France is a fabulous travel destination. From the Alsace delights of Colmar and Strasbourg, to the Mediterranean shores of Nice and the Cote D’Azur, the Flemish splendour of Lille to the D-Day beaches of Normandy, it rarely disappoints.
France is particularly well served by cinema, from the lavender fields of Provence to the effortless cool of Paris. And the good news is that there is no shortage of movies set in France on the two most popular streaming services: Netflix and Amazon Prime.
To inspire you to take your next trip, I have put together a list of the best films set in France on Netflix or Amazon Prime. These are all films that I have seen; no recycled, second-hand opinion here!
Unsurprisingly, there are a few movies in French but the majority are in English.
Not all of these movies are masterpieces (although there are a few that are). However, in some way, each of them effectively showcases France’s cities and landscape, culture or cuisine.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that there may be regional variations to the availability of movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Information here relates to the UK market in December 2021.
Movies on these platforms come and go, and I have included links to individual films on Amazon Prime to allow you to check their current availability.
As it’s not possible to link to individual movies on Netflix, you will need to use the search function on your streaming account. However, I have included IMDB links from these Netflix films for further information if needed.
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Movies Set in France on Netflix
The selection of movies set in France available for streaming on Netflix is relatively modest. Here is the best of the bunch.
Les Miserables (2012)
An over-the-top – and epic – musical, which is redeemed by top-notch performances from its stellar cast.
Inspired by Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables is set in Montfermeil, the same French suburb as the original story, and tells the story of ex-prisoner, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman).
The Bourne Identity (2002)
In this first movie of the Bourne franchise, secret agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) must overcome amnesia to unlock his identity and to elude his assassins.
Much of this fast-paced action thriller was shot in Paris. Check out the car chase!
Da Vinci Code (2006)
For a throw-your-brain-put-of-the-window movie night and an opportunity to ogle at some iconic sights in Paris, select the Da Vinci Code on Netflix.
Adapted from the first of Dan Brown’s trilogy, famous symbologist, Dr Rober Langdon (Tom Hanks) is in Paris to promote his book when he becomes embroiled in the murder of the curator of the Louvre Museum, Jacques Saunière.
This is not a great film – it wasn’t even a great book – but it is watchable and undemanding and showcases familiar, and less familiar, locations in Paris.
Set in 1959 and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Joanne Harris, Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), a young single mother, who arrives in the tranquil French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. Opening a chocolate shop, she persuades the villagers to yield to temptation just as Lent begins.
This warm-hearted film also features a wonderful score by Rachel Portman, just one of the five Academy Award nominations awarded to Chocolat.
Movies Set in France on Amazon Prime
There is a wider selection of movies set in France available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Although many of these films are not included in the subscription, you can rent or buy them to stream on the platform for a modest fee.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
For my money, this is Woody Allen’s best film in the last decade.
Midnight in Paris features Owen Wilson as a screenwriter and aspiring novelist who finds himself travelling back in time to the 1920s at midnight every night. The more time he spends with iconic heroes of the Jazz Age, art and literature, the more disillusioned he becomes with the present.
Much like Allen’s earlier masterpiece, Manhattan, was a love letter to New York City, Midnight in Paris is une lettre d’amour to 1920s Paris.
Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
I have a weakness for the MI franchise and the most recent offering did not disappoint.
This time around, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team race against time to prevent a nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Mission Impossible: Fallout is action moviemaking at its best and features an insane motorcycle chase scene around Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.
Pure, unadulterated escapism.
Are you in the mood for a dose of magical realism?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie paints the fantastical story of Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), a young French girl who spent her sheltered childhood creating a fantasy world of her own. Finally leaving home and finding work as a waitress in a Parisian cafe, she makes it her mission to help others find love and happiness. And then she falls in love herself.
Jeunet is quoted as saying that “every shot should be like a painting” and his supersaturated palette lends Paris a dreamlike quality.
An American in Paris (1951)
Fancy footwork from Gene Kelly set to a sweeping George Gershwin score: what’s not to like about An American in Paris?
In this multi-Oscar winning musical, Kelly plays Jerry Mulligan, an exuberant American ex-GI who remains in post-war Paris to try to make it as a painter and falls for the charms of Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). However, Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), a rich, lonely American heiress takes an interest in both Jerry and his art.
Was there ever a more divine pairing than Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn?
A genre-mixing gem of a movie, written and directed by Stanley Donen, Charade is Hitchcock with a sly wink.
Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) falls for the dashing Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. On her return to Paris, she discovers that her husband has been murdered, prompting her and Joshua to pursue three of her late husband’s World War II cronies, who are after the money the quartet stole while behind enemy lines.
But whom can she trust?
Funny Face (1957)
Audrey Hepburn’s second appearance on this list of films set in France, and this time she is paired with the veteran hoofer, Fred Astaire.
Fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is bowled over by the charms of Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), a shy bookstore employee he’s photographed by accident. Believing that she has what it takes to become a successful model, she agrees to go with him to France.
Expect images of Audrey Hepburn against Parisian backdrops, dance sequences and eye-popping colour. I don’t think that Funny Face has aged well – my advice is not to dwell on the 30-year gap between the two leads – but it is lightweight, entertaining fare and Paris looks glorious.
Anyone would think that I was an Audrey Hepburn fan.
Written and directed by the great Billy Wilder, this romantic comedy features Hepburn as chauffeur’s daughter Sabrina Fairchild who returns from two years in a culinary school in Paris, a sophisticated and beautiful woman. David (William Holden), the playboy son of her father’s employer, whom she has secretly loved for many years, woos and wins her.
But will love be thwarted by David’s older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart)?
