It was only a little over a month ago that my wife and I made our first visit to Paris, France. Obviously this amazing city has tons of history and culture to offer and its sheer beauty, natural vibrancy, and great food make it a destination that shouldn’t be missed. But as a movie fan, and in this case a huge fan of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”, I saw our visit as an opportunity to see some of the locations he chose for his film (as well as several other Paris movies). We wandered all over the city from Montmartre to the Latin Quarter, from the upscale 7th arrondissement to Les Marais, and along the way I ran into several of Allen’s spots. So I thought it would be cool to share them here, not just as another way to drool over Paris (something I could easily do), but as a chance to share the great experience I had as a movie fan.
Early in the film we get our first real glimpse into Paul’s true pseudo-intellectual self absorption as they visit The Rodin Museum. As the four are admiring Rodin’s popular sculpture “The Thinker”, Paul flexes his faux knowledge of Rodin until he is corrected by the guide as well as Gil. Paul will have none of it and goes as far as to argue with the guide. Gil later returns to ask the guide for a favor.
I loved our visit to Musee Rodin. The inside collection was fabulous but for me the true treasures were in the beautiful gardens and wonderfully placed sculptures none better than “The Thinker”. While much smaller in scale than the Louvre or the Orsay, the Rodin Museum still managed to be a favorite spot of mine in all of Paris.
In one of the most romantic scenes in the movie, Gil and Adriana take a nighttime stroll and end up on the terrace at Restaurant Paul’s in Place Dauphine. It’s here that Gil gives her the earrings and then pours his heart out to her before a carriage comes to transport them back even further in time.
The cool thing is that Restaurant Paul isn’t a fictional place. It sits right in the cozy Place Dauphine. Unfortunately due to the time of day the restaurant was closed but we did get a chance to take pictures and admire the cool setting for what was one of my favorite scenes in the film.
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
There’s a brief scene in “Midnight in Paris” that shows Gil walking out of Shakespeare and Company. It’s certainly not a pivotal scene but it shows Gil on one of his strolls admiring the city that he truly loves.
I loved Shakespeare and Company! We stumbled on it after walking around the Latin Quarter. There is such a great feel of history as you approach the cool English bookstore. The narrow aisles inside house an amazing assortment of titles and going upstairs takes you right back to the days of Hemingway, Joyce, and Sylvia Beach. I bought a copy of “The Great Gatsby” and got my Shakespeare and Company stamp on the inside. I left one happy traveler.
QUAI DE BOURBON
After Gil is picked up by the old-time classic car, it takes him back in time to a lively party on Quai de Bourbon. It’s at this party that Gil notices Cole Porter singing and playing the piano. It’s here that he also meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the film we see the street as the car drives up and this was Gil’s first taste of the Roaring Twenties.
Quai de Bourbon winds around the tip of Ile Saint-Louis. We crossed over from the Notre Dame cathedral and came across the street by mistake. In fact at the time I didn’t remember the name but I most certainly recognized it from the film. It was a great moment of discovery and I couldn’t help but reflect back on the film as we walked down the street.
QUAI DES ORFEVRES
Quai des Orfevres appears in the movie on two different occasions. One of the scenes has Gil walking along the Seine clearing his mind and soaking up the city. Later in the movie it’s here that Gil and Adriana comes across a distraught Zelda threatening to jump into the Seine.
We came across this lovely location on a number of occasions. It was a gorgeous cobblestone walk along the river lined with trees and featuring some beautiful views of Paris. When you see it, it’s so easy to see why Woody Allen chose to include this particular location in his film.
SQUARE JEAN XXII
After buying an old book written by Adriana at a riverside book seller, Gil convinces the guide from the Rodin Museum the translate it for him. The two sit on a bench at Square Jean XXIII with Notre Dame standing tall in the background. It’s here that Gil finds out that there is a true connection between him and Adriana.
After visiting Notre Dame we spent a little time in the lovely Square Saint Jean. It’s here that you get the best views of Notre Dame’s buttresses and really highlights the Gothic architecture. The park is lined with benches, trees, and play areas for children. They also have bathrooms that you have to pay to use! No thanks.
PONT ALEXANDRE III
While it also appears in Woody Allen’s opening montage, the bridge known as Pont Alexandre III is also in the final scene of the film. Gil has broken up with Inez and is wandering around the city when he bumps into Gabrielle again on Pont Alexandre III. It’s here he tells her he’s staying and Paris. He offers to walk her home just as the rain starts to fall. It’s a wonderful ending.
After leaving Les Invalides we made our way to Pont Alexandre III. The beautiful ornate bridge was a sight. Tourists were snapping photos and brides were having wedding pictures made. We walked under it and over it admiring the River Seine and the wonderful architecture of the bridge itself.
There are so many wonderful locations in the city of Paris and Woody Allen takes advantage of so many. We visited several other places that you can see in the movie and missed out on some as well. Looks like we already have our excuse to head back to what I believe may be the world’s greatest city.