Visit 'Les Miserables' Movie Filming Sights in Paris, France & London

February 11, 2013

The Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning movie 'Les Miserables', based on the novel by Victor Hugo and widely successful musical, offers sightseeing and destination inspiration for travelers heading to England and France.

Because the Medieval streets of Paris were replaced with broad avenues by Haussmann, many of the actual streets of the movie no longer exist. And though the story is set in France of the 19th century, much of the film was filmed in England. Still, many places from the movie 'Les Miserables' (and some locations from the story itself) can be toured today in England and France. Below, we list the filming sites as well as the real places depicted in the story for a number of scenes from the movie.

Valjean labors at the docksThe Shipyard

The spectacular opening scene of the prisoners dragging the giant ship into port in Toulon was filmed at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in England, home to the HMS Victory.

In the actual town of Toulon, France, 45 minutes from Marseilles, the Navy Museum (Musée de la Marine), housing collections of naval history, and the Museum of Tour Royale, built in 1514 as a fort and later serving as a prison, are open for visitors.

Valjean Finds Redemption - Gourdon

The locale of Valjean's redemption sparked by the surprisingly kind act of the priest was the only 'Les Miserables' movie scene shot in France. Movie goers got a birds-eye view of the village of Digne-les-Bains, Gourdon.

This picturesque town, located in the Provence region of France sits atop a cliff with views of the coast. A drive from Cannes to Vence, can include stops in Grasse for the perfume museum, Gourdon, and Tourrettes-sur-Loup, another pretty town.

Valjean and Javert Cross Paths - Northern France

The French town where Valjean's fortunes changed for the better is Montreuil-sur-Mer. It's also the location of the red-light district where Fantine's life deteriorates. These movie scenes were shot in England at Kent's Chatham docks and the Ropery loft.

The real seaport town of Montreuil-sur-Mer, with its castle ruins and surrounding countryside, is an hour drive from Calais and 2 hours from Paris. Like many small towns in France, Montreuil-sur-Mer hosts a live show called Son et lumière, during the summer for visitors. The show is focused is on the 'Les Miserables' story and life of Victor Hugo.

Elephant of the BastilleElephant of the Bastille, Les Miserables

A replica of the Elephant of the Bastille, which sheltered Gavroche, the street boy, was built for the 'Les Miserables' movie in Greenwich, England, home of the Cutty Sark ship. Lamarque's funeral procession was also filmed in Greenwich, specifically at the Royal Naval College.

The original Elephant of the Bastille, a Paris monument built for Napoleon at the Place de la Bastille, no longer exists. In its place is the Colonne de Juillet across from the Opera Bastille, home of the Paris Opera.

Many travelers day trip to Greenwich, England combining Canterbury and Leeds Castle on the same excursion. In France, the Place de la Bastille is easily reachable by the Metro.

Young Couple Meets - Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Marius sees Cosette for the first time at Jardin du Luxembourg as she walks with Valjean. The actual park near St-Germain-des-Prés in Paris covers more than 60 acres of fountains, statuary, and cafes as well as a marionette theater for children.

Valjean Saves Marius in the Sewers of Paris

In the movie 'Les Miserables', Valjean carries Marius, who was shot in the revolt, through the sewers of Paris. On a trip to Paris, you can visit the Musée des egouts, the sewer museum, for an in-depth look into the history of the sewers from the middle ages until today.

Javert's Suicide - Bath

Javert's suicide in the Seine river was filmed at the Avon Weir by the Poulteney Bridge in Bath, England. Visit Bath as a day trip from London and tour the town with a small group. Or take an hour and a half train ride. Because the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with impressive architecture and the Roman Baths, it's worth spending a few days there. The actual location of the story in Paris is between the bridges of Pont Notre Dame and the Pont au Change.

Wedding of Cosette and Marius - Northamptonshire

The wedding was filmed at the 17th century residence of the Dukes of Buccleuch, Boughton House in Northamptonshire. Travelers may visit the estate on select days. The real setting St Paul's Church Saint Louis, located in the Marais district of Paris, is open daily.

Valjean's Death - Winchester

You can take a tour of the small Gothic chapel at Winchester College where the Valjean's death scene was filmed. The chapel is among the original buildings and retains its wooden fan-vaulted ceiling and a few sections of the original stainglass. Concerts are held here regularly.

To get there from London, trains depart from Waterloo station for the one hour trip. Once you arrive, you'll be able to get around the old town with its medieval buildings and shopping arcadeeasily on foot. Also, while you're there, visit the 13th century Great Hall of Henry III and , the only remaining part of Winchester Castle to see King Arthur's Round Table.

The few places that still retain some of the feel of Victor Hugo's Paris are Ile de la Cité home of Notre Dame Cathedral, areas of the Marais and St. Michel. Also during your trip to Paris, visit the Maison de Victor Hugo, the family home of Victor Hugo and museum dedicated to his life and work.

See also:
Map of 'Les Miserables' Sights in France


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