These 10 blockbuster films shot in France

If Paris is the most filmed French city, the rest of France is far from being neglected by filmmakers. In addition to the excellent French films, some American or British blockbusters are willing to take over the regions of the hexagon.

France, European Hollywood

From Sherlock Holmes to Indiana Jones to Private Ryan, the greatest heroes meet in France.

1. Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones breaking into the underwater base, all the fans of the famous archaeologist remember it. However, this scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark was not shot in Egypt but in La Rochelle (France). On 23 June 1980, Steven Spielberg and his film crews set up their cameras in the submarine base at La Rochelle. It was then in the spotlight because a few months before, Wolfgang Petersen shot the beginning and end sequences of his film Das Boot taking place in 1941. The German director used the interior and surrounding exteriors for his scenes, including the very narrow passage in front of the lock. A friend of Spielberg’s, Petersen told him about this place, which had remained identical to its construction. This submarine base was built between 1941 and 1943 by the Todt Organization, a German company. It was part of the famous Atlantic Wall that the Germans built during the Second World War to protect the coasts. This bunker, then called the submarine base of La Pallice, named after the district of the city where it is located, sheltered the submarines (U-boots) of the Kriegsmarine. It could accommodate up to six.

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2. The Ninth Gate

From New York to Paris to Spain, bookseller Dean Corso (Johnny Deep) travels the world in search of the three books about the “Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows”. In France, director Roman Polanski set up his cameras at the Hotel Cayré in Paris – where Dean is staying – the Café Louis-Philippe, still in the capital, and the Château de Ferrières in Seine-et-Marne, owned by Liana Telfer (Lena Olin). The château de Puivert, in the Aude, is used as a set in the final scenes of the feature film.

3. Ronin

Ronin in Paris, France
Ronin in Paris

The six mercenaries have to find a very well defended briefcase and travel all over France in search of it. From the stairs of Rue Drevet in Montmartre where Sam (Robert de Niro) cautiously walks up to the escalators of the Porte des Lilas station where Seamus (Jonathan Pryce) contacts Deirdre (Natascha McElhone), Paris is filmed from every angle. In the south of France, in Cannes, the Majestic Barrier on the Croisette contains the precious suitcase, while in La Turbie, near Monaco, the town hall is in the middle of explosive action. The City of Light is again the setting for the end of the feature film, including the Invalides, for an impressive chase, as well as a skating show at the Zenith, in the Parc de la Villette.

4. Love Actually

If the most London romantic comedy is mainly set in the British capital, one of the last scenes of the film was filmed in Marseille, at the Bar de la Marine, 15 quai de Rive Neuve. This is where Jamie Bennett (Colin Firth) declares his love to Aurelia (Lucia Moniz).

5. The French Connection

La Samaritaine in Marseille - Flickr photo by Fred Romero
La Samaritaine in Marseille – Flickr photo by Fred Romero

In full surveillance of the trafficker Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), a policeman (Jean Luisi) goes to the Samaritaine de Marseille to have a drink and observe the drug baron from afar. Later, the latter goes to his villa located at 1 avenue des calanques in Cassis. In any case, this huge success at the five Oscars of William Friedkin has not forgotten France in his French Connection.

6. Armageddon

In Armageddon, Paris is totally razed by the meteors. However, the panic scenes seen in the film were not shot in the capital, but in Dinan, in Ille-et-Villaine. You can recognize the Place des Cordeliers and the Clock Tower. Director Michael Bay is also filming Mont Saint-Michel in the Channel when the president makes a speech. A shepherd tries his best to listen to this speech on the radio in this place classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

7. Saving Private Ryan

Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer - Photo Wikimedia Commons by Bjarki Sigursveinsson
Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer – Photo Wikimedia Commons by Bjarki Sigursveinsson

If the action of the film is supposed to take place in Normandy, and in particular at Omaha Beach, the beach seen is that of Ballinesker Beach in Ireland. On the other hand, the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Calvados – a must-see monument of the Second World War – appears on screen at the beginning and end of the feature.

8. Dangerous Liaisons

Taken from the epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos published in 1782, the film by Stephen Frears shot in 1988 had to pay tribute to French castles. If it is mainly filmed in Champs-sur-Marne, the one in Neuville in Gambais, in the Yvelines, is the residence of the seductive Viscount of Valmont (John Malkovich). Interior scenes come to life at the Château de Lésigny, while the medieval fortress of Vincennes is home to the duel between Valmont and the knight Danceny (Keanu Reeves). The Montansier Theatre in Versailles hosts a performance of little interest to the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close), preferring to focus on the audience.

9. The Longest Day

The Longest Day Robert Mitchum
The longest day. All rights reserved: 20th Century Fox

A film retracing the Allied landings with John Wayne, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda and Richard Burton, The Longest Day is a classic film. Between the beaches of the Ile de Ré, and those of Saleccia in Corsica, the scenes of the film were shot all over France. The famous church of Sainte-Mère-église, with its parachutist hanging from the bell tower, obviously plays an important role in the feature film, while the Claude-Debussy college in Saint-Germain-en-Laye hosts the headquarters of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt (Paul Hartmann), as it did in reality.

10. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

It’s very brief at the beginning of the film, but it’s still a scene shot in France. The explosion of a bomb planted by anarchists takes place on the Place de la Cathédrale in Strasbourg. On the other hand, when Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and John Watson (Jude Law) left for France, they went to Richmond Park in Surrey, England.

Paris is of course the most filmed city in France. In the guide Paris of the 1000 cult places of films, series, music, comics and novels, you can find the places of the Amélie, Da Vinci Code, Inception, The Intouchables, La La Land, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Before Sunset, Charade, The Devil Wears Prada, Inglourious Basterds, the saga Jason Bourne, Midnight in Paris, Nikita, Ratatouille, Three Days to Kill, The Thomas Crown Affair, Taken, The Truth About Charlie, The Transporter, The Perfume, Marie Antoinette, The Chocolate, Mr Bean’s Holiday, The Man in the Iron Mask, A Great Year and many others…

The Fantrippers Buying Board

The Paris guide to the 1000 cult places of films, series, music, comics and novels

The Paris guide to the 1000 cult places of films, series, music, comics and novels

The coolest guide in Paris!

The café of Amélie, the mansion of Untouchables, the jazz club of the finale of La La Land, the Hôtel du Nord of the mythical replica of Arletty “Atmosphere”, the cinema of A bout de souffle, the restaurant of Ratatouille, the quays of the Seine of Midnight in Paris, the secret places of the Da Vinci Code, the grocery store of January in La Traversée de Paris , the Bridge of Inception and Peur sur la ville, the addresses of the spectacular scenes of Mission Impossible 6, but also series Call my agent, Gears, Le Bureau des légendes, Sense8, Sex and The City, Gossip Girl…

Etienne Daho’s Café de Flore, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hotel in Nas in Paris, Serge Gainsbourg’s Poinçonneur des Lilas metro station, Serge Reggiani and Marc Lavoine’s Mirabeau Bridge, Mc Solaar’s Lyon station…

The places evoked in the comics Adèle Blanc-Sec, Largo Winch, Blake and Mortimer, Michel Vaillant…

But also in the novels of Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Leo Malet, Daniel Pennac, Marc Levy, Guillaume Musso… you’ll find all the must-see places of Parisian Pop Culture in this new guide.

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By Damien Duarte

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Passionné par la culture pop depuis son enfance, ses références vont de Donald Duck à Batman en passant par Marty McFly. Fantripper dans l'âme, voyager sur les traces de Ghostbusters, James Bond ou des héros de romans comme Cotton Malone fait partie d'un séjour idéal et réussi !

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