A Visit to Paris Inspired by the Oscar-Nominated 'Elle'
If the French can do one thing right, it’s probably cinema. They have a cinematic history so rich, it’s no surprise when a French film bubbles up into normal Oscar competition.
“Elle,” the latest thriller from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, has been named one of the best films of the year around the world. Isabelle Huppert, who played the lead role of Michele Leblanc, is nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. The film won best actress and best foreign film at the Golden Globes. It was also nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes last year.
In the film, Huppert plays a survivor of sexual assault who makes it her mission to track down her masked assailant. But of course (because she is French) there are a variety of other affairs, intrigues and family issues.
The gripping cat-and-mouse chase takes places all around Paris and its suburbs. Visitors to the City of Light can recreate the thrilling movie in some of the city’s lesser-known parts. We promise: No spoilers in this itinerary.
Michele, like many successful and business-oriented Parisians, does not live in Paris proper—rather the affluent suburb of St-Germain-en-Laye. The location used as her house (where she was attacked) is at 11bis rue Charles Rhôné.
The suburb itself was once a royal town and still contains several chateaus among its tree-lined streets. Several French kings (and famed composer Claude Debussy) were born there.
Port de Montebello
The quai alongside the Seine in Paris’s fifth arrondisement played host to the floating restaurant scene in Elle. There are a few different floating barges that set anchor at Port de Montebello, the most famous of which is probably Le Montebello, which serves traditional French cuisine.
Rue Soufflot, Paris
The Rue Soufflot in Paris leads from the Luxembourg Gardens up to the Pantheon. Vincent works in the Quick Burger (a French equivalent of McDonald’s) on the picturesque corner. Elsewhere on the street are little cafes, bookshops and crêperies.
Rue de Beaujolais
Rue de Beaujolais in the center of Paris became the filming location where Michele ran into her ex-husband’s car while trying to park. In real life, the street is absolutely tiny and hidden behind the Palais-Royal gardens. It’s home to many great restaurants, including one of Paris’s top-reviewed, Verjus.
Fresnes Prison, Val-de-Marne
The prison where Michele goes to visit her prison is the very real Fresnes Prison, to the south of Paris. It’s the second-largest prison in the country and while France was under occupation, Germans used the prison to house political prisoners and members of the French Resistance.
The cemetery is filled with a who’s who of celebrities, including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf—among many, many others. It’s also often used as a setting for funeral scenes in many French movies (now including Elle) for its windy streets and greenery that make it seem more like a tiny village than a cemetery.
Parc de Saint Cloud
Post-funeral scattering of the ashes takes place in Parc de Saint Cloud. It’s an expansive park along the Seine to the southwest of Paris. It’s considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the Ile-de-France area and gives visitors a beautiful view of Paris from its overlooks.