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The Côte d’Azur, a famous film set

Ever since the early days of films, the history of the Côte d’Azur has been closely linked to that of the 7th art and its iconic characters. From Saint-Tropez to Menton, Nice and Cannes, the Mediterranean coast has progressively become a must in one of the natural settings that film-makers most want to use. A little overview of the great films which have marked the Côte d’Azur.

Cannes, the cinema capital

Of course, you can’t avoid talking about Cannes and its festival when the subject is films. Did you know that Louis Lumière, who invented the cinematograph, was its first President? The true capital of cinema, Cannes is also its most glamorous display case, thanks particularly to its many palace hotels which welcome every year the greatest stars of the 7th art. Beyond the festival, the town has also become famous as a mythical film set. For example, 0in cult films such as To Catch a Thief, Grosse Fatigue and French, the Carlton was used in several scenes. In the 60s, Cannes was a setting for La Baie des Anges, with Jeanne Moreau, and also Mélodie en Sous-sol, where several scenes were shot at the Palm Beach Casino, particularly those with Jean Gabin and Alain Delon in a famous scene beside the pool. Out to sea, on Sainte-Marguerite island, Le Masque de Fer was filmed in 1929, as the famous legend resonates inside the walls of Fort Royal. For the more curious, you can even visit the former cell occupied by this mysterious man. Back in Cannes, and leaping back to 1973, you see Claude Lelouch behind the camera, on the shooting of La Bonne Année. 20 years later, and on another subject, the team of La Cité de la Peur invaded the Croisette, to film the cult parody of the Festival de Cannes. Then, in the years from 2000 to 2010, the capital of cinema hosted the shooting of great films such as Femme Fatale, Le Transporteur and Rust and Bone, which received many awards in the 2013 Césars. More recently, in 2019, Cannes was also the setting for Une fille facile, with Zahia topping the bill.

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The coveted setting of Antibes

Much coveted by film stars, the town of Antibes Juan-les-Pins has also hosted the shootings of La Cité de la Peur and Rust and Bone, with Marion Cotillard. A great record to which we can add one of the most mythical film characters : James Bond. At the time, in 1983, he was played by Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. 3 years later, it was Prince’s turn to enjoy the unique setting of Antibes Juan-les-Pins to film Under the Cherry Moon, with Kristin Scott Thomas making her début in films. Less than 5 km away, in Vallauris Golfe Juan, Les compères was filmed with Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard, as well as Picasso, a film by Luciano Emmer where the artist can be seen painting La Guerre et la Paix in a chapel in Vallauris and doing charcoal sketches of the roofs of the town.

Nice the film studio-town and the surrounding area

Nicknamed “the European Hollywood”, the town of Nice is closely linked to the history of the cinema. In 1919, producer Serge Sandberg purchased the Villa Victorine and its 7-hectare estate to set up a film studio. Over the years, the Studios de la Victorine were to see a variety of filmmakers and stars and the making of famous films such as Les Enfants du Paradis, La Nuit Américaine, Le Testament d’Orphée and Le Diamant du Nil. Here’s a tip: book your table in the restaurant inside the Studios de la Victorine and set foot in this mythical place. Apart from the studios, Nice and its great hotels have also been the theatre of many films. Among them, La Baie des Anges, Ronin and its famous et sa famous chase in the old town of Nice with Robert de Niro and Jean Reno, and also Brice de Nice, with Jean Dujardin, and even Magic In the Moonlight, with Emma Stone. Not far from there, near Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the Hotel de la Voile d’Or is famous for having been the setting for the credits of the Persuaders series. Just next door, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, some scenes from the films Never Say Never Again, Le Diamant du Nil, La Baie des Anges and To Catch a Thief by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Grace Kelly, were filmed.

