Watch these movies to get a taste of life in Paris!
There’s not much better than curling up on the couch on a Friday night in front of a good movie. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to appreciate quiet time at home with friends or family. After working all week, you need that time to relax!
If Paris is your thing, then you’re probably in the market for a good movie set in the City of Lights. There are so many to choose from, some good…some better! I’ve done some research to bring you a list of my 10 favorite. I’ve watched all of the movies listed, so you’ll have to trust me on this one!
1. Amélie (2001)
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, or just Amélie in English, was one of the first French movies I have ever watched. It was pretty big in the United States after it’s release, and I’m guessing that quite a few of you all have seen it as well!
Amélie tells the story of a Parisian girl named Amélie Poulain. She lives in Montmartre and works in a cafe of the rue des Martyrs. One day she discovers a box of old trinkets hidden inside her apartment, and decides to give the contents back to the rightful owner.
2. Midnight in Paris (2011)
The first time I saw this movie was just after I had gotten home to my small town after being in Paris for 6 months for my semester abroad. To put it lightly, I was not happy to be back at home, and I was truly heartbroken after leaving Paris! This was way back in 2012, and I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to come back.
The opening scene, which consists of shots around Paris with an Édith Piaf song playing in the background, brought me to tears! Spoiler alert: I was able to return to Paris in 2014, and I’ve been here ever since. But in the moment, I was so moved by the picturesque shots that begin the movie that I got really emotional.
The movie itself is not a tear jerker, and is for you if you like Woody Allen, Owen Wilson and the Lost Generation. In the movie, Wilson stars as a wistful man that aches for the Paris of the 1920s. As luck would have it, he discovers a way to travel back in time, and finds himself with the likes of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter.
I definitely recommend this one for it’s cinematography and it’s an interesting take on Paris in the 1920s!
3. Funny Face (1957)
A list of movies that take place in Paris would be incomplete without at least one appearance by Audrey Hepburn! Funny Face is a musical that takes place in Paris, and stars Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson. I love, love, LOVE this one for the music, technicolor, and the chance to see first hand what Paris was like in the late 1950s!
Funny Face tells the story of the trio Maggie, Dick, and Jo. Jo, played by Hepburn, is a shy woman who works in a bookstore when she is discovered by the fashionistas Maggie and Dick. The trio embark on a trip to Paris to take photos of Jo around the capital.
As the movie goes on, Jo and Dick (played by Astaire) fall in love. Follow their story through song and dance, and of course, beautiful technicolor shots of Paris!
4. La Vie en Rose (2007)
La Vie en Rose stars one of my favorite French actresses, Marion Cotillard. It is a biographical musical about the famous French singer Édith Piaf, another one of my favorites! It went on to be nominated for and win several awards.
The movie follows the life of Piaf from her childhood until her death. Piaf lived a full, interesting and at times difficult life, and the film beautifully depicts her story. From growing up in a brothel and the circus, to her life on stage in New York City and Paris, and finally to her morphine addiction, La vie en Rose is the perfect movie if you’re a fan of Piaf.
Fans of Cotillard will appreciate her embodiment of the singer, and the music is also enchanting!
5. An American in Paris (1951)
An American in Paris has the same kind of vibe as Funny Face, and stars Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. If you’re wondering how the French capital was just after World War II, you’ll find out in An American in Paris.
At the time, Americans were loved in France, thanks to their role in ending WWII. The main character, Jerry Mulligan (played by Kelly), is a former American soldier that decides to stay in Paris after the war and become an artist.
Jerry falls in love with Lise (played by Caron), and the movie follows their story. The cinematography is surreal, and paired with the musical numbers and dancing…you’ll want to get yourself on a flight to Paris, stat!
6. Just a Breath Away (2018)
Just a Breath Away is a French movie (Dans la brume in français) that is a little bit darker than the others I’ve told you about so far. It’s a dystopian story that features a malefic fog that invades Paris, and kills most of the people living there!
Some people do survive, and Just a Breath Away tells their story. In particular, a family with a daughter who has a rare genetic disease that forces her to stay inside a plastic bubble. I don’t want to spoil anything for you all, but in the end the girl inside the bubble has more freedom than most other people that survived the fog!
This movie will definitely make you think, and it is quite ominous if you think about what is going on with climate change today.
7. Ratatouille (2007)
Ratatouille is one of my favorite Pixar movies, and I loved it many years before the idea of living Paris crossed my mind! Who doesn’t love a good animated movie every now and then?!
This movie tells the story of a rat named Remy who dreams of working in a restaurant in Paris. This rat has some pretty big plans for someone who grew up eating garbage! He befriends a garbage boy named Alfredo Linguini, and secretly helps him become a chef. Alfredo works his way up at the restaurant and impresses the rest of the chefs!
If you want to learn what happens next for Remy and Alfredo, you’ll have to watch the movie yourself. This is a #nospoilerzone 😉
8. Hugo (2011)
Hugo is a 2011 film from heavyweight Martin Scorcese. Mr. Scorcese is usually known for his very intense dramas, like The Departed, Gangs of New York and The Wolf of Wall Street, and Hugo is fairly intense in it’s own way too.
The movie tells the story of an orphan named Hugo Cabret who lives in the Montparnasse train station in the 1930s. Hugo originally lived with his father, who was a clockmaker, until his untimely death. He is then forced to live with his alcoholic uncle, but his uncle is much more concerned with finding his next drink that taking care of his nephew. Because of this, Hugo ends up living in the train station.
The movie follows the life of Hugo and the friends he meets along the way. Plus, if you like the movie, you can read the book it was based on after! It’s called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and it promises to compliment the movie nicely! Or maybe I should say that the movie complements the book!
9. Before Sunset (2004)
This movie is part of a three part series directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The first movie is called Before Sunrise, and the last movie is called Before Midnight. Before Sunset is the second movie in the series.
In the first movie, the main characters Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) meet on a train in Vienna and begin to fall in love, fast. The movie ends with the pair parting, but promising to meet one another again.
Before Sunset picks up 9 years later with Jesse and Céline having just run into each other in Paris. They hadn’t seen each other since that fateful day in Vienna, and they both had moved on. Jesse is married with a daughter, and Céline has a serious boyfriend.
I won’t reveal much more, but if you’re a fan of romance movies you should definitely check out this trilogy! Start at the beginning, and work your way through in order to appreciate the storyline.
10. Paris, I Love You (2006)
Paris, I Love You (Paris, je t’aime is the French title) is a mashup of 18 different stories that take place in 18 different arrondissements across Paris. If you remember, arrondissement is a fancy way to say neighborhood in French, and Paris is made up of 20.
The common denominator in the movie is Paris, otherwise each of the stories are separate and are even directed by different directors. Some of the stories are told in French, others in English. Starring roles go to actors like Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Steve Buscemi and Gerard Depardieu.
My personal favorite is the story that stars Natalie Portman, but I’ll let you decide your preference yourselves!
Have you already seen some of these movies? How about all of them? Or maybe none at all?!
I hope that you all have a few movies to add to your “must watch” lists, or maybe a few to watch again! I know that I never get sick of seeing Paris on the big screen.
If I’ve forgotten any of your favorites, let me know in the comments below! I need to add a few to my lists, too! 😉