December 15, 2012 6:45 PM   Subscribe

What short things can I watch/read to get in the mood for my upcoming trip to Paris?

I'm going to Paris on Wednesday for the first time. Yay! Normally before a big trip, I'd spend a lot of time reading and watching things about the place I'm going, but I haven't been able to do that this time.

However, I will have 15 hours of travel on Wednesday, and I can't sleep on planes. I'd like to load up my kindle and laptop with things I can watch/read to get into the proper Paris spirit.

Things to watch can be anything. I recently watched the No Reservations episode about Paris, which was perfect. Planning to watch Midnight in Paris while I pack tomorrow. I think I've seen most of the classic "Paris movies." Something in French with subtitles would be perfect.

For things to read, I would rather short things than novels/full-length books, since I don't have a lot of time. Longform articles/essays about culture/politics/arts in Paris (or, more generally, France) would be great, as would short stories or travel accounts.

I'll also be going to Ales (in the south, near Nimes) and would welcome any recs dealing with that area as well!
posted by lunasol to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If you haven't seen Amélie, I highly recommend it! In French, with subtitles, and one of the most charming movies I've ever seen.

Have a great trip!
posted by gursky at 6:59 PM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

2 Days In Paris.
posted by axiom at 7:02 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Second Amėlie, with maybe lesser films like Diva or Paris, Je T'aime as backups.
posted by jpburns at 7:03 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Paris to the Moon is a very nice collection of short stories. Also, Charade!
posted by estherbester at 7:08 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

The movie Paris (with Juliette Binoche) would be great for this, too. And A Moveable Feast makes for lovely airplane or cafe-sitting reading. Have a wonderful trip!
posted by argonauta at 7:35 PM on December 15, 2012

Paris, je t'aime! It's a collection of short films -- I don't think any one is longer than five minutes -- each one set in a different arrondissement (and by a different director). It's in French but should have subtitles.

Not every film will be to your liking, and they stylistically vary quite a bit, but they're all short and I think really give a flavor to the variety of the French capital. (The one for 14e gets me every time.) Have a good trip!
posted by andrewesque at 7:44 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Before Sunset?
posted by mannequito at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2012

For fun reading, grab a copy of David Sedaris collection of essays entitled "Me Talk Pretty One Day." Really funny account of his stepping into France with just a smattering of French. Plus he's just funny anyways.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:58 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Cuspidx at 8:35 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

A year in the Merde is funny, initially.
posted by bquarters at 9:19 PM on December 15, 2012

Seconding A Moveable Feast for anyone going to Paris.
posted by Rash at 9:25 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Entre le murs (The Class) is ostensibly a Paris film although I don't believe the camera shows anything but a school. It's fantastic and a good supplement to the "classis Paris movies" you've probably seen!
posted by acidic at 9:36 PM on December 15, 2012

I just loved Midnight in Paris.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:10 PM on December 15, 2012

Subway, a Luc Besson movie. It's cheesy. It's a bit rubbish. It's dated. It's brilliant.

Also: watch all 8 minutes of C'était Un Rendez-vous, a high speed nighttime race through the streets of Paris. You can usually find a copy of it online.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:21 AM on December 16, 2012

Sentimental Education by Flaubert is greater than great.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 5:28 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Une vie de chat! Animated, 65 minutes long and so, so much fun to watch!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:41 AM on December 16, 2012

FYI: This is the result of the Longform Search for "Paris".

Have a wonderful trip!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:47 AM on December 16, 2012

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. It's a quick, fun read. He talks a lot about social norms, politics, food, daily life. He also recommends places to eat and shop.
posted by Fairchild at 7:55 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want to go old school, you could try Ninotchka. It's all about being seduced by Paris.
posted by Diablevert at 8:36 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Read the first half of My Life In France by Julia Child! It's not all about Paris, but it's about going to France for the first time.

Ooh, and/or you could watch La bûche, which is not a GREAT movie but it is a movie about Paris and it's set at Christmas, so: relevant!
posted by mskyle at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2012

I found Paris to the Past very useful in getting the historical and architectural context for the places that we visited in Paris.

Not a recreational reading suggestion:
But HarperCollins Language Survival Guide: France was extraordinarily useful in navigating everyday French situations. I didnt have a lot of French when we went last Sept; this was easily the best trip related purchase I made before travel.
posted by justlooking at 11:20 AM on December 16, 2012

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