Top 10 most unusual filming locations


Unusual by their history or by their location, here’s a little roundup of some of the most incredible ones.

Filming in a unusual spot

A weird idea to film in a prison or in an abandoned amusement park, but results could be fantastic. Discover ten of them !

Villepinte Prison (France) – Eva

What better to represent the penitentiary world than a real jail?  The one in Villepinte accommodated the cameras of Benoit Jacquot for the film Eva with Isabelle Huppert.  Not only did the filming take place in a real setting, but the guards also played their own roles, a real guarantee of authenticity.  More and more prisons are going along with the idea, renting out the premises provides supplementary revenues for these institutions with restrained budgets.

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Lake Palace in Udaipur (India) – James Bond Octopussy

Probably one of the most legendary shooting locations and also one of the most unusual in the 007 saga. This white luxury hotel built on a little island; so little that the hotel covers it entirely giving the impression it’s floating on the water. Jacqueline Kennedy or even Queen Elizabeth are among the famous guests of this palace with 83 rooms and suites constructed in 1965.

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Submarine base at La Rochelle (France) – Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark

Supposedly taking place in Cairo, the scene where Indiana Jones follows the ark on board a Nazi submarine was actually filmed in La Rochelle.  Steven Spielberg chose this spot because his friend Wolfgang Petersen, the German director, was filming Das Boot at the same time and using a mockup submarine.  It was kindly lent to the American director.  Built in 1941, the bunker covers an area of 3.5 hectares.  Conversion to acres??

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Ville Evrard Psychiatric Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Marne (France) - Polina 

One of the biggest psychiatric care centers in the Ile de France area, Ville Evrard includes several unused buildings of which some date from the 16th century.  Because of this- epoch films, police series or shootings for the cinema school Femis end-of-year projects- everybody finds what they are looking for, even the feature movie Polina which transformed an entire floor in order to recreate a school for young Russian dancers.

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The old City Hall station in New York (United States) – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

As we said in our Guide to New York – 1000 cult locations in movies, series, music, comics, novels, the historic City Hall station, opened in 1904, was recreated in a studio for the final combat scene and the discovery of Grindelwald.  Although closed since 1945 at the time when trains got longer and thus needed longer platforms, it is still possible to see it.  To do so, take line 6 to its terminus “Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall”.  Don’t get off the subway.  After a short stop, the train will turn around in this superb abandoned station that you’ll be able to admire.

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Six Flags Park in New-Orleans (United States) – Jurassic World

On the gloomy side, an abandoned amusement park has a definite effect.  Constructed in 2000, this leisure complex was ravaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was thus closed due not only to the destruction by the catastrophe but also to the insufficient revenues generated by the park.  Nevertheless, the site suited the management team of Jurassic World to recreate an amusement park with dinosaurs.

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House in Tujunga (United States) – ET

The home of Elliot, the little boy who becomes friends with E.T., is situated in Tujunga, California.  Up to here, nothing unusual if not for the fact that the house is built on the site of a former prison camp.  Following Pearl Harbor, the US government decided to gather in camps Americans of Japanese origin considered to be a risk to national security.  This is one of them.

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Sewers in Paris (France) – Hunger Games

In Hunger Games: Mockingjay part II, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) run away from the monsters via the sewers.  The actors actually did film in a sewer, of course cleaned for the occasion, but still very narrow and humid.  When you know that the American actor measures 1m91, to shoot in these difficult, cramped conditions was a real challenge.

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Porte des Lilas station in Paris (France) – Nox, Amélie

Mentioned in our Guide to Paris – 1000 cult locations in movies, series, music, comics, novels, this station, closed to the public since 1939, is popular with directors.  Most of them choose to film here because they don’t have the same restrictions as under live conditions and the RATP (Paris metro administration) even put train cars and a conductor at their disposal.   You can only visit on one occasion in the year: in September during the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days).

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 Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington (United States) – The Innkeepers

What better setting for a horror film than a haunted hotel?  Retelling the story of a former inn taken over by an enterprising young couple, The Innkeepers really did make a great choice for their filming location at this presumed haunted hotel, the Yankee Pedlar Inn.  According to legend, the first proprietor, Alice Conley, died in room 353 and since paranormal happenings haven’t ceased.  During the shooting, even Ti West, the director who’s skeptical concerning floating spirits, admitted to witnessing several inexplicable events: a television that goes on and off, doors that slam, flickering lights… Delightful. 

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