Sabrina was remade in 1995 with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear in the roles originally played by Bogart, Hepburn, and Holden, respectively.
In a departure from his usual film genre, Martin Scorsese directed this critically acclaimed fantasy, chronicling the adventures of wily Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris.
Scorsese used various shooting locations in Paris, including the Sainte-Geneviève Library, the Sorbonne and the Théâtre de l’Athénée and its surrounding area in the 9th arrondissement.
Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the first of two animated movies set in France that I have selected for this list.
This loose Walt Disney adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Notre Dame de Paris, features the voices of Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Jason Alexander and Kevin Kline and shows off Paris in Technicolour glory.
Although this cinematic version of Hugo’s novel isn’t exactly slavish in its fidelity to the source material, it’s the next best thing to the 1939 film starring Charles Laughton, which is not currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
Ratatouille is a joyous movie.
This fast-paced and stunningly animated Pixar film features Remy (Patton Oswalt) is its unlikely hero.
Like most Parisians, Remy appreciates good food and has a refined palate, and he harbours a burning ambition to become a top chef. There’s only one problem; Remy is a rat.
Before Sunset (2004)
Jesse is in a Paris bookshop, reading from his book that recounts the night he spent with Celine in Venice. Celine finds him and they explore their feelings as they spend the day together before Jesse has to catch his flight out of France.
Be prepared to be bowled over by the romanticism and idealism of this movie.
Julie & Julia (2009)
If it’s French food porn that you are after, look no further than Julie & Julia.
This lightweight but charming movie, written and directed by the late, great Nora Ephron, features the ever-watchable Meryl Streep as Julia Child, the author of the landmark cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
The film flips between two narratives: how Julia Child conquered French cuisine, and the quest of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to prepare all 524 recipes in her cookbook.
Watch and salivate.
Moulin Rouge (2001)
I confess that I am not a massive fan of this Baz Luhrmann-helmed love story of a poet (Ewan McGregor) and a courtesan (Nicole Kidman), centred around the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in 1899. However, the music in Moulin Rouge is great, the set design is something to behold.
A giddy, over-the-top spectacle.
Le Divorce (2003)
I’ll put my hands up. This is not one of the best movies set in France by any stretch of the imagination.
Featuring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts, Le Divorce is a (very) broad modern comedy of manners that contrasts the culture and nature of the Americans and the French.
However, if you are in the mood for lightweight fluff, set against the backdrop of Parisian architectural eye candy, this could be the movie for you.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Are you in the mood for a virtual visit to the sublime Château de Versailles?
This forms the magnificent backdrop to this post-modern retelling of the life of the eponymous and controversial French queen played by Kirsten Dunst. Expect lavish imagery, a decadent wardrobe and a new-wave soundtrack in Sofia Coppola’s vision of Marie Antoinette’s spectacular fall from grace.
A Good Year (2006)
In this Ridley Scott-directed movie based on Peter Mayle’s best-selling novel, London banker Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) relocates to Provence to sell his Francophile uncle’s (Albert Finney) vineyard, the location of many of his childhood holidays.
A Good Year is an undemanding feel-good movie set among the vineyards and lavender fields of Southern France. My advice is to drink in the beauty and ignore the cliches.
A Prophet (2009)
Featuring a star-making turn from Tahar Rahim, A Prophet is a French drama-crime film written and directed by Jacques Audiard.
This acclaimed crime drama follows the life of Malik (Rahim), a young Muslim Frenchman, whose stint in prison transforms him from a shy, naive outsider into a hard-boiled criminal.
No list of movies set in France would be complete without this seminal piece of film-making.
Credited as one of the films that kicked off the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard’s crime movie tore up the movie-making rule book and, 60 years after its release, Breathless remains every bit as relevant today.
Were there ever two cinematic leads as effortlessly cool as Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo?
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Evocative and controversial, Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris is an exploration of pain and the need for intimacy, featuring a towering performance from Marlon Brando.
At the heart of this movie is the emotional crisis of its antihero (Brando) who, in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide, becomes obsessed with young Frenchwoman Jeanne (Maria Schneider), and they embark on an extended but anonymous sexual relationship.
Jean de Florette (1986)
Shortly after serving in the First World War, Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil) returns to his native rural Provence, intent on growing carnations on his property. However, the only water source for growing his flowers is a hidden spring on an adjoining property.
He naively conspires with his greedy uncle, Cesar (Yves Montand), to bankrupt the owner, Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu), to force him to sell.
Manon des Sources (1986)
Made back to back with Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources picks up where Jean de Florette left off.
Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), the daughter of Jean de Florette, seeks revenge on Ugolin and Cesar, whom she blames for the death of her father. But will love get in the way?
Battle of Algiers (1966)
I am delighted to see this classic French film appear on the Amazon Prime platform.
Battle of Algiers is considered to be one of the most important political movies of all time. Groundbreaking in many ways, it was shot in a gritty, black-and-white documentary style and depicts the Algerian struggle for independence from the French occupation.
La Haine (1995)
Let’s finish with a masterpiece.
For me, La Haine is one of the best films of the last 30 years, let alone one of the best French films.
This exploration of racial tensions in Paris follows three ethnically diverse young men the day after a riot sparked by the beating of a young Arab by police.
Restored in glorious 4K in 2020, this tense, multilayered drama packs a punch to this day. Take a look at this 90-second video or this thought-provoking article.
Moves Set in France: Final Thoughts
Whether you are a thwarted frequent flyer, looking for movies to watch before going to France, or are simply after recommendations for some good movies to pass the time at home, I hope that this list of my favourite films set in France has been useful.