Text: Andre Teh Images: © Unsplash (Mika Baumeister, Diego Fernandez, hochemedia), © 2024 Disney/Pixar, © Pexels (Pixabay, Antonio Conte, Bruno Charlier), © 2024 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Paris, the City of Light, love, and this month’s Summer Olympics. Home to over two million residents, the French capital is also a popular setting and shooting location for filmmakers. Join us on a tour of this beautiful metropolis and six of its most famous landmarks featured in the movies.

Eiffel Tower (Ratatouille, Moulin Rouge!)

We start at the city’s centrepiece: the Eiffel Tower, locally nicknamed the Iron Lady. At 330m, it was formerly the tallest man-made structure in the world (for 41 years) and is seen in an early scene from the Pixar animated film Ratatouille. Aspiring chef and lowly rat Remy (Patton Oswalt) scurries from the bowels of the sewer, through the walls of an apartment and out onto a rooftop, where he is greeted by a magnificent, panoramic view of the city. Under the magenta twilight sky and rising above the twinkling lights of hundreds of houses, the Eiffel Tower shines like a beacon of inspiration to all who dream. The iron edifice is also briefly sighted in the jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.

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In one of Paris’ finest restaurants, Remy, a determined young rat, dreams of becoming a renowned French chef, setting off a hilarious chain of events.

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Moulin Rouge (Moulin Rouge!)

Speaking of Moulin Rouge!, the musical also features another iconic Paris establishment. Starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as secret lovers in a doomed romance, Luhrmann’s Bollywood-inspired Orphean tragedy takes place in the titular burlesque palace with its iconic red windmill. Since its opening in 1889, the cabaret club — known as the birthplace of the titillating can-can dance — has hosted music legends of the likes of Broadway star Adelaide Hall and Parisienne native Édith Piaf. It is still in operation to this day.

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Moulin Rouge

When an idealistic poet is drawn into the dark, fantastical underworld of the Parisian nightclub the “Moulin Rouge,” he finds a seedy, glamorous haven of sex, drugs and electricity.

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Pont de Bir-Hakeim (Inception, Mission: Impossible – Fallout)

Piaf’s song “Non, je ne regrette rien” plays a key part in the Christopher Nolan sci-fi thriller Inception, which depicts a surreal version of Paris in a shared dream between Leonardo DiCaprio’s gentleman thief Dom Cobb and ingénue Ariadne (Elliot Page). At one point, the duo reach Pont de Bir-Hakeim, an arch bridge that crosses the river Seine. This 237m-long steel bridge has two levels — the road below for motor vehicles and pedestrians and the upper one being a viaduct for the Paris Metro. On the street’s middle walkway, Ariadne performs some dream manipulation with ethereal mirror doors hinged on the viaduct’s colonnades. The bridge also makes an appearance in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, where Tom Cruise’s superspy Ethan Hunt must make a difficult choice between saving a policewoman and preserving his cover.

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Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this contemporary science fiction action film set "within the architecture of the mind."

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Arc de Triomphe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout)

The sixth instalment of the hit espionage film series showcases many other Parisian landmarks, including the Arc de Triomphe. This majestic memorial to the soldiers of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars stands at the centre of the Étoile roundabout, with 12 radiating avenues. In one nerve-wracking sequence, Ethan barrels against eight lanes of counterclockwise traffic at the Étoile on a motorcycle while being pursued by a fleet of National Police squad cars.

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Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The best intentions often come back to haunt you. Mission: Impossible - Fallout finds Ethan Hunt and his IMF team along with some familiar allies in a race against time after a mission gone wrong.

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Place de la Concorde (The Devil Wears Prada)

About 2km from the Arc de Triomphe, down the famous shopping avenue of Champs-Elysées, is Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris. In the middle of the plaza is the Luxor Obelisk, an ancient Egyptian monolith which once marked the entrance to Luxor Temple and was gifted by the Egyptian government to the French in the 19th century. After completing the installation of the obelisk, the square’s chief architect, Jacques Ignace Hittorff, designed two fountains to complement it. One of Hittorff’s Fontaines de la Concorde was featured towards the end of The Devil Wears Prada; Anne Hathaway’s character Andy Sachs, disillusioned with the fashion world and her insufferable boss Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), chucks her phone into its basin.

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The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway star in this comedy about a young woman who moves to New York and ends up as the assistant to the tyrannical editor-in-chief of a major fashion magazine.

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Place de la Bastille (Les Misérables)

Another historic square is Place de la Bastille, the former site of the eponymous prison and a battleground during the June Rebellion of 1832, immortalised in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. Based on Hugo’s personal experience of the revolt, the novel has been adapted into a stage musical and 2012 film starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Russell Crowe. In the film, the Elephant of the Bastille — a monument conceived by Napoléon Bonaparte — serves as the humble abode of a street urchin. The real-life plaster pachyderm was a perpetual work in progress — the intended bronze version never came to fruition — until its abandonment and subsequent demolition. Today, the July Column stands on what was originally the elephant’s pedestal.

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Les Misérables (2012)

Jean Valjean, a convict jailed for a petty crime leaves prison to find a new life but is pursued by the obsessive policeman who arrested him. Valjean ultimately finds redemption and honour.

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Check out Ready, Set, Paris! for more.
Catch the Olympics live on board.
Singapore Airlines flies directly from Singapore to Paris multiple times a month. Plan your next trip to the City of Light on our website.
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