A photogenic coastline from La Turbie to Menton

La Grande Corniche, which goes from La Turbie to La Trinité, saw many famous car chases, including the one in To Catch a Thief with Gace Kelly at the wheel. A sadly premonitory scene. Later, in the 90s, Pierce Brosman, as James Bond, gave us a thrill on the Grande Corniche, during the filming of Goldeneye. The car chase goes over the Col d’Èze and ends with a plunging view of Monaco. Just next door, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the villas attracted the film community. Among the most remarkable, the Venetian Torre-Clementina Villa, where Joy House was filmed with Jane Fonda and Alain Delon, and Villa Cypris, which was the setting for Mortelle Randonnée, with Isabelle Adjani, Michel Serrault and Guy Marchand. In a more modern architectural style, the Cabanon Le Corbusier, just next to Le Buse beach, attracted celebrities like John Malkovitch or Brad Pitt. Brad walked the roads of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin during the filming of one of the most famous scenes in Ocean Twelve, with George Clooney, in the little tunnel of Avenue Sylvio de Monléon. The town can also add the filming of Tender is the Night, The Romantic Englishwoman, Heartbreaker, with Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis, and Les Tuche. Just 3 km away, Menton saw the shooting of Grace de Monaco, with Nicole Kidman, The son’s Room, and also certain scenes from Never Say Never Again. The gardens of Villa Maria Serena also hosted the team of In the Name of My Daughter, with Catherine Deneuve et Guillaume Canet. Known for their exotic trees, the gardens are open to visitors. Did you know that, up until the 70s, the town of Menton and journalists awarded an Orange Prize to the nicest stars and a Lemon Prize to the less cooperative ones? Arletty was awarded the Orange Prize unanimously and in 1963 the Lemon Prize was awarded to Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon and Jean-Luc Godard.

The Nice back country in the camera lens

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a village in the Alpes-Maritimes is particularly appreciated by celebrities. The now mythical Auberge de La Colombe d’Or has forged itself a reputatio, as a quiet refuge for the stars. But it is also the picturesque setting of the little town that has attracted film makers for many years. Among the films shiot in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, we can, for example citer the films Moment to Moment, Atout cœur à Tokyo pour OSS 117 and Big Kiss. On the road to the Col de Vence, there is actually aplace known as “ le tournant du cinéma” (the cinema bend) as it hosted many shootings in the 50s and 60s. A small anecdote: it was in Vence, and more precisely in the chapel decorated by Matisse, that Grace Kelly visited just the day before she met Prince Rainier of Monaco. In Tourettes-sur-Loup, you can also see traces of the future Grace de Monaco, who was actually shooting To Catch a Thief at the time. She used to sit on the milestone to have a rest, a milestone which has since been rechristened “borne Grace Kelly”. Less known by the French, but much appreciated abroad, the series Dans un grand vent de fleurs was filmed not far from ther in Grasse. On another tone, but still with a love story as the backdrop, Buffalo Bill et la Bergère was filmed just a few kilometres from Grasse, in Mouans-Sartoux, which had become the Wild West for the occasion.

The gulf of Saint-Tropez, one of the Côte d’Azur’s gems

There’s just no way you can talk about the cinema and the Côte d’Azur without mentioning Saint-Tropez. 6 mythical Gendarme de Saint-Tropez films were shot here with the legendary Louis de Funès. And here Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin were together to film La Piscine in1968. Of course, other film stars have left their mark in Saint-Tropez, like Brigitte Bardot, for the filming of And God Created Woman. She knew the place well, because she spent her holidays there with her family. Later, she bought La Madrague, near the Canoubiers beach, where she invited the élite of the 7th art. Two years after Brigitte Bardot’s début in films, it was Jean Sieberg’s turn to prove herself during the filming of Bonjour Tristesse, adapted from Françoise Sagan’s novel. 15 years later, Saint-Tropez had the privilge of seeing Jean-Paul Belmondo play alongside Claudia Cardinale, in the thriller La Scoumoune. Then from the 90s, the little Mediterranean town became the setting for the famous sitcom Sous le soleil de Saint-Tropez until the 2000s. At the time, Saint-Tropez also hosted the filming of La Vérité si je Mens 2 and Hors de Prix, with Audrey Tautou and Gad Elmaleh.

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