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I'll Always Have Paris -- And the Steps from 'Midnight in Paris'
June 28, 2011  | By David Bianculli

Yes, I'm back from Paris.


Thanks to Diane Werts and Eric Gould for keeping things running while I was gone (all I wrote were BEST BETS, while watching the view out my window of, sigh, the Notre Dame cathedral. I'm enjoying, and blocking, the view, at right.)

And thanks to another Eric -- long-dormant TVWW contributor Eric Mink -- for writing a terrific first-week analysis of Keith Olbermann's new show, a column you can read HERE.

And after reading that, return to this column for a picture or two from Paris... including those magical time-travel steps in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris...


Before I went to Paris, I set two geeky goals for myself, both tied to my love of pop culture

One was to get a Dobie Gillis pose in front of Rodin's The Thinker.

The other was to find the steps where Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris found himself wandering and waiting at midnight when a car wound up the winding street to whisk him away on a magical mystery tour into the Parisian past.

Check and check.

I don't have the Rodin photos transferred yet, but -- figuring that others may have loved Midnight in Paris as much as I did -- here is my 12-step program to finding the marble stairs featured in the movie. Actually, there are nine steps on that staircase, and only three in my list, but you get my drift.

Step One. See Midnight in Paris, or none of this will make any sense.


It's playing nationwide right now in the States, but it's also playing in Paris. Again, by accident, I found a theater playing it in that city (see photo at top), but who needs to watch the imported version when it costs less for the domestic?

Notice the details on the photos with Owen. The railing in the background. The curved steps. The curved street. The stanchions, or whatever they are, dividing the street from the stone walkway.


Step Two. Check out this photo of me, taken while enjoying my first of many amazing baked treats of the trip. (Papa's Got a Brand New Baguette!) The building in the background at far right is the Pantheon, which should give anyone familiar with Paris all the information needed to find this particular street. Streets spread out from the Pantheon circle like spokes from a wheel. One of those spokes is the street on which I'm sitting.

I'd give the name of the street, to make it official, but I don't want it on my conscience that, by identifying the road on which Woody Allen filmed Owen Wilson's character being picked up and whisked to the past, I might singlehandedly turn Paris into some sort of tourist destination.

It's perfect just the way it is. Who needs tourists?

Step Three. Anyway, the view looking down the street from the steps is shown below, at the end of this column. Compare the details to those in photos from the movie, and I rest my case.

And, once again, my feet...





Eileen said:

Forget Paris -- is the cat o.k.?

Just kidding. This looks delightful...& very wry.

[Yes. The cat lives. That darn cat. -- DB]

Comment posted on June 28, 2011 1:10 PM

jan said:

How neat! I loved the movie, and I think it would be so neat to have a picture on the steps. I went to the Pantheon many years ago now, but, of course, the steps wouldn't have meant anything particular at that time. I tend to use both movies and literature: HAD to see the Moundsville Penitentiary ("Night of the Hunter"), the house in Rome where Keats died by the Spanish steps, the Coliseum where the assignation took place in Edith Wharton's "Roman Fever," the Rodin Museum because of "Camille Claudel" -- well, you get the idea. And when I was at the Rodin Museum, the roses were in bloom with the biggest, most gorgeous blossoms I had ever seen -- just like you could see in the background in "Midnight in Paris." Brought back memories. Glad you had a wonderful trip. And thanks for posting the pictures and the instructions (just in case I ever get back there).

[Wow, Jan. We're on the exact same wavelength. Sounds like you'd make a great travel buddy. By the way, near where I live is the White Castle that was the destination point in the first "Harold & Kumar" movie -- and someone recently tore it down. Didn't it deserve at least a shot at landmark status? -- DB]

Comment posted on June 28, 2011 3:25 PM

Hoppy said:

Nice shirt. Brings new meaning to "the ugly American."

