Let me tell you a little secret. I’ve never admitted this before, but I have one ambition in life… and that’s to win an Oscar.
You know the gold, shiny statuette that is presented each year at the Academy Awards to the best actors, directors and movie professionals in Hollywood? Well, I want one and I even know what will be in my speech when I go up to get it. Let’s just say eat your heart out Matthew McConaughey…
My chances of winning Best Actor are pretty slim of course, so it looks like I will have to concentrate on the off-screen side of film-making. And it’s screenplays where I am pinning my dreams.
I love movies and stories – especially those set in real locations. That’s what took me to Paris, the city of light and love.
A number of my favourite movies are filmed in the French capital so I made film the focus of my recent trip.
From staying in a hotel that included a cinema to dining in cafes popular with writers and poets, Paris has everything for film fans – including walking tours of famous film locations.
One such tour is ‘Set in Paris’ (setinparis.com) which starts near Notre Dame Cathedral and heads through the heart of the city at the Left Bank, Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cité. The two-hour tour, with guide and self-confessed movie history buff Antoine, took us to locations around the Seine and the famed Latin Quarter.
The reason for choosing Set in Paris was that two of my favourite movies – ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Before Sunset’ – feature heavily on the excursion. And the highlight of the tour for me was visiting the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop that features in both films.
As well as the bookshop, the walk took us to Jason Bourne’s hideout in ‘The Bourne Identity’, the Pont d’Arcole bridge that features in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton and the back streets where Anne Hathaway’s character Andy shares a kiss with Christian in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
If you are not a fan of Bourne, Woody Allen or of rom-coms, you don’t have to go all diva on us by the way. There are so many classic films featured on the Set in Paris walk including ‘Charade’, ‘Funny Face’, ‘Julie & Julia’, ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’.
And even the kids won’t be left out as you can visit the locations and listen to the stories that inspired animated films like Disney’s ‘The Aristocats’ and Pixar’s ‘Ratatouille’.
Paris truly is a film-maker’s dream destination. As well as the tour round the heart of the city, we also took in the classic film locations such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the fountain at Saint-Michel.
I always thought that walking around New York was like being on a movie set, but thanks to the inside knowledge of tour guide Antoine and local-based bloggers, Paris is now my number one movie destination.
So back to my Academy Award chances. Will Paris appear in one of my own screenplays? Maybe.
I just know that if I want to win that Oscar then some Parisian charm can only help in the judging. But if all goes wrong and people don’t like my story, then at least they will love the backdrop.
Your pass to Paris
The ‘Set in Paris’ walking tour comes free if you buy a ‘Paris Pass’. This pass gives you free access to more than 60 attractions and museums (including the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay), free unlimited travel on the metro, RER and buses and also a free river cruise from the Eiffel Tower. The Paris Pass costs €122 for an adult two-day pass, €182 for adult four-day pass or €219 for a six-day adult pass. See parispass.com
The bookshop where you can stay the night
Browse the shelves, sit down and read next to the owner’s cat or even stay the night – the Shakespeare and Company bookshop is quite simply a Parisian gem.
Located just across the Seine river opposite Notre-Dame Cathedral, it has famously featured in a number of films including ‘Before Sunset’, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
In the opening scene, Hawke’s character Jesse tells Céline (Delpy) that he had stayed the night in the bookshop’s attic. And in fact this is something that anyone can do. When George Whitman founded the bookshop in 1951 he pledged to “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise”.
Throwing his doors open to writers and artists ever since, thousands of ‘Tumbleweeds’ (as they are called) have found their way to Paris and in need of a place to stay. In exchange for a sleeping spot, Tumbleweeds are asked to “read a book a day”, work for a couple of hours in the shop and write a single-page autobiography for the Whitman’s archives.
For any aspiring writer, bookworm or romantic, this is no trouble in exchange for a really unique experience. See shakespeareandcompany.com
A hotel with its own cinema
If you want to keep in with the film theme then the L’Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol is a perfect choice and is within walking distance of the Seine, Hôtel de Ville, Notre-Dame Cathedral and Place Saint-Michel.
Each floor is dedicated to a French film icon and the lobby, rooms and eating area are all decorated with cinematic artifacts. We stayed on the fourth floor and our room was dedicated to screenwriter and producer Danièle Thomson.
L’Hotel Le 123 Sebastopol also has its own cinema in the basement, a beautiful terrace and fitness centre. See le123sebastopol.com/en/