Tourism: Paris in the movies

Paris is synonymous with its cultural offerings, art de vivre and cuisine. But that’s not all! The capital city also serves as the backdrop for many films. By proposing cinematically themed itineraries, Juliette Dubois guides a new kind of visitor – the “movie tourists”.

Movie buffs, usually aged between 30 and 45… more than anything else, they want to extend the magic of cinema beyond the movie theater. A tour guide in Paris, Juliette Dubois allows her visitors to experience the city from a new angle. This young Film History graduate started out in the field of production. Soon weary of the financial and technical aspect of the business, she dreamed of combining her two passions: movies and the transmission of her knowledge of cinema. Hence, her ciné-balades (movie outings) were born in spring 2011.

Paris off the beaten track…

The principle? Visit cinematic landmarks, walk in the footsteps of directors or unearth hidden film locations. Using her iPad, Juliette illustrates her explanations with clips from films, film shoots, or vintage photographs. Visitors will be immersed in the excitement of the early 19th century, relive the New Wave, or stroll along the Seine in the company of Woody Allen. With her anecdotes, cultural erudition and highly contagious enthusiasm, Juliette engages visitors in a cinematic reverie.

Those taking part like to create a link between things they know and don’t know, between the present and the past,” she explains. We learn, for example, that the Place de l’Opera was the setting for the first special effect (the substitution) invented by Méliès. A total of six tours are offered. “Paris Lumière” explores cinema’s beginnings; “Walk of Fame” takes visitors on the trail of stars and glamor, and the “Truffaut” tour will delight more knowledgeable movie aficionados. Still, the “Midnight in Paris” tour, in the heart of the Latin Quarter, remains a favorite with tourists.

Movie tourism: a recent phenomenon

The Paris tourism office considers that movie tourism began to develop in 2006 with the film Amelie followed by Moulin Rouge, but the Da Vinci Code permanently established the trend. Movie Tour agencies subsequently flourished. “The Japanese make the trip just to visit the Midnight in Paris locations”. Juliette Dubois observes the same thing: “American tourists come to the capital solely to see it from the perspective of François Truffaut.”

According to Dominique Pagès, Senior lecturer at Celsa (communications and journalism school in Paris), this development has a bright future. It fits into a more comprehensive approach to rediscovering an area using digital tools (augmented reality, applications, fictionalization of reality etc.). “These outings make it possible to decentralize the gaze, presenting the area in a less stereotypical manner. The imagination becomes the driving force of the tour.” So, ready to pass onto the other side of the screen?


 >> “Ciné-balades” (Movie Tours) on Saturdays and Sundays
Reservations and programs on the website (€12)

 >> See also:
The free Cinemacity application with 18 tours in French, English and German.
17 cinematic itineraries available to download free of charge on the Mairie de Paris website



Film shoots in the Paris region!

A world capital for cinema for the number of movie theaters and movies screening in cinemas, the Paris region continues to attract filmmakers. A total of approximately 1,400 film shoots (commercials, TV dramas, documentaries, short and feature films) chose locations in Ile-de-France in 2013, including 935 in Paris.

Highly sought after châteaux

We are seeing an increase in the number of foreign shoots, particularly at Versailles and Fontainebleau, but also in more unusual locations such as the La Roche-Guyon troglodyte château or buildings in Noisy-le-Grand for Hunger Games 3,” remarks Yann Marchet of the Ile-de-France Film Commission. In Paris, Montmartre and the Pont Alexandre III are still the star attractions. The filmmakers are mostly French, followed by American and Chinese filmmakers, but the Taiwanese, Japanese and Indians also like filming here. Recently, those walking around Paris may have spotted the director Wong Kar-Wai, Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis or Catherine Zeta-Jones (in Red 2).

Financial support for filmmakers

Faced with fierce competition from cities like Berlin or London, the Paris region boasts some real advantages. In 2012, it set up the Cité du Cinéma studios (Saint-Denis) under the aegis of Luc Besson. Moreover, apart from the natural settings, technical expertise and ability to facilitate conditions for film shoots, the greatest selling point is the tax credit – well worth the effort when one takes into account how cinema extends its influence beyond borders. It represents a significant boon to tourism and heritage preservation (for example, the fee for a day of filming in Versailles costs €15,000 HT). A virtuous circle indeed, zealously guarded by the region.