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Cinema was born in the French capital when Auguste and Louis Lumière screened their first short film here in 1895. The city feels like one giant, ageless movie set, its doors permanently open: the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame are silver-screen stars as surely as Gérard Depardieu or Catherine Deneuve. Follow in the footsteps of giants with our tour of film locations haunted by Paris’s silver-screen residents and visitors, from Amélie to 007.


Hollywood directors have long grasped the luminous romantic appeal of Paris. The Seine was turned into a set when MGM made its studio musical An American in Paris (1951), recreating the cobbled riverside walk along the Quai de Montebello for Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron to dance along at night. Even mid-afternoon a rare solitude holds sway on this charmed stretch, where usually the only sound is the echo of your footsteps.

A few steps away is the spot for a reunion between the paramours in Before Sunset (2004). This is Shakespeare and Company, a much-cherished, delightfully ramshackle bookshop where Ethan Hawke’s Jesse begins the film with a signing of his novel. The shop’s curators delight in books as objects, including Art Deco-embossed reprints of F Scott Fitzgerald. Upstairs, visitors take turns to entertain each other on an obdurate upright piano, while in the poetry corner a box labelled Lonely Hearts and Missed Connections contains tiny outpourings of the heart on scraps of paper and old receipts. ‘Mon cher Noam,’ reads one. ‘Ever waiting for the day you come back to me.’ Stroll south through the Latin Quarter, taking in the Sorbonne

The Panthéon – a Neoclassical church-turned-mausoleum – is king of the hill in this part of town. Crouching behind it is the smaller and older church of Saint-Étiennedu-Mont. The corner entrance betrays none of its cinematic status. A passer-by might perch outside to peer at a map, unaware that on these steps, Owen Wilson sat awaiting his nightly lift in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011), to be whisked back by antique car to the demi-monde of the 1920s.

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