Like most people, romantic-comedy Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain was my introduction to contemporary French cinema.
Having attended French immersion school throughout my schooling in Canada, Amélie was the quintessential film to play during French classes. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I watched the film via projector on the class whiteboard, a pencil in one hand, and a sheet full of questions about the deeper meaning of the film’s colour scheme and travelling gnome in the other.
Not that I ever complained. Since my first viewing I’ve been completely in love with the quirky movie – and completely in love with the Paris it projected. From the adorable apartments in Montmartre, to the neon-lit brasseries, to the perfect pots of crème brûlée, Amélie had me dreaming about living a perfect life in the city of love and romance with my own Mathieu Kassovitz in tow.
This is why, when I first visited Paris, I made a point to locate all the major sets from the movie and visit them in-person.
It was a dream come true – literally.
Despite Amélie portraying a very romanticized version of Paris that frankly does not exist, the sets they chose as the background for the film are nonetheless completely charming in their own right, and really worth a visit from any fan of the flick. Find out where to find them below!
Café des 2 Moulins
15 Rue Lepic
Open everyday from 7:30 AM – 2 AM (8 AM – 2 AM on weekends)
Located just a stone’s throw from the Moulin Rouge, the Café des 2 Moulins is the infamous brasserie where Amélie works.
From the yellow neon lights that adorn the bar and ceiling, to the brass coffeemaker, to the burgundy booths, to the zinc counter, it’s something straight out of the movie, so much that you half expect Audrey Tautou to come by your table and take your order. (Not to say the actual waiters are a disappointment – in fact, they are some of the nicest servers I’ve encountered in France.)
The Café des 2 Moulins has more of a local feel than one would expect from a brasserie-turned-famous film set, with many Parisians grabbing a glass of Happy Hour wine or dropping on live music nights. There are still tourists who flock there, of course, who the establishment indulges with photo-taking with the pictures of Amélie found framed around the bar, and the Goûter d’Amélie – a combo of a hot drink and a crème brûlée à la cardamone (what else?).
Real name: Au Marché de la Butte / Maison Chez Abdel
56 Rue des Trois Frères
Maison Collignon is the name of the shop where sweet Lucien and disgruntled Monsieur Collignon work, and where Amélie does her food shopping.
The épicerie plays up its association to the film, with pictures of Audrey Tautou and newspaper clippings mentioning the shop pasted on its windows, and the wicker baskets full of fruits and vegetables out front mirroring the display in the film. It also kept the ‘Monsieur Collignon’ sign perched above the entrance, despite the fact that it’s not even the real name of the shop!
You can also purchase postcards and little pictures here, which make nice souvenirs for any film fans back home.
Abbesses Métro Station
Abbesses is the metro stop Amélie gets off at to go home. Also known as the doorway to Montmartre, it is the perfect pick for those who want to wander around Amélie’s neighbourhood. Sacré-Cœur, local butchers, and other spots from the film are all within walking distance.
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre
Sacré-Cœur is a key spot in the game of cat and mouse that Amélie and Nino play in the film. The basilica itself is stunning, towering over Montmartre and Pigalle, with a lush green slope in front where locals and tourists alike like to rest and have picnics in the summertime.
A word of warning, however: Especially at the base of the basilica (by the merry-go-round) there are plenty of scammers and pick-pockets, so visit with caution!
Boulevard de Clichy
In the movie, Nino works at a sex shop/peep show in Pigalle. While I’ve yet to identify the exact shop (if it even exists), the infamous Boulevard de Clichy is full of ones just like it, and is likely to be the location of Nino’s employer.
Located between metro stops Pigalle, Blanche, and Place de Clichy, Boulevard de Clichy is packed full of strip clubs and sex shops, all of which advertise via brightly-coloured neon signs. The Moulin Rouge and Musee de l’Erotisme are also found here.
Gare de l’Est
Lines 4, 5, and 7
Gare de Paris-Est – or Gare de l’Est, as it’s more commonly called – is the spot where Amélie and Nino Quincampoix had their chance encounter, as well as the location of the infamous photo booth where Nino would scrounge around for ripped up pictures to add to his collection.
Located in Northeast Paris, the Canal Saint-Martin is made up of a 19th century waterway, iron footbridges, and tree-shaded quays. It’s also the spot in Amélie where the titular character enjoys skipping stones (though you can’t actually do this in real life – the lock is closed off to the public).
If you’re going to drop by for the association with the movie, I would stay for the actual area itself. In the summertime it’s a lovely place to drink wine out of plastic cups with friends, and year-round it makes for a nice walk, with many bohemian bars and bistros found along the waterway.