once a year, in September, during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

Les Deux Magots Café

Following Philippe’s panic attack, Driss (Omar Sy) takes him into the Paris streets for an early morning walk.  They sit down in the Deux Magots café and have a lengthy discussion, especially about Philippe’s wife.  This mythical café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter was a source of inspiration for another great name in cinema.  According to Vanity Fair, it’s here that J.J. Abrams and his co-director Lawrence Kasdan worked for 8 hours on the 7th Star Wars.

Léopold-Sédar-Senghor pedestrian bridge

Once Philippe’s wheelchair is modified to attain a top speed of 12 km/h, Driss and his employer are going to try out this new configuration on this pedestrian bridge.  The effects are visible as they pass the Segways.  Was it chosen on purpose?  It just happens that the bridge bears the name of the poet, writer and former president of the Republic of Senegal, the country where both Driss and Omar Sy’s father come from.

The Chaillot Theater Grand Foyer

Pas de bras, pas de chocolat!” (no arms, no chocolate !)  Driss’ reply when Philippe wants him to give him an M&M's®remains associated with this film.  It was said in this hall, transformed for the occasion into an art exposition where Philippe long contemplates a work that Driss openly criticizes.  The Grand Foyer is available to rent for various occasions.  With a surface area of 860 m2, this Art Deco room provides an exceptional view over the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro gardens.

Boucheron Jewellry Shop

It’s in this jewelry shop, the first to be established in the Place Vendôme in 1893, that Driss chooses some earrings for Philippe.  The jeweler has served some prestigious clients over the years, including Edith Piaf and even Alexander III.  Wanting to be in his role as much as possible, especially in his way to move and speak, François Cluzet met Philippe Pozzo De Borgo, the man who inspired the film.  The actor came away very moved from this meeting.

The Opéra-Comique National Theater

Beware, culture shock!  When Driss accompanies Philippe to the opera, he has a hard time familiarizing himself with the concept.  I mean, you have to admit, a tree that sings is not really the most logical happening.  This theater was founded in 1714 by fairground troupes, mostly known for their opera parodies and pantomimes.  They were successful and that’s why the theater is a “Comical” Opera.  What defines this genre is to interweave dialogues and song.

Le Nemours

First missed meeting between Philippe and Eléonore (Dorothée Brière-Meritte).  The two had been carrying on a strictly epistolary relationship for several months and Driss encouraged Philippe to take steps to meet his correspondent face to face.  But she was late and this triggered a panic attack for Philippe.  He asks Yvonne (Anne Le Ny) to take him home.  Situated under the columns of Place Colette and annexed to the Comédie-Française, Le Nemours is a veritable Parisian institution.

The Marionettes Buvette (Outdoor Drinks Stand-closed)

While Driss is waiting outside, Philippe is warned by a friend concerning his personal assistant’s criminal record.  Philippe replies that he doesn’t care and that he really likes Driss, especially because he considers him simply as a person and doesn’t dwell on his handicap.  The snack bar where the scene takes place has definitively closed since.  It was so named because of its proximity to the Marionette theater (marionette is puppet in English) just beside.  Founded in 1933, it is the largest of its kind with 275 seats.

Solférino Station

Looking for a job, Driss comes out of the Solferino  metro station heading for Philippe’s house.  The meeting will be determinant.  Along with that of La Chapelle, this station, opened in 1910, has never been renovated.  It still has the original decor, with its name done in tile work just like the direction Nord-Sud (north-south) appearing above the tunnel entrances.

The Legion of Honor Museum

The movie starts with nighttime; Driss is driving Philippe’s Maserati Quattroporte V.  Philippe is in the passenger seat.  The car goes into the bus lane, near the Anatole-France quay, starting off a crazy ride through Paris.  This museum has been open to the public since 1925.

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