Five cinematic settings that will make you fall in love with France

When you picture how life would be in a certain country or region you might take inspiration from scenes in films which have stuck in your mind. France is known as a producer of fine things and its films are no exception, the cinematographic there is called ‘le 7eme art’, the 7th art. The following film settings show some of the country’s most appealing areas in all their Gallic glory.

French Riviera

Cannes Film festival

To Catch a Thief stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly but the real star of the film is the French Riviera. The locale was such a selling point it was even mentioned in the trailer.

John Robie (played by Grant) is a retired cat burglar who has been living a more sedate lifestyle tending French vineyards – until a string of robberies make him a suspect. When Francie Stevens (played by Grace Kelly) finds her jewellery missing, she blames him.

Suspicion isn’t the only tension that simmers between the two. Despite the jewellery thefts, it’s the whirlwind romance between the pair and their high-speed antics in front of glamourous, sun-kissed beaches and glittering turquoise seas that set the pulse racing.

The French Riviera is perfect for socialising with amenities that cater to those with healthy disposable incomes and its warm climate tempts residents outdoors. You don’t have to be Bill Gates to live there though. The favourable climate and interesting coast offer more opportunities to get out and about. A walk through the medieval village of Roquebrune with its Modernist buildings is just one example of the natural and man-made beauty of this region.

Normandy

Normandy

The Family tells the story of an ex-Mafioso, Giovanni Manzioni (Robert De Niro) who is moved to Normandy, France, as part of a Witness Protection Scheme. Normandy’s characteristic houses with exposed beams set the scene from the off.

After Giovanni’s cover is almost immediately blown, tranquil footpaths become war zones; cars race through narrow streets that take you back in time and bullets whistle through the timber of houses with splinters flying in all directions.

Witnesses, a French detective series shown in the UK on Channel 4, makes a leading part of the Northern France coastline – cool-coloured pebbled beaches and dainty huts provide a beautiful setting for a chilling crime drama. The fishing village where the drama takes place, Le Treport, in upper Normandy, transforms in to a glistening gem of a seaside spot when the sun comes out, making a show of the towering white cliffs and the prominent St Jacques church which stands like a warden, visible from many points.

Thinking of buying in the area? Take the funicular railway for a great view of what treasures this coastal haven harbours.

Cassis – Provence Cote d’Azur

The French Transporter (Le Transporteur) franchise produced by top French producer Luc Besson (Big Blue, Nikita, The 5th Element, Leon …) – is a high stakes crime-inspired story set in the Cote d’Azur with several memorable scenes shot in peaceful fishing village, Cassis.

Among the Cote d’Azur’s many secrets, hidden in Cassis at the foot of the highest sea cliffs in France, are ‘les calanques’. These are inlets, cutting in to the rock, which create secluded beaches. Are you a fan of walking? If so, pull on some comfortable footwear and head west along the coast towards Marseille (only 10 miles away) and discover these coastal hideaways for yourself.

Those who have discovered Cassis tend to wax lyrical about how beautiful and peaceful it is and while the more people who say this the more word gets out, there is still plenty of time to find your Cote d’Azur haven. Why not start your search here at My French House?

Although it’s a small town Cassis offers a variety of things to do with cafes close to the sea and even vineyards as you head away from the beaches.

Gascony – Nouvelle Aquitaine/ Occitanie

Beauty and the Beast (1991). It isn’t made clear but the story’s setting is said to be inspired by Gascony, an area which straddles the lower part of Nouvelle Aquitaine and western Occitanie, from the river Garonne to the Pyrenees. Some say this area is ‘the real France’ and if that is what you want, you could also end up living longer as the ‘Wine Diet’ of people there is reported to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Gascony is also known as ‘the other South of France’ and is a haven for food lovers. There, you can ski and go the beach on the same day due to the varied geography it covers. If you’re after a quintessentially French way of life, Gascony could be for you. There’s a slower pace to things with large swathes of unspoilt countryside and wild flower meadows while food and drink are high on the locals’ lists of priorities. Many villages have a market so there’s always somewhere to grab fresh, local produce.

Brittany

A Summer’s Tale (2014), directed by Eric Rohmer, is a romantic comedy about a young man called Gaspard (played by Melvil Poupaud) who finds himself mixed up in a love quadrangle.

The film shows that when the sun is out this part of western France can be as ruggedly beautiful as anywhere. One of the features of the film is how natural everything is, from the actors’ hair to the coastline and its rocks and vegetation.

Brittany

Brittany is a popular place to emigrate to for Brits as it can feel like you’re not far from friends and family back in Britain and if you want to travel to see them, it’s relatively quick and inexpensive, using various transport links. You also benefit from glorious beaches and generally superior weather than Britain.

In Brittany there are a good variety of homes to choose from in Brittany, with properties by the sea generally demanding a greater asking price while larger farmhouses with land in beautiful countryside potentially provide a relative bargain. If you’ve dreamed of renovating an old barn or taking on another restoration project there are likely to be plenty of opportunities for a project to get your teeth in to.

Why just fantasise about living in a beautiful French area you’ve admired on a television or cinema screen when you can reach out and grab that way of life for real?

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