If there ever was a more effective advertisement for Paris tourism, the movie Midnight in Paris is it. It's an inspiring journey to an idealized version of Paris, the Paris we dream of visiting.
From the artists and writers whom the movie portrays remains a mystique so enduring that their stories and ideas impressed upon the places they inhabited. Details in the movie try to capture that feeling, like the distant glow of street lamps or swirling camera shots around someone entering a party already underway. Many of those places still exist.
The Latin Quarter figures prominently in the movie — particularly at night when the magic happens. At the stroke of midnight, Gil, the main character, begins his journey here at the softly lit Rue Montagne St. Genevieve. He later has a moment in front of the famous Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore, the haunt of 1920's writers, also in the Latin Quarter.
Much of Midnight in Paris takes place in hotels and cafes. Maxim's and Hotel Le Bristol stand out. Then there's the Moulin Rouge showing glimpses of a can-can dance with costumes and a style of the past.
Even if you've never traveled to France, you'll instantly recognize many of the popular sights from Midnight in Paris — Monet's Gardens at Giverny of the movie's opening; Versailles where the characters take a day tour; and the bridge, Pont Alexandre III of the closing scene, to name a few.
Museums are also featured from Mus?e Rodin and Mus?e des Arts Forains with its antique carousels, to the current home of Monet's water lilies, Mus?e de l'Orangerie. Among the outdoor spaces, characters venture through the markets of Paul Bert and Quai de la Tournelle and converse in Square Jean XXXIII near Notre Dame.
As we visit places of the past, it's hard not to hold on tightly to romantic notions of Paris. Bygone eras often seem more radiant and more intriguing. After all, Paris today is a real city full of all of the challenges of urban life. Still, the Gertrude Stein character of the movie, remarks that "The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote to the vast emptiness of existence." Traveling to Paris, with its beauty, history and art, can help.