[You should hear my French. I tried, but Mon Dieu, did I fail. -- DB]

Comment posted on June 29, 2011 7:28 AM

Mark N said:

Dear David
Going to see the movie tomorrow(doing a double feature with Tree Of Life). And so happy to see how happy you appear in your photos...nothing in the world like dream vacation. Now catch up on your TV...I need another review of Covert Affair.

[So what did you think of Paris at Midnight? Best Woody Allen comedy in YEARS, right? -- DB]

Comment posted on June 29, 2011 8:30 PM

Sally W. said:

I'm envious! You can't go wrong to look for a non-tourist trap in Paris. Also, now I think that I should see the movie, if only for the views of Paris... (well, I liked seeing the stunning visuals of "Cars 2" and hearing Owen Wilson's amiable voice as Lightening McQueen anyway).

Comment posted on July 1, 2011 1:59 AM

Eileen said:

In reading your "Best Bets" for Saturday, there is so much irony in "Waitress".

Adrienne Shelly was brutally murdered in NYC a few years back; I believe it was before her movie was released. Her poor husband was initially the focus, but mercifully for him it turned out to be a construction worker in her office apartment.

Jeremy Sisto is in "Waitress", but was also in Law & Order. Law & Order SVU did an episode, as they say, ripped from the headlines, relative to Adrienne's murder.

And, to his credit, her husband started a foundation in her honor for fledging film makers.

Very sad story...

[Nicely written and noted, Eileen. And another reason why we're working, with the upcoming re-redesign, to incorporate a space for readers to react to the daily Best Bets. Thanks. -- DB]

Comment posted on July 2, 2011 11:02 AM

Mark N said:

Dear David
I loved the movie! And I kept thinking of "The Purple Rose Of Cairo", one of my other favorites. I thought it used Paris in a wonderful way. Just for the record, the much disputed "Tree Of Life"(which I saw the same day) was a rare treat, as Terrence Malick makes so few films. I'm pretty sure everyone will have their own response to it. But it was unique and worthy for me.

Comment posted on July 2, 2011 7:46 PM

CAthy said:

Welcome home (bienvenue??). Alas, I was in Paris in March before I saw the movie. You're lucky to be able to tic and tie some landmarks to the movie sets. I guess I'll just have to go back!! p.s. Loved the movie. Great job by the whole cast, but particularly Wilson, who carried the movie.

Comment posted on July 3, 2011 10:45 AM

S.K.B. said:

Just like you described, looking forward to finding & sitting on the same steps ... I should see the movie once again before i go...

[Have a great time. Find the steps, and take your time with that and everything else. No matter which street you turn down, you can't go wrong. -- DB]

Comment posted on July 5, 2011 9:09 PM

missyp said:

I found them here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/77503858/midnight-in-paris-steps-8x10-fine-art

[What a great find. Follow this link, and you'll get a much better photo than I provided ogf the steps from Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris movie. The photo doesn't have ME in it -- which makes it even better. -- DB]

Comment posted on July 10, 2011 10:21 AM

Livia said:

Please, which the name's street where the car pick up Gil?

[I couldn't tell you -- but one of my dearest friends, who went to Paris after I did and hunted down the same street, can. The street, she says, is in front of the Saint Etienne du Mont church. Her report:

"Walking directions: when facing front steps of the Pantheon, walk to left side, follow toward backside, there will be steps on your right where Owen sat. (The camera faked the angle). Look straight ahead, down the very small street, then a bit to your left, when sitting, and the magical scene will be apparent for all to see....

"The actual church address:
Eglise Saint-Etienne-du-Mont‎
Place Sainte-Geneviève
75005 Paris"

Thanks, Kelbe! -- DB]

Comment posted on August 13, 2011 12:55 AM

amelie said:

about step #2
Paris is the is the most visited city in the world. Your revealing any information you have is not going to make any noticeable difference. connard.

[Ah, but if they have yet to discover irony or sarcasm, then my words ring true... - DB]

Comment posted on August 25, 2011 7:56 PM
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