Notre-Dame and Ile de la Cité on the big screen

Notre-Dame, the big star. The Seine, quaysides, bateaux-mouches and streets in the Marais play second roles

The historic heart of the capital beats at Notre-Dame. The Ile Saint-Louis and the Ile de la Cité, on which the cathedral is built, the surrounding river Seine, quaysides and bridges are the very cradle of Paris, an area which is highly photogenic.

The Aristocats and Ratatouille, two superb animation films, have chosen them as a backdrop. And it is also the setting for The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, adapted from the novel Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo. So, why not begin your walk with a visit to the cathedral, in the footsteps of Quasimodo and the beautiful Esmeralda?

More sporty types can even climb the 400 steps to the top of the towers (closed until further notice), see the enormous bells, admire the gargoyles and chimerae and enjoy a stunning view of Paris. On Quai de la Tournelle, a few steps from Notre-Dame, , the starred restaurant La Tour d’Argent is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris and was built as long ago as 1582! It was the inspiration for the restaurant Chez Gusto in the film Ratatouille.

However, the heart of the Cité is not just for young cinema buffs! In the film The Devil Wears Prada, the winding medieval streets between the quai de Montebello and the Place Maubert (Impasse Maubert, rue du Haut Pavé, rue des Grands Degrés, rue de l’Hôtel Colbert, rue de la Bûcherie, rue de Bièvre, etc.) were the scenes for a romantic evening stroll for Andy (Anne Hathaway) and her handsome writer.

In the film Midnight in Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson), the main character delights in strolling along the Seine, either alone or with Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Like him, you can find some real treasures at the riverside book sellers along the Seine, or travel virtually with a visit to the quaint English Bookshop Shakespeare & Company. Like Gil, you can dream of adventures at the time of the Roaring Twenties or the belle époque by crossing place Dauphine, or stopping off at the little public garden Square Jean XXIII, next to Notre-Dame.

A detour along Quai des Orfèvres will take you right past the Paris police headquarters which has had its address at no.36, next to the Palais de Justice (Law courts) for more than a century. Not surprisingly, numerous gangster and police television series take place here!Leave the Ile Saint-Louis and go to Les Halles, in front of the ‘Etablissements Julien Aurouze’. The terrifying green rat extermination shop in Ratatouille really does exist! 

Sensitive souls should go straight to the Forum des Images to enjoy the wonderful 80 short films produced by Georges Méliès, a pioneer in cinema, who Martin Scorsese paid a poetic tribute to in Hugo Cabret. Prolong the charm in the Marais, with a visit to the hôtel de Soubise, the seat of the National Archives. Sofia Coppola filmed several scenes for the film Marie-Antoinette – which were supposed to have taken place at the Palace of Versailles – in the blue and gold salon of the Princess.