Ah, the South of France! The light, the warmth, the glamour! If you are missing the Cote D’Azur or just need some inspiration before you go, then try these movies set in the South of France:
Top Films From The South Of France
- Priceless (Hors de Prix)
- To Catch a Thief
- Never Say Never Again
- Under the Cherry Moon (Prince)
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
- And God Created Woman
- Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
- French Kiss
- Grace of Monaco
- Magic in the Moonlight
- Year of the Jellyfish (L’année des méduses)
Priceless (Hors de Prix)
If you need some South of France glamour then you must watch Priceless. Starring Audrey Tatou, it tells the tale of a con artist who charms her way into a luxurious lifestyle of extravagant hotels and a beautiful wardrobe of clothes.
Set across the South of France from Monaco to Biarritz this is a wonderfully witty film (ignore the bad reviews) that brings glamour and humour onto your screens. Priceless also appears in my best dressed list of Top Fashion Films.
To Catch a Thief
Possibly the most famous movie set in the South of France. Cary Grant leads as the reformed cat burglar that needs to catch a new thief in order to convince people he has retired; all whilst falling in love with Grace Kelly.
The 1952 Hitchcock Classic was set along the Cote D’Azur with plenty of action in Vieux Nice, shots of the Negresco and across to Cannes. Grant’s ‘pad’ is a beautiful farmhouse set high up in the Provence hillsides.
See this map for all of the ‘To Catch a Thief’ South of France locations.
Never Say Never Again
The Sean Connery remake of Thunderball crisscrosses the globe from London to the Bahamas, with a key action sequence set in the narrow streets of Villefranche Sur Mer, just outside Nice. (It is also where the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street, but you don’t see that!)
Largo’s yacht is also filmed in the bay off Villefranche so you’ll see a good slice of the South of France.
The baddie’s fortress, ‘Palmyra’ is actually the old fort in Antibes, in the South of France standing at the North end of the harbour. (For other bond movies in the South of France watch Goldeneye & Diamonds are Forever.)
Under the Cherry Moon
Shot entirely in the black & white, Prince’s follow up the smash hit Purple Rain was overlooked by many. This wonderfully funny movie set entirely in the South of France with two playboys Christopher Tracey and Tricky (Prince & The Time’s Jerome Benton) seducing beautiful elderly ladies to fund their lifestyle.
Many of the locations aren’t officially stated but you can see the Villa Rothschild, Nice Ville, The Carlton in Cannes, The Hippodrome in Nice, as well as wonderful aerial shots of the Cote D’Azur coastline.
The soundtrack is pretty cool, too. You might have heard of Parade?
A cool action movie from director John Frankenheimer (French Connection II) set mainly in Paris with action spreading down to the South of France. Expect to see shots of Nice, the Cannes coastline, and interiors from the Majestic Barriere on the Croisette.
One of the greatest car chases in cinematic history is shot in the narrow streets of Villefranche Sur Mer, the same location for Never Say Never Again a decade before.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Yet another film about con men (and women!). The fictitious town of ‘Beaumont-sur-Mer’ is actually Beaulieu-sur-Mer, East of Nice.
And God Created Woman
Famous for launching Brigitte Bardot, this South of France movie was set in and around St Tropez with most of the action taking place on the beautiful waterfront.
The now legendary movie is worth a watch just to see St. Tropez as it was back in the day, although much still remains of its charm if you visit today.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Like many British movies, the action very quickly moves from London to the South of France (where it is always sunnier). Not only is this a great film, but you also get to see a lot of the Cote D’Azur including the Hotel du Cap in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Meg Ryan flies to France to confront her wandering Fiancé only to meet Kevin Kline’s french crook. After time in Paris, the two head to Cannes, checking in at the Carlton
Grace of Monaco
This movie was panned by critics but I love it! Nicole Kidman stars as the movie star turned Princess and her life in Monaco as she struggles with marriage and her own identity.
Beautifully shot, this movie uses Monaco as its base with wider stories playing in beautiful Italian villages.
Magic in the Moonlight
I still haven’t yet seen this yet, but it stars Colin Firth so it can’t be all bad, can it? This Woody Allen movie follows the tale of an Englishman brought in to uncover a possible swindle – with hilarious consequences.
This movie will take you to some beautiful South of France locations including L’Opèra in Nice, Villa Eilenroc Antibes and Villa La Renardière, Mouans-Sartoux.
From the movie stills, this looks beautifully shot and one that will be lighting up our television very soon. (On location – Magic in the Moonlight)
Year of the Jellyfish (L’année des méduses)
This 1984 French movie featuring a young Valerie Kaprisky (later appearing with Richard Gere in Breathless) tells the story of beautiful young Chris who has falls for her mother’s lover and tries to attract his attention. Mubi explains it as, “A young Valerie Kaprisky, along with many other beautiful people, prance around semi-nude on the French Riviera.” I haven’t seen this one yet so I cannot comment!
Movies Set In France To Consider…
Rust & Bone (De rouille et d’os)
Another which I have yet to see this and I believe this one is not an easy watch! But, it is set in the South of France, featuring Antibes and Nice.
Le Grand Bleu
Though not really a French movie, so doesn’t really count as most of it is filmed in Greece and Sicily… It gets a mention here not only because it is one of my favourite movies but also because the Dolphin sanctuary, a key part of the story, is Marineland in Biot, between Cannes and Nice.
Manon Des Sources, Jean de Florette
These fabulous movies (and stories) are set in the South of France but more in the mountains and towards Provence. Beautiful for the light and charming story but you won’t get much of the Cote D’Azur!
Transporter 1 & 2
A far cry from the class of ‘To Catch a Thief’, but these gritty action blockbusters see Jason Statham punch and kick his way across the South of France. Notable locations include Cassis, near Marseilles which acted as a key plot location in Transporter 2. (More info)
Johnny English Strikes Again
Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling super spy is back for another espionage venture. I’ve only seen the trailer but when the quote is, “let’s go to the South of France” (or somesuch) my ears prick up. I’m not saying it will be any good but it will feature some stunning French locations.
What About Television Shows?
This French TV series on Netflix focuses on the Mayor of Marseille (Gérard Depardieu) as he battles his protégé for control of the city. The second series has been released and continues to showcase the beauty of Marseille. If you haven’t seen it yet, then I do highly recommend watching!
Expect great drama, skullduggery, southern France sunshine, and a fair dose of French naughtiness.
Riviera (Sky TV)
Riviera is the 2017 TV series from Sky. Set exclusively in the South of France, this cinematic TV series focuses on the exploits of a wealthy family and its questionable associations with the underworld.
In real life, the family home is Chateau Diter, named after the French businessman that had it built a decade ago. Set in the hills of Grasse, behind Cannes, you can rent the place if you have a spare million or two!
The series itself combines opulent glamour with gripping thriller taking you around Nice, Cannes and up to Monte Carlo. We loved the series and again, I highly recommend.
See here for my Riviera Sky Atlantic TV Series Review.
I’m Still Standing – Elton John
Elton’s Love Letter to the South of France. This music video shot on and around the Cannes Croisette also includes plenty of time outside the Carlton and a fleeting glimpse of the Negresco.
Let Me Know Your French Film Recommendations…
Thanks for Reading 🙂