There’s no better way to get in the mood for a trip to Provence, or indeed to reminisce upon your return home, than through the medium of the movie. Here are our favourite films set in Provence to whet your appetite.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Cary Grant & Grace Kelly (Côte d’Azur)
Classic Hitchcock crime caper on the Côte d’Azur in the golden era, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly messing about on the Riviera. It was while promoting this film that she met the prince of Monaco, who would quickly make her his Princess Grace.
And God Created Woman (1956)
Brigitte Bardot (St Tropez)
The film that launched Brigitte Bardot and put St Tropez on the map, taking it from sleepy little fishing village to the place to be seen.
Jean de Florette & Manon des Sources (1986)
Gerard Dépardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Yves Montand (Aubagne, Vaugines, Ansouis, Mirabeau)
A wonderful pair of films, faithful to the books of Marcel Pagnol, that made quite a splash on release in the 1980s – these films forged the idealised image of Provence and the region has never looked more beautiful on film.
La Gloire de mon Père (1990) & Le Château de ma Mère (1990)
(Aix-en-Provence, Vitrolles en Luberon, Aubagne, Grambois, Allauch, Charleval)
More Pagnol, with stories from his childhood around Aubagne, near Marseille. These recount a delightful childhood with much fondness and humour.
The Horseman on the Roof (1995)
Olivier Martinez, Juliette Binoche (Cucuron, Aix-en-Provence, Forcalquier, Manosque)
Swashbuckling historical romance based on a Jean Giono novel, set around Manosque, but with its famous rooftop scenes filmed in Cucuron in the south Luberon.
French Kiss (1995)
Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline (Château Val Joanis at Pertuis, Meyragues, La Tour d’Aigues, Cannes)
Charming rom-com, Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan at their 90s best, and his lousy French accent is part of the fun.
Robert de Niro, Jean Reno (Villefranche sur Mer, Nice, Arles)
Action thriller with a star-filled international cast and some great Provence locations amid the car chases and guns.
Swimming Pool (2003)
Charlotte Rampling (Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux)
Intriguing thriller with Charlotte Rampling renting a house between Menerbes and Oppède – at the end you are left wondering what exactly happened, but in a good way.
Love Actually (2003)
Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth (Marseille, Vidauban, Aix-en-Provence)
From the school of Four Weddings and Notting Hill, not obviously a Provence-based film, but there is a strand of the story that takes Colin Firth to Provence to fall in love.
A Good Year (2006)
Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard (Lacoste, Gordes, Chateau la Canorgue at Bonnieux & Cucuron)
Almost a love letter to the Luberon, this Peter Maye-scripted romance didn’t quite hit the high notes but the locations are gorgeous. If you are wondering where Russell Crowe’s house was in the film, it is the Chateau la Canorgue winery in Bonnieux.
Mr Bean’s Holiday (2007)
Rowan Atkinson (Oppède-le-Vieux, Cavaillon, Cannes, Avignon, Villefranche-sur-mer, Sault, Marseille)
Yes, Mr Bean’s holiday was in the south of France, and we see him in Cavaillon and Oppède-le-vieux, amongst others, as well as on the coast.
The seaside town of La Ciotat near Marseille holds a firm place in the history of cinema as the first public screening of a moving picture took place there in 1895 in the Eden Theatre – the oldest cinema still in existence in the world. The French have always loved the cinema and many villages benefit from ‘itinerant cinemas’ which, in the summer months, normally show films outdoors. Many foreign films are shown in ‘VO’ (the original version) with French subtitles so it’s worth checking out what’s on near where you’re staying.