1 August 2012

007 Locations - Follow in the Footsteps of James Bond

James Bond celebrates 50 years on the big screen this year, marked by screenings all over the world of the classic films, a car exhibition in the UK and the release of BOND 50, a box-set of all 22 James Bond films on Blu-ray.

The high-flying spy has always inspired location envy, from James Bond Island in Phuket to the idyllic Bahamas and Jamaica. But for James Bond fans hoping to follow in his suave footsteps without breaking the bank, Europe also has plenty to offer. Mr Bond shows a particular affinity for the dramatic vistas of the Alps, the moneyed opulence of the French Riviera and the big, bombastic castles for which France is world famous.

For some Bond inspiration, here's a look at some of the most incredible European locations he loved, killed and smarmed in. An adventurous spirit and good walking boots required; Caddish behaviour and excessive drinking optional.

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Monaco's Monte Carlo casino is so suited to Bond's glamorous super-spy lifestyle that it stars in not one but two films: Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye. First opened in the 1850s, this opulent building is an iconic symbol of Monaco, and used to be Monaco's primary income source. For a true Bond experience, echo the films by playing Baccarat inside; or, relax on the terrace out front and watch the millionaires in their playground.

Cap D'Antibes, France

It was on the beach in front of the French Riveria's famous Eden Roc Hotel that Sean Connery's Bond displayed some rather ungentlemanly behaviour towards femme fatale Marie, in an effort to extract the whereabouts of villain Blofeld. The rest of the Cap d'Antibes is covered with villas of the superrich- Roman Abramovich rich. But if celebrity spotting isn't your thing, stroll to the old town of Antibes, which is more low-key and charming, or explore more of the French Riveira, whose amazing landscapes make it a hugely popular destination for guided walking holidays.

Chateau de Chantilly, France

Chateau de Chantilly is an impressive16th century castle sitting on a 20 acre site of landscaped gardens. The grounds contain a huge stables and the Hameau de Chantilly, a group of seven cottages which inspired Marie Antoinette's Hameau de la Reine in Versailles. It also houses the Musée Condé, an art gallery second only to the Louvre in France. The Chateau was in 1985's A View to a Kill as the sprawling estate of the evil yet strangely charismatic Max Zorin (although, he is played by Christopher Walken, also known as Mr Charisma.)

Piz Gloria, Switzerland 

Piz Gloria restaurant perches atop Schilthorn, a 2970 metre high summit of the Bernese Alps. The restaurant plays a starring role in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Blofeld's clinical research institute is here and Bond eventually blows the whole place up. Now, visitors can eat in the revolving restaurant perched atop the mountain. Piz Gloria's bar is called the James Bond Bar, you can order a James Bond breakfast- waffles, muesli and scrambled eggs are very Bond, apparently- and it shows clips of the film. For those seeking adventure holidays, the ski run in the film starts at the summit.

Verzasca Dam, Switzerland

Would you be brave enough to jump off a 720ft high dam? Mr Bond was, in the opening sequence of 1995's GoldenEye, garnering an award for best movie stunt of all time. Of course, he didn't need a bungee but you can have one-it is one of the most famous bungee-jump sites in the world. If that is all too high octane for you, then Lake Maggiore lies just upstream, an ever destination and perfect for trekking and walking holidays, water sports or just simply relaxing- with a martini of course.

Fort Antoine Theatre, Monaco

Theatre Du Fort Antoine is an 18th century fortress that was rebuilt in 1954 and reinvented as an outdoor theatre with tiered seating for up to 350 people. Though most of the plays are in French, it is free to visit and the views of the Mediterranean- and the yachts- are incredible. James Bond certainly agreed in GoldenEye, as he looked out at the harbour and at the speedboat of classic Bond female villain, Xenia Onatop.

Vaux-de-Vicomte, France

This 17th century baroque chateau is located in Maincy, just 55km from Paris. It was used as the house of Hugo Drax, the dastardly villain and creator of the Moonraker missile in the 1979 film of the same name. But you don't have to be a Bond fan to appreciate the enormous castle and moat, along with the perfectly landscaped and elaborate gardens that so typify the French style at the time. It's like a smaller version of Versailles, without all the tourists.

About today's Guest Writer:
Laura wonders what James Bond would take on walking holidays. Hiking boots that transform into a speedboat? A compass that doubles as a time bomb?

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