Travelling Vicariously: France

Published Categorized as Travel

I’ve been at home sick for the past couple of days, and haven’t really been able to do much beyond lying in bed and doing some feverish daydreaming. Is it a little sad that my ‘happy place’ is thinking about what exactly I’ll pack on our Europe trip (which is still several months away) and how many different outfits I’ll be able to make out of my travel wardrobe? That and thinking about where will be in our trip this time next year, assuming all goes to plan – France!

I have to admit that I don’t know a huge amount about France, apart from how it’s portrayed in popular media – which is almost entirely about Paris. I think Paris has got to be the most hyped up city in the world, and I’m trying hard to not give in to it too much in case I end up disappointed. Then again, I think I’d be happy anywhere I can get a nice pastry and have interesting things to take photos of. What I want most of all is that moment that I’ve read about or seen in movies – where the protagonist stumbles across a market, buys a bit of bread and seasonal vegetables, does very little preparation and then eats it on the balcony of their rented apartment. And declares it the best thing ever. Given our budget won’t really allow us to eat at restaurants for every meal, I think that an experience like this is more than likely! Although I might have to learn more French than the words for basic cheeses and wines.

Here’s a few movies for travelling vicariously to France:

  • Midnight in Paris – Even if you don’t like Woody Allen this movie has some beautiful shots of Paris, from the point of view of someone clearly in love with the city. I thought it was fun and charming, and makes me want to know more about Paris in the 1920’s!
  • Julie & Julia – The Julie character is a bit annoying, but Meryl Streep as Julia Child exploring her new home in Paris is a joy to watch.
  • Funny Face has been on my list of movies to watch for ages, so I think that’ll be next up when I feel like travelling vicariously through film. Can’t go wrong with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.
  • Amélie is a favourite I need to revisit – Audrey Tatou at her most charming. I’m not sure how kindly Parisian store owners will take to me sticking my hand into a bag of dry beans, but I expect they get that a lot.
  • Bonus: Foo Doo Fa Fa by Flight of the Conchords (“Baguette! Ohohoh”)

Watch with a glass of wine (pinot noir is my favourite at the moment) and some bleu cheese (or maybe just camembert if like me you’re not quite on board with the blue mould yet).

Anyone have suggestions of movies, documentaries or books about France for me? Particularly ones that aren’t set in Paris?


  1. I don’t know any others than what you’ve mentioned, but thanks for the suggestions – we are going to Paris for a week on our Europe holiday at the end of the year so I might have to watch Funny Face! I loved Julie & Julia and Midnight in Paris :)

  2. Hi Teresa, I’ve also seen Chocolat (2000 film) and 2 Days in Paris (2007 film). Can’t really remember if they were any good but they were set in France so you might as well give it a go :)

  3. And I forgot to mention that you should read something by Françoise Sagan. Hello Sadness, for example, it’s her famous novel, very French.

  4. Jennifer – Glad to help! you guys must be as excited as we are :D

    Vik – Ooh I loved Chocolat! I haven’t seen 2 Days in Paris but that’s definitely going on the list. Will look up Françoise Sagan as well. Thanks!

  5. Yes, it is the most hyped up city in the world! We went without rose-coloured glasses so that we could really see it for what it was. And it is AWESOME and we fell in love with it!

  6. I watched Chocolat again and yes, it’s really good :) I also got a new French movie The Women on the 6th Floor, but haven’t watched it yet. Oh, you guys will have a wonderful year in Europe, I’m jealous :)

  7. Lucent – I’m trying to do the same, but it’s difficult to rise above the hype! I’m hoping to spend a decent bit of time there, since it usually takes me a couple of days to warm up to a city.

    Vik – Thanks, will look that one up too!

    I just watched Funny Face – I’m not sure if much of it is actually filmed in France (despite most of the movie being set in Paris), but it’s a good movie nonetheless.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.