James Bond holiday destinations #6 – France

The first time in the books that James Bond visits France is Casino Royale, when he is sent to the fictional town of Royale-les-Eaux to defeat Le Chiffre at the gambling tables.

However, he visits France on several occasions afterwards, including the drive down through France into Switzerland while tailing Goldfinger, or the events contained in the short story From A View To A Kill, which starts off in Paris; and at the end of From Russia With Love it is Paris where he and Tania confront Rosa Klebb, rather than Venice, as in the film.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

However, in the films there are a few locations to bear in mind. At the beginning of Thunderball James Bond dons a jetpack to take off from Château d’Anet, near Dreux, some 80 kilometres from Paris. Then to escape high taxation in the UK most filming on Moonraker was switched to France resulting, for example, in the use of locations such as Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte to stand in for Drax’s California mansion.

However, it is A View To A Kill that Paris is centre stage for a portion of the film, when James Bond tackles May Day on the Eiffel Tower and surroundings.

And then there is the Casino in Monaco (I know, not strictly France) at the start of Goldeneye or Marseilles, which 007 visits briefly in the book On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

City

Although the literary James Bond “cordially dislike[s]” Paris for pawning its heart to the tourists, which is, apparently, evident in the eyes of Parisians, the same can be said of most cities in these days of mass tourism.

He prefers to stay at the Terminus Nord hotel and drink at Harry’s Bar or Fouquet’s, while he likes to eat lunch at Café de la Paix, La Rotonde or Le Dôme, or his evening meal at Grand Vefour, Lucas-Carton or Au Cochon d’Or.

If this is your first time in Paris you shouldn’t forgo the Eiffel Tower, and can even dine in the rather pricey Restaurant Jules Verne, where Bond met the short lived Monsieur Aubergine in A View To A Kill; and you want to see the façade of SPECTRE’s headquarters in Thunderball, located art 35 Avenue d’Eylau.

Inland

From Le Touquet you can take a road trip down through Abbeville, then towards Beauvais and then towards Rouen and stay at the Hôtel de la Gare at Orleans, as Bond does in the book Goldfinger. Then drive the route that takes you through Nevers, Moulins, Mâcon, Bourg Pont d’Ain and then the sharp bends of the N84 before reaching the Swiss border.

Beach

You’ll need a car and some luck that the weather in northern France holds out to explore the coastline near the mouth of the Somme that appeared in Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale. Although Royale-les-Eaux is fictional, and Fleming’s descriptions of its location contradictory, you can spend some time driving along the N1 between Abbeville and Montreuil imagining you’re in Bond’s Bentley and then exploring the coast for the kind of quiet little seaside hotel that Bond and Vesper stay at the end of the book.

Getting there

For Paris you have the option of the budget airlines, or the Eurostar train from London, or to get to northern France you can take the train or a ferry, either as a foot passenger or with your car.

Further reading

on-the-tracks-of-007In On the Tracks of 007, Martijn Mulder and Dirk Kloosterboer take a comprehensive look at locations that appear in the films up to Quantum of Solace.

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