These movies will have looking and booking your trip to France!
1. An American in Paris
You cannot get anymore classic than An American in Paris. The 1951 film is something that needs to be watched for the love of Paris as much as is does for the acting and dancing. It has Gene Kelly, you guys. He stars as Jerry Mulligan, a former American GI who remains in Paris after the war with dreams of becoming a painter. In true French style, he falls for the gamine Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). The musical really is as pretty as a picture.
The 2011 movie Hugo takes us back to 1930s Paris. The title character, poor Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) only has his uncle. The boy lives in the walls of a train station and he is responsible for maintaining the clocks. Of course, Hugo is more interested in a notebook his late dad left him. This leads him on an adventure where we get to see plenty beyond the inside workings of clocks. The fantasy is directed by Martin Scorsese and features a younger, beret-clad Chloë Grace Moretz as Hugo’s sidekick.
3. Funny Face
Funny Face is a film that needs to be on must-watch lists of Audrey Hepburn, France and fashion fans. It’s a classic that gets better with age. The 1957 film is a musical and comedy that sees NYC fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) captivated by the beauty of bookstore employee Jo Stockton (Audrey). He sees major modeling potential and convinces her to go with him to France. There are lots of photos, lots of couture and lots of Paris landmarks. C’est magnifique.
4. Julie and Julia
We’re going to be straight up and tell you that half of Julie and Julia is set in New York and the other half is set in Paris. But, the story flips back and forth and you will still feel you’ve got beaucoup French culture by the end. The story looks at famed cook Julia Child (Meryl Streep) exploring the art of French cooking in its motherland. Her story is interspersed with Julie Powell’s (Amy Adams). Julie is frustrated with life and embarks on a goal of cooking all 524 recipes in Julia’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It’s definitely a film for the foodies.
No, Gigi has nothing to do with Gigi Hadid in Paris Fashion Week. The film is from 1958 and is another classic Old Hollywood musical set in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. It’s inspired by the 1941 novella of the same name and looks at playboy Gaston (Louis Jourdan) who is helping his friend Gigi (Leslie Caron) learn the ways of high society. (Just got with it.) You might initially find the story hard to relate to, but you’ll be swept away by the decadent costumes, scenery and dancing. It’s Paris at its grandest.
6. Last Tango in Paris
Marlon Brando? Paris? A sexy relationship? Oui, oui, oui. Marlon is a transplanted American in Paris named Paul. He’s charmed by French beauty Jeanne (Maria Schneider). They both want to rent the same apartment which leads to some, erm, shall we say… tangoing. If you love ’70s style, just wait until you see 1970s Paris. Last Tango in Paris was released in 1972.
If you want to mix things up and see a part of France besides Paris, Chocolat is your film. The 2000 film is set in rural France in the late 1950’s. And if you want French cooking, you’ve got a chocolatier. Vivanne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter relocate to the picturesque area and open up a chocolate shop. Enter Roux (Johnny Depp), who is one of the people who spends a lot of time eating the delicious chocolat.
Even if you’re not a French cinephile, you will likely be familiar with Amélie. The 2001 film has become a classic. If you haven’t watched the Paris-set romantic movie, it revolves around Amélie (Audrey Tautou). She is a waitress with a big imagination and can dream up some interesting scenarios. It’s incredible to see Paris in any form, but seeing it through the the ingénue’s eyes is one-of-a-kind.
9. Midnight in Paris
If you’ve seen a lot of Owen Wilson movies, know that this one is different. He’s not the same old lovable, slightly aloof guy. In Midnight in Paris, Owen plays Gil Pender, a screenwriter and aspiring novelist who is vacationing in Paris with his his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). He ends up touring the city alone and makes some interesting discoveries. The 2011 film will appeal to history buffs because it brings together the past and present. Even if you’re not up on your history of the City of Light, you will enjoy learning about it.
10. Les Misérables
Yeah, we don’t think that anyone would want to walk the exact same city streets that Fantine (Anne Hathaway) or Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) did in Les Misérables. But, the grand film explores Paris at a darker time and features a tender story. It’s also packed with A-listers and singing. If you want to watch a modern musical and see France, go watch the 2012 film.
Yes, it’s another grand Audrey Hepburn movie set in the City of Light. Are we complaining? Non. The 1954 comedy-drama sees Audrey playing Sabrina Fairchild. She comes back to the U.S. after two years in Paris. This leads to a love triangle. The film still has plenty of Paris and some major French couture. After all, the costumes were designed by Hubert de Givenchy with the legendary Edith Head serving as the costume designer.
Some might say it doesn’t count to put an animated feature on the list, but that’s not fair to Ratatouille. The 2007 film captures the magic of the most romantic city in the world, even if it’s all drawn. Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat who has big dreams of cooking in a Paris kitchen, despite humans being very against having rats around food. You’ll love the adorable story and seeing Paris depicted in radiant colored graphics. You’ll even end drooling over the food.
13. Marie Antoinette
We couldn’t have a French film list without it featuring something to do with French court. And Marie Antoinette definitely fits that bill. Sophia Coppola‘s version from 2006 features Kirsten Dunst as the young title character. It has become iconic for the luxurious costumes, but everything from the food to the balls to the palaces is très, très chic. It’s one of those films that you’ll get swept away by the beauty, and fall more in love with Paris.
14. Moulin Rouge!
Everyone knows what an iconic part of Paris the Moulin Rouge is. In Moulin Rouge! (exclamation point necessary) we go back to the turn of the 20th century with Englishman Christian (Ewan McGregor) falling for Moulin Rouge singer Satine (Nicole Kidman). The 2001 film was directed by Baz Luhrmann so you know it’s a true spectacle. You’ll be swooning by the end for Paris and other reasons.
15. Before Sunset
Before Sunset is a sequel to Before Sunrise so we cannot give too much away. The sequel appears on the list because it’s more centered around Paris whereas the OG is focused on Vienna. Both stories look at the connection between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) and them wandering around whatever city they find themselves in. In other words, there’s a lot to take in.
16. Paris Je T’aime
For those who aren’t up on their French, Paris, Je T’aime translates to “Paris, I Love You.” It’s something you’ll be saying before, after and during this movie. This isn’t a traditional Hollywood plot. The 2006 romance is directed by a whopping 22 directors including Gérard Depardieu and Gus Van Sant and it is broken down into 18 vignettes set in Paris. So, there is ample material for you to fall more in love with the City of Light. It features Natalie Portman as Francine and Elijah Wood as Le Garçon. Très French, non?