If you’re feeling really fit, set off at top speed around the golden dome of the Hôtel des Invalides, like in Rush Hour 3! With its many statues, the garden of the musée Rodin is the most tranquil of places unless a ‘Mr know-it-all’ spoils your contemplation of the famous Le Penseur statue, as happens in Midnight in Paris. And now to another museum… Orsay.
Did you know that the great clock of this former train station, built for the World Fair of 1900, was the inspiration for the giant station clock in Hugo? Converted into a museum, Orsay houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist paintings, including The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet. It is while admiring this painting that Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) from the series Gossip Girl finds love during her stay in Paris. If you too are looking for love, why not try the experience?
If you are a fan of The Intouchables — now the most viewed French film outside France —, the Hôtel d’Avaray, the seat of the Netherlands Embassy, will certainly mean something to you. In fact, it is portrayed as the lavish residence of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo (François Cluzet). A little further on, don’t miss the Maison Deyrolle, an authentic shop and cabinet of curiosities, founded in 1831. Woody Allen filmed one of the parties in his Midnight in Paris here amidst the collections of butterflies, shells and stuffed animals.
In Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you’ll see the duo from The Intouchables at the cafe-restaurant Les Deux Magots. Like Driss (Omar Sy), enjoy a fondant au chocolat or tarte Tatin and most of all relax, because the next scene takes you to Saint-Sulpice Church, on the trail of the sinister character Silas in the Da Vinci Code. Do you remember: in his search for the Holy Grail, the monk comes here to search for the key to the vault? And even if, as suggested in the film adapted from the novel by Dan Brown, Saint-Sulpice Church is built on the ruins of a pagan temple, it is still one of the loveliest churches in Paris!
Need a little fresh air after all the excitement? Take a gentle walk to the Sorbonne University. The young lead characters in Hugo chose its great Amphitheatre – inaugurated in 1889 and now a listed historic monument – to organize their gala in honour of Georges Méliès, a pioneer in cinema with his magical A Trip to the Moon. Close by, it is here at the Sainte-Geneviève Library, also a listed historic monument, that the characters in Martin Scorsese’s film try to understand the mysterious drawing made by the robot.
Also a lover of the Latin Quarter, Woody Allen sets numerous scenes from Midnight in Paris here: daydreams in Place de la Contrescarpe and, of course, the departure point for journeys back in time on the steps of the Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, on the stroke of midnight. Like Gil, nothing prevents you from waiting for a vintage car to take you back to the Paris of the Roaring Twenties … Round off your walk with another journey back in time, among the marvels and mysteries of the jardin des Plantes. It is not by chance that The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec lead you into the Museum d’histoire naturelle, and A Monster in Paris into the huge hot houses.