May 27, 2015

The ruins of Belchite, featured in Pan's Labyrinth

The varying landscapes of Europe have inspired the creative minds of countless directors over time, and have yielded some of the world's most iconic films. I love going to the cinema in my spare time, so when it comes to travelling through Europe, I'm often on the lookout for film locations to visit. Here are some of my favourite spots, for movie buffs to enjoy.

Amélie - Paris, France

Since its release in 2001, Amélie has become one of the most iconic French films in popular culture. The protagonist, Amélie (Audrey Tautou), lives and works in Paris, where the film is shot. Constantly secretive, she quietly influences the lives of those around her. The film portrays a very charming Paris and is shot across the city, but my favourite spot is the Café des 2 Moulins, found in the Montmartre district. Amélie's workplace, the inside of the café has the same beautiful art deco features as in the film, and they serve fantastic coffee!

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The outside of Café des Deux Moulins

Other spots that I like to visit include the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, where Amélie's mother meets her untimely death, and the greengrocers Au Marche de la Butte, on Rue Androuet. One of the most moving scenes from the film is when Amélie helps a blind man walk through the market, eventually leaving him at the Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt, which can be found on Rue Caulaincourt.

Pan's Labyrinth - Spain

Undoubtedly one of my favourite films, Pan's Labyrinth is a haunting tale of life under the Franco regime, in 1940s Spain. As her mother falls increasingly ill, and her surroundings become more and more distressing, the main character Ofelia wanders upon an overgrown labyrinth and inside finds a faun, who gives her a series of tasks to complete.

This scene, as well as those showing the rebels' camp, is shot in and around the beautiful Guadarrama Mountains, which are part of a national park and are fun to explore on foot. The mythical ruins depicted in the opening scene of the film are actually those found at Belchite, just south of Zaragoza. Since its destruction in 1937 this site has remained in ruins, and is a magical place to visit to see the remains of Gothic and Baroque architecture.

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The ruins at Belchite, featured in Pan's Labyrinth

The Sound of Music - Salzburg, Austria

A film with the most recognisable soundtrack of all time, and one of my personal favourites, The Sound of Music is based on a true story, depicting the Von Trapp family and the inspirational nun, Maria. Many of the scenes were shot in and around the city of Salzburg, and it's a really great place to visit with all the family if you're a fan of the film, like me.

The film opens with aerial views of the stunning Salzkammergut district, and the landscape here is breath-taking. If you're keen to run through the hillsides of Austria, just as Maria did, then head to Mehlweg, where you'll be greeted with luscious green fields and a picturesque mountain backdrop.

Personally, I love taking my children to Mirabelle Palace, where the song 'Do-Re-Mi' was filmed, and we often hum the tune together! Many of the battle scenes were shot at St. Peter's Cemetery, so if you have time, I'd recommend visiting this spot during your stay.

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Mirabelle Gardens and Mirabelle Palace were used for The Sound of Music

The Bourne Supremacy - Berlin, Germany

If you're a fan of action films, you've probably seen the Bourne series, a fast-paced set of films that focus around Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), former Treadstone operative, who is trying to piece together his identity. The Bourne Supremacy is the second instalment, and a lot of it is filmed in Berlin, Germany. The film's first scene in Europe is at the Zoologischer Garten Station, where agents attempt to flush out a CIA mole.

Later, Bourne is held at the Eingangsbereich Nord building of Messe Berlin, a sleek, contemporary building, used today as a convention centre. When characters Ward and Nicky meet, we're told that it is in Amsterdam, but the filming location is actually Walter-Benjamin-Platz, in Berlin. This area is dotted with chestnut trees and art deco features, and is a pleasant place to stroll through with a coffee. There are loads of other spots in Berlin where the film was shot, so why not see how many you can find.

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Walter-Benjamin Platz features in several scenes of The Bourne Supremacy

Why not use this list of film locations during your next trip to Europe?

Travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle will take you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so you'll be looking out for movie stars in no time.

Photo Credits:
The outside of Café des Deux Moulins - Mario Sánchez Prada on Flickr
Spain's Guadarrama Mountains, featured in Pan's Labyrinth - Héctor Esteban Menéndez on Flickr
The ruins at Belchite, featured in Pan's Labyrinth - Paco CT on Flickr
Mirabelle Gardens and Mirabelle Palace were used for The Sound of Music - Mihal Bojin on Flickr
Walter-Benjamin Platz features in several scenes of The Bourne Supremacy - Metro Centric on Flickr
The ruins of Belchite, featured in Pan's Labyrinth - Image by Flickr user Marcello Vicidomini

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