13 June 2012

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Films To Inspire A Trip To France

When I was younger I used to love hopping over the Channel to France to embark on cycling holidays and adventures which usually involved sleeping in odd places, meeting extraordinary people and requesting money from back home to ensure my safe return.

Before I’d set out on such experiences I’d often immerse myself in all things French including books, music and food, all of which flamed my desire for what I considered to be one of the most romantic and exciting countries on the planet.

These days, my passion for France hasn’t dwindled and although my bed and board tends to be of a slightly better standard to when I was younger, I still consider the cities and countryside to be just as enticing as they always were.

With the above in mind I’d like to suggest to you five very different films to inspire the joie de vivre that can only be experienced by visiting our continental cousins.

This beautiful romantic comedy follows the story of a shy yet imaginative Parisian waitress who endeavours to change the lives of the patrons at the café in which she works. As a matchmaker and do-gooder there is none finer than Audrey Tautou whose mischievous grin and childlike coquettish nature ensure that Paris will forever be remembered as a magical city of love and life.

Jean de Florette
We move south for our next film which stars Gérard Depardieu as Jean de Florette a hunchbacked tax collector who inherits a farm. Throughout the film both Florette and his neighbours, Papet and Ugolin, struggle to work the land thanks to a lack of water even though, unbeknown to Florette, there is a buried spring right on his farm. Although the film ends in tragic circumstances it does show-off the gorgeous flowers, hillsides and rural life of Provence which, in my book, makes it ideal for preparing for cycling holidays down south.

After committing a drug store robbery and killing a policeman, teenage junkie Nikita (played by Anne Parillaud) finds herself sentenced to life imprisonment. The twist in the tail is that her captors fake her death and offer her two choices: to become a secret government assassin or death, she chooses the former. With some wonderful Parisian locations, including the opulent le Train Bleu restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, Nikita does much to evoke the mysterious allure of a city that is as dangerous as it is enchanting.

The Triplets of Belleville
Although this is an animation it does nothing to dispel the attraction of French life and if you’re about to embark on a cycling holiday France style then watch this with a hunk of cheese and a bottle of vin rouge and you’ll enjoy it all the more. The film centres upon an elderly woman’s quest to rescue her grandson who has been kidnapped by the mafia and held for gambling purposes. The grandson in question is a medal winning cyclist in the Tour de France and, accompanied by three elderly music hall singers and an overweight dog, his grandmother proves to be more than a force to be reckoned with.

A film featuring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and the nostalgic village life of Burgundy in 1959, what’s not to like? The plot centres around Binoche’s character, Vianne Rocher, who arrives in an overtly pious village in central France whereupon she opens a deliciously seductive chocolaterie just when the town’s people are beginning to observe the forty days of abstinence decreed by Lent. River gypsies, emotional turmoil and some fine scenes of rural French life – ah, bliss.

So there ends my little trip down a cobbled French memory lane where femme fatales stalk within the shadows and delightful delicacies tempt you into a life of poppy fields, babbling streams and, of course, wine-stained picnic cloths.

About today's Guest Writer:
Chris can’t wait to experience the good life of France again and feel that cycling holidays and fresh baguettes are just around the corner.

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