By Patricia McIvor
Don’t worry, ‘staycationers’! This summer we’re taking a virtual vacation through the magic of the movies. We’ll begin our world tour in France, with three films set in the City of Light, Paris.
Enjoy a romantic tour of Paris, Provence, and Cannes with French Kiss (1995).
Starring Meg Ryan as a stick-in-the-mud American tourist and Kevin Kline as a bon vivant Frenchman, this odd couple travelogue relies heavily on the romance of France. On the flight to Paris, aviophobic Kate (Ryan) meets Luc (Kline), who surreptitiously uses her bags to smuggle contraband into the country. After failing to retrieve his goods at the airport, Luc ends up tagging along on Kate’s journey, serving as a translator, guide, and eventually, life coach.
Tour highlights: After an unfortunate stay in Paris, during which Kate loses her luggage, money, and passport, the mismatched pair travels by train to Luc’s family vineyard in sunlit Provence. The trip concludes in the French Riviera, at a beautiful seaside resort in Cannes.
Delve into the complexity of the French capital with Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I love you) (2006).
This anthology film features 18 short films by 22 French and foreign directors. Each short film is set in a different arrondissement, or district, in Paris, illuminating the city’s diversity and scope. The characters range from the familiar (existentially confounded Frenchmen, Francophile tourists), the modern (hardworking immigrants), and even the comically clichéd (mimes); and the stories are by turns sweet, scary, awkward, funny, optimistic, and heartbreaking.
Tour highlights: This cinematic tour truly has something for everyone. For more conventional sightseers, there are several segments set in well-known tourist destinations, such as the Place de la Bastille, the banks of the Seine, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. For more adventurous travelers, there are segments set in the “everyday” districts of Paris, which are filled with arguing couples, commuting professionals, and dirty metro stations.
Discover the city’s artistic and literary history with Midnight in Paris (2011).
This film realizes the tourist fantasy of “traveling back in time” when visiting historically significant places, as frustrated writer Gil (Owen Wilson) finds himself transported to the 1920’s during a trip to Paris. Thanks to a time-traveling taxi that appears at midnight, Gil gets to socialize with some of the great figures of the Lost Generation, including Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll).
Tour highlights: After spending his nights in the Parisian past—where he visits Gertrude Stein’s salon, Bricktop’s nightclub, and Maxim’s restaurant—Gil enjoys day trips to Versailles, Monet’s garden, and several notable museums.
Have you been to France? How do these movies compare to your experiences? Email me your slides at email@example.com. Next month we’ll continue our cinematic vacation in another European country known for its history, beautiful countryside, and wine: Italy.