In this month of love, Paris is a dream destination for any couple. The Jakarta Post draws inspiration from some of the most romantic movies ever as a guide to the city of love.
The iconic location of this delightful movie is Café des 2 Moulins, where our leading lady works. In Montmartre, one can ask any local where it is; just utter the words ‘Amélie Poulain’ (pronounced poo-lane) café and they’ll point you in the right direction.
See where Amelie worked her charm and take pictures over in the cigarette corner (where most conversations in the movie occur), the toilet (for a reminder of the infamous sex scene) and the seat where Amélie peeks at Nino from behind and first falls for him.
Other memorable scenes take place at the Gare de L’est train station, where the game of cat and mouse between Amélie and Nino begins. Note that Gare de L’est is also the gateway to voyages between Paris and other European cities.
When tracing the path of Amélie, one shouldn’t forget to stop by the Montmartre Carousel, where she tricks Nino into a ride. Located just below Sacre Coeur, it costs 2 euro a turn. A favorite spot for Parisians, the Sacre Coeur, a Roman Catholic Basilica, stands tall at the highest point of the city. Linger a while here for sweeping views of Paris.
To conclude Amélie’s adventure, shop for groceries at L’épicerie in Monsieur Collignon on the Rue des Trois Frères, skip stones in St. Martin’s Canal and pay a visit in Notre Dame, where Amélie remembers her mother’s accident. Spare a lazy weekend for this whimsical tour, following in the footsteps of a whimsical girl named…Amélie.
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Set in 1899, in the Montmartre area of Paris, this Academy Award winning film stars Nicole Kidman as Satine, a dancer in the famous cabaret club, Moulin Rouge, who falls in love with Christian (Ewan McGregor).
The club remains a major tourist attraction. With its iconic red windmill (the English translation of Moulin Rouge) lighting up every night, Moulin Rouge draws audiences from around the world to its colorful cabaret show.
Feerie, a new vaudeville show with four different segments, has over 60 songs altogether and lasts for 2 hours. The show plays twice nightly at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Though Feerie has no Romeo & Juliet storyline, like the Spectacular! Spectacular! show featured in the movie, film fans need not worry. Similar to Baz Luhrman’s movie, it’s a feast for the eyes and features the performance of the legendary Moulin Rouge dancers (nicknamed Doriss Girls), who bring the traditional can-can dance to life.
Add glitzy costumes, acrobatics, comedy shows performed by clowns and magicians and a night spent at Moulin Rouge is simply splendid.
Before Sunset (2004)
This film brings two souls, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), from Before Sunrise back in Europe. Instead of Vienna however, this time they wander through the streets of Paris.
Reconstruct their tour by browsing through the extensive collection at the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in the vibrant Quartier Latin. The homey bookstore is the famous flop house of over 50,000 visitors, including celebrated writers like Henry Miller, James Baldwin, and Lawrence Durrell, just to name a few. Book and history aficionados shouldn’t miss this historic institution.
Avoiding the clichés of the city’s more famous Luxembourg and Tuileries gardens, the film used the Promenade Plantée, which runs from the Bois de Vincennes to Bastille. The 4.5 kilometer long elevated park makes for an easy afternoon walk or intense tête-à-tête, just like Jesse and Celine’s. Followed it up with coffee for two at the Pure Café (14 Rue Jean Macé) where visitors can imitate the movie by chatting over café au lait.
In one of the film’s more tender moments, Jesse and Celine take a river cruise (the couple uses the Canauxrama service) to see the city from the wonderful Seine. It’s the perfect way to see Paris’s gorgeous cityscape in an hour. Take the cruise right before sunset to view the city at its best, when all the lights come on.
Paris,Je T’aime (2006)
The endless different ways to explore the romantic city are summed up in 18 different stories in this movie. One of our favorites is the Cohen Brothers’ Tuileries, in which a tourist’s (Steve Buscemi) idea of colorful Paris is ruined by an experience on board the city’s popular metro. But despite the seemingly unnerving scene, we say take the Metro to see the real Paris.
Skip Tuileries, the station portrayed in the movie, and instead head for the most fascinating station, Louvre-Rivoli. The station leads to the world’s most legendary museum (The Louvre) and boy, didn’t the city council do something about it. Magnificent replicas of famous artifacts are mounted on the Metro’s walls.
While you’re at it, jump into the train (see also Walter Salles’ segment, which stars Catalina Sandino Moreno, or Natalie Portman’s scene in the part directed by Tom Tykwer) where locals, backpackers and immigrants interact with each other in different languages. Personally, we like hearing the French words uttered in unison in that confined space of the train. It just feels, yeah, romantic.
Another place in the movie that’s worth visiting on a trip for two is the Père Lachaise (Wes Craven directed this section) where Oscar Wilde, Chopin and Marcel Proust are buried. It’s an eccentric choice but a necessary for the admirers of world’s late maestros.
Arguably the best segment in the movie, Alexander Payne’s 14th Arrondissement brings Margo Martindale, playing an American tourist, to Paris. Practicing her heavily-accented French, the new comer strolls through 14th Arrondissement’s Parc Montsouris and Montparnasse tower. Sure it’s not the Eiffel, but at 210 meters high, the Montparnasse tower has the advantage of being the tallest building in the city and gives fabulous views of the Parisian skyline.
As the film rolls to the end, Martindale’s character is filmed eating a baguette in beautiful Montsouris Park, as she watches the day go by. That very second, she realizes how she has fallen in love with the city during her trip and, most importantly, how Paris has returned the affection.