Films to help you dream of France—before you arrive!

From the heights of the Alps to the hills of Provence and the beaches of Brittany, France doesn't lack for cinematic scenery. Directors have noticed this through the years, and have known how to present these landscapes like the stuff of great paintings. Before setting sail to France, get inspired by these films!

In the midst of cicadas in Provence: Jean de Florette (Claude Berri, 1986)

Written and directed by Claude Berri, this adaptation of the eponymous novel by Marcel Pagnol came into theatres in 1986. The film takes us to the middle of the 20s, in the heart of Provence. Cicadas, scrubland, and singing southern French accents: the setting is almost a character of its own. Young Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil), returns from military service with a dream: to grow carnations. His uncle "le Papet" (Yves Montand) is determined to do anything help his nephew—even lie, cheat, or manipulate. Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) will pay for it. The film is a mythical drama with some of the greatest French actors, and perfect fodder to dream of the hills of the Var, the Luberon, Vaucluse and the Gard.

Trailer (External link)

With the shepherds in the Alps: Belle & Sébastien (Nicolas Vanier, 2013)

Here is a story that generations of French children were raised on: Belle & Sébastien was originally a series of novels, then TV shows, written in the 1960s by Cécile Aubry about the friendship between a little boy and a wild dog, honoring the mountain setting and shepherds that live in it. In 2013, the adventure writer Nicolas Vanier took hold of this myth to create the film. Eighty percent filmed in the Haute-Maurienne Valley and the Vanoise in the Alps, the film also explores the Ambel Plateau in the Vercors. Just watching this one makes you feel the fresh Alpine air (and it's perfect for a family movie night)!

Trailer (External link)

On a farm on the high plateaux of the Vercors: Une hirondelle a fait le printemps (The Girl from Paris) (Christian Carion, 2001)

Released in 2001, this film is surprisingly relatable today: the main character, played by Mathilde Seigner, is bored in an office job in Paris. She decides to embark on a "return to nature" trip (very fashionable today) and opts to tour the marvelous landscapes of the high plateaus of Vercors. The massif-which stretches between the departments of Isère and Drôme-serves as a backdrop for her story, which depicts Seigner deciding to buy Michel Serrault's (perfect in the role of a rascal old grump who decides to lead life hard for the young Parisian) farm. The new arrival and old hand form a bond as lovely as the scenery.

Trailer (External link)