Five Movies that Inspired Me to Go to Paris (and one confession…)

Hi hi, everyone! I’m still in Paris happily annoying every poor Parisian with my crappy French and I’m sure drinking too much wine and too many lattes! As I was preparing for this trip I thought back to when I started to want to travel to Paris.

Of course, everyone wants to go to Paris, right? But why? What inspires us to go?  Was it one too many readings of Madeleine? Was it seeing pictures of the Eiffel tower as a child and wondering what that was? If you were like me, it was because you saw a certain movie and were enchanted.

That is how I felt when I saw the following movies (and one extremely awesome bonus). Now, I could get all fancy pants French film studies on all ya’ll referencing Au Revoirs les Enfants, 400 Blows, The Grand Illusion, Un Chien Andalou, and Belle de Jour—and they are great movies—but that’s not how I roll. I roll in popcorn pop culture goofy giddy stuff that just makes me happy.  I like to think I’m a mix of high brow and low brow, so that is what this list is going to feature.

I hope they inspire you to make a trip to Paris yourself one day! Or at least to watch one of these movies. So, here they are:


As you know, I love MGM musicals and Gene Kelly, so add Paris and you had me at Bonjour! Truly such a beautiful musical and love letter to Paris. And mythical Paris, but still Paris. Even though the majority of scenes happened on the back lot of Hollywood. And remember that crazy black and white party they had? That has to be one of the top ten best parties on film ever. Right up there with the party Holly Golightly held in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Leslie Caron rocked the heck out of this film and was the perfect match to Gene Kelly—especially in that great George Gershwin musical number which I think is one of the best pieces of film ever. EVER.

2.) LA BOUM!

I remember watching this in eighth grade French class and loving every flipping minute of it.  The way the teens wore their scarves. The amazing relationship the main character has with her grandmother. Imagine being a young teen with Paris as your favorite make-out place. Does it get any better than that? Je pense que non!


I remember watching this film in my first French class and of course was immediately charmed by it. Although life looked pretty tough for the main character, whose only joy came from a red balloon. Later in a film studies course in college we dissected the film and all of the underlying themes of hope floating, despair, etc. But still I always smile when I think about the blue and red balloon meeting. Sigh!


I think this film kicks Umbrellas of Cherbourg’s behind!  So much lighter and sweeter and just delicious!

It’s like MGM and sixties France made out and had a baby!  I’d so date this baby! I mean, the colors and dancing.  The movie even has GENE KELLY in it!

And could we talk about the outfits too?

I don’t know about you, but looking at this image—you just don’t get American teenagers. They seem so very very French to me!  Oh, it is wonderful!


I know. This really has no right being on this list. it’s not based in Paris and I don’t think a single word is spoken in French. The movie is genius for many things. But there is this wonderful scene where the mother doesn’t even attempt to know French and just says, “frawnch” for French.  So darn funny! To this day I have a group of friends that happily just banter back and forth lines from this movie (as well as other bad eighties movies watched at slumber party movies) that we actually started a movie blog about it.

Here is the dinner clip.

Doesn’t this make you want to watch the whole movie and hear that paper boy say, “I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!” Classic!

And lastly a confession. One of my favorite glimpses of Paris was actually on TV—from (grimace) The Facts of Life Go to Paris. Jo’s Parisian boyfriend was crazy hot, and Blair fell in love with Paris instead of finding true love.

What are your favorite French films? Or favorite French references in any media?


9 thoughts on “Five Movies that Inspired Me to Go to Paris (and one confession…)

    1. Ahh! I’ve heard amazing things about all three of those places–when we got there, we tried to make reservations at Les Papilles and unfortunately it was totally booked.

      But I totally plan to go back–it was too fabulous to not go back. AND soon!

  1. I love paris because we were fortunate enough to be stationed in Germany when I was a little girl. I will always remember the one time we took a trip to Pars. It was one of those tour buses that end up dropped you off at a fancy hotel but each day would take you around the city. I had so much fun, eating the neat little sugar cubes (I was 8) walking in Notre Dame, the crepes that were sold on the street and my tiny little 8 year old heart fell in love with all the colors, the accents, the pretty flowers….everything 🙂 I hope to go back one day.

    1. That sounds amazing to have an international childhood! I totally would have loved that.

      I couldn’t find one of those crepe vendors to save my life! Argh! NEXT TIME!

  2. Watching Better Off Dead was Brendan’s and my first date–I knew he was the one when we both could spout off lines from it while we were watching it 🙂

    I know it’s not Paris, but i LOVE Umbrellas of Cherbourgh. LOVE. It’s such a sad movie but so beautiful.

  3. Amber, as if I didn’t love you enough–that story about your and your husband seeing Better Off Dead is just wonderful. WONDERFUL!

    Umbrellas of Cherbourgh is amazing. Truly amazing!

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