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Locations and Cinematographic Paris

The movie “Midnight in Paris” has a simple but deeply moving beginning.

In fast and static scenes, Woody Allen shows some “portraits in motion” of Paris, with a beautiful soundtrack by Sidney Bechet. It’s probably one of the most moving moments in the film, especially for those who have visited and are passionate about the city.

Upon returning from a trip from Paris, I even decided to pay homage to the film and also edited a video with some of my captures of Paris, in the same vein as Woody Allen. Of course, it’s just a reference, I’m not even close to the director’s talent.

But anyway, “Midnight in Paris” represented the third film we chose to guide our trip to France, in 2015. To know the other cinematographic references, visit the post The 10 Best Travel Films from France and Italy.

Midnight in Paris – A roadmap through the film’s locations

Woody Allen’s Cinematic Paris

Cinema inspiring travel

I came back from Paris with the beginning of the Woody Allen movie still in my head.

Few cities have the privilege of becoming movie characters. This is the case not only of the beginning of Allen’s film, which brings Paris to the foreground, but also of the film “Before Sunrise”.

Midnight in Paris: Opening Sequence
Before Sunset: Final Sequence

Inspired by Woody Allen, I ran after Sidney Bechet’s music, but for copyright reasons I couldn’t use it. I found another beautiful song, with accordion and a super French atmosphere, which matched very well with the images I had captured.

The video has this aspect of spying on the city, the movement of people, how they interact with the local landscapes, how the city touches people. Watch and leave me your opinions.

A guided trip by Woody Allen

In “Midnight in Paris” (Midnight in Paris, 2011), we are guided on a trip to Paris in the company of its protagonists, the American couple Gil (Owen Wilson, from A Night at the Museum) and Inez (Rachel McAdams, from Spotlight). ). Gil loves Paris and is considering living in the city, in addition to abandoning his career as a writer of film scripts. Inez doesn’t even think about leaving the United States, and for her Paris is just a tourist destination.

The film begins with some scenes in Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, at the Palace of Versailles and at the Rodin Museum, some places we made a point of revisiting in Paris.

Also read: Paris: Before Sunset on the Banks of the River Seine

Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
Opening scene of the movie “Midnight in Paris”, in Monet’s Gardens (outskirts of Paris)

Gil is writing a novel and, like the character in his book, dreams of living in Paris in the 1920s. This argument is perfect not only for embarking on a trip to Paris, but also for a journey through the history of Paris. This is how we embark to the city of other times.

The Paris of the Past: Polidor Restaurant

The argument is also perfect to show how Paris preserves its history and traditions, and some scenes recorded today, perfectly refer to Paris of other times. This is the case, for example, of the Polidor restaurant, which we also had the privilege of visiting.

Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
Restaurant Polidor these days, it didn’t even become a laundry room like in the movie

The restaurant dates back to 1845 and has been little changed since then. In the bathroom, there are still no toilets, but those holes where you have to crouch, like in some places in the East. The restaurant does not accept reservations, so arrive early.

As usual, it’s really cool to be in a virtually untouched place where a movie scene was shot. Who knows, maybe even sit at the same table as the actors in the film.

That’s how we felt at Café des 2 Moulins, from the movie “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain”. Check out how it was in the post about Montmartre by Amélie Poulain.

Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
Me and Cleber having dinner at Polidor: restaurant in the olden days

The bill wasn’t even that expensive. Two menus and a wine cost EUR 64.00 for 2 people.

It is at the Polidor restaurant that Gil has conversations with Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (who was in fact a regular at the restaurant) in his first foray into Paris’ past. In the film, the restaurant is transformed into a laundry, but the cool thing is that the Polidor is still there and can still be visited.

Midnight in Paris locations

Other film locations are:

  • Église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont: where Gil is rescued every night to the past;
  • Hotel Le Briston, where the characters are staying in Paris;
  • Saint-Ouen Flea Market: where Gil meets the lovely Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux);
  • Musée de l’Orangerie: where the works of Claude Monet can be seen, a nice tour to do after or before visiting Giverny;
Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
The beauty of Monet’s works at L’Orangerie
  • Montmartre Stairs: also leased by Amélie Poulain;
  • Parc Jean XXIII: one of the loveliest places in Paris, behind Nôtre-Dame;
  • Banks of the River Seine: where he walks with Adriana (Marion Coutillard, from the movie Piaf) or also walks alone (image at the beginning of the post);
  • Maxim’s Restaurant: the place where Gil and Adriana travel to the past of the Bélle Epoque;
  • Moulin Rouge: a curiosity is that Baz Luhrman’s film “Moulin Rouge” was not filmed in the actual location;
  • Shakespeare and Company Bookshop: also location of the movie “Before Sunset”.
Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
Characters from the film stroll through Versailles, one of the film’s locations

Finally, the film ends in one of my favorite places in Paris, the Pont Alexandre III, right where I was asked to marry. That’s where Gil meets Gabrielle, the girl from the flea market. But I won’t reveal more to avoid spoilers.

The important thing is that those who go to Paris can get a taste of modernity, the old times of the 20s or even the Golden Age of the Bélle Époque.

Midnight in Paris: Screenplay for Film Locations
Whether in the 1920s or the Bélle Époque, you can feel the history of Paris around every corner.

What is certain is that all these locations are great places to visit in Paris. Go for Woody Allen and include these cinematic places on your next trip to Paris.


Film: Midnight in Paris
Year: 2011
Directed by: Woody Allen
Photography: Darius Khondji
Country: United States (Locations in France)
Quotation: ★★★★★

Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's film has several locations in Paris

© 2015 Fabio Pastorello. All rights reserved. The reproduction of texts and/or images is not permitted without the author’s prior authorization.

Check out our Paris itinerary

10 Amazing Locations from Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris – Movie Locations

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