In Paris, A Bridge To The Stars

Paris Movie Walks:
Ten Guided Tours Through the City
of Lights! Camera! Action!

by Michael Schürmann
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-887140-83-6
280 pages • 6″ x 9″
64 b/w photos • 21 b/w maps • Index of films
Trade paperback original
Printed in the U.S.A.
List price $15.95

A low-cost route to glamour in the City of Light

Following in the footsteps of A-list film stars turns out to be a surprisingly budget-friendly way to tour Paris.

(June 16, 2009) The wooden pedestrian bridge in Paris known as the Pont des Arts provides “one of the most glorious 360-degree-views in Paris,” proclaims Michael Schürmann, a Paris-based freelance translator and sportscaster.

The view from the bridge includes both banks of the Seine and the Île-de-la-Cité with the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral in the distance. Reason enough, one would think, to make a stop here on any visit to the City of Light.

But Schürmann offers another motivation for visiting this site: you can stand where film stars from Audrey Hepburn to Harrison Ford to Steve Martin have stood. “Few Paris-based Hollywood movies seem ready or willing to miss this view,” he explains.

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Audrey Tautou in Amélie, Tom Everett Scott as the eponymous American Werewolf in Paris (when he feels his first wolfish hunger pangs, no less), Jean Reno and Steve Martin in the remake of The Pink Panther, and lovers Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond in the 1995 version of Sabrina appear on the silver screen at this picturesque bridge.

Schürmann should know: the author of Paris Movie Walks: Ten Guided Tours Through the City of Lights! Camera! Action! (just published by The Intrepid Traveler, $15.95 US) has spent years showing visitors the Parisian sights made famous in films from the French New Wave classics to Hollywood blockbusters like The Da Vinci Code.

“I first realized there might be a market for this kind of thing,” he says, “when friends and visitors, having displayed a dutifully polite interest in the former studios of Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec down our road, suddenly brightened up when told that a scene of French Kiss had been shot right underneath their bedroom window.” Film buff Schürmann discovered more and more locales that had made appearances in cinema over the years. He began making up suggested walking tours that would lead strolling visitors from one film site to the next, in the process incorporating the more traditional sights, sounds, and tastes of the city.

The tours, he found, were ideal for many visitors for a number of reasons. First, of course, there’s the novelty of recognizing the setting of a scene from one of your favorite movies. On a more practical note, though, many of the most popular sites for movies include iconic views of Paris’s landmarks. Too, walking from one to the next allows you to pace yourself, taking anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day to complete a route, depending on whether you decide to pause for shopping, refreshments, or checking out museums along the way. Finally and perhaps most importantly these days, self-paced equals budget-friendly, as the views on the street are free and the stops strictly optional.

Eventually, Schürmann put together ten tours to make up Paris Movie Walks: four through the heart of the city, four around the periphery of central Paris, and two through the working-class neighborhoods of the city that served as settings for French film classics of the 1930s and 1940s.

Schürmann points out another reason to take his tours, one that follows from the city’s popularity with filmmakers. “Paris is one of the most active film locations in the world,” he notes. “When my editors field tested the walks, they encountered four active film shoots, one of them a John Travolta movie!”

Read more about Michael Schürmann.

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