A Bout de Souffle (Breathless), 1959



visit the film locations

Paris flights: Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Hotel: Les Rives de Notre Dame, 15 quai St Michel (tel: +331.

Visit: Cinema Mac-Mahon, 5 avenue Mac-Mahon (Métro: Étoile)


For a somewhat cuter look at Paris, try Amelie.

Jim McBride's 1983 remake of Breathless relocates the action to Los Angeles

A Bout de Souffle film location: rue Campagne Premiere, Paris

A Bout de Souffle filming location: Belmondo gets Breathless: rue Campagne Premiere, Paris

Much of the subsequent action centres around the Champs Elysées. The entrances to the George V Métro station itself are where Michel gives the slip to the detectives before striking poses in front of Humphrey Bogart stills in a movie house lobby. The much-modernised cinema is the Cinema Normandie, 116 bis Champs Elysées, next to the Lido de Paris.

A Bout de Souffle film location: rue Campagne Premiere, Paris

A Bout de Souffle filming location: Michel gives the slip to the detectives : George V metro station entrance, Champs Élysées, Paris

At the top of the Champs stood the Pergola, the spacious first floor café where Patricia meets journalist Van Doude, and southwest is the avenue Montaigne, home of Paris’ swishest designer stores. Here, in front of the Christian Dior store, 30 avenue Montaigne, Patricia dreams of posh frocks while Michel shows off his savvy, knowing that this was the place to make phone calls for free.

Briefly leaving the city centre, Patricia interviews novelist M Parvulesco on the terrace of what was, in 1959, Paris’ main airport, Orly, about 45 minutes south of the city. ‘Parvulesco’, incidentally, is another director’s cameo, by Jean-Pierre Melville who made the excellent Alain Delon thriller Le Samourai (which shares some of this film’s locations).

A Bout de Souffle film location: Cinema Mac-Mahon, avenue MacMahon, Paris

A Bout de Souffle filming location: Jean Seberg ditches the cops at Cinema Mac-Mahon, avenue Mac-Mahon, Paris

Back on the Champs, it’s Patricia’s turn to be tailed, through crowds watching a (real) visit of General de Gaulle and President Eisenhower to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

Like Michel, Patricia’s evasive action also ends, unsurprisingly, in a movie house. She leaves the cops flummoxed, ducking through the Cinema Mac-Mahon, 5 avenue Mac-Mahon, just off L’Étoile, which is still very much in business, though sporting a slightly spruced-up frontage.

A Bout de Souffle film location: rue Campagne Premiere, Paris

A Bout de Souffle filming location: Left Bank hangout: Le Select, boulevard Montparnasse, Paris

The night scenes shift south of the Seine to the pseud’s paradise that was the Left Bank. Michel and Patricia take off for St-Germain in a stolen car, taking time to admire the sparkling lights of Place de la Concorde en route.

They end up further south in the midst of the clutch of famously arty hangouts on the boulevard Montparnasse at its junction with boulevard Raspail (metro: Vavin). Of the two bars used as backdrop to the scene, The Kosmos, which stood at 101 boulevard Montparnasse, has closed, but Le Select, 99 boulevard Montparnasse, is still packing them in, as is La Rotonde, which the couple drive past on the way to the haven of Zumbach’s girlfriend’s place.

A Bout de Souffle film location: rue Campagne Premiere, Paris

A Bout de Souffle filming location: the last night in the photographer’s studio: 11 rue Campagne Première, Paris

This is the photographer’s apartment where the pair spend their last night, only a couple of blocks south of boulevard Montparnasse, at 11 rue Campagne Première. Running northeast from boulevard Raspail, the quiet sidestreet has long been a magnet for artists. Modigliani, Miro, Picasso, Ernst, Giacometti and Kandinsky have all, at some time, called it home.

Michel makes his doomed attempt to outrun a police bullet down the centre of the red-brick road, ending up – literally breathless – at the southern T-junction of rue Campagne-Première with boulevard Raspail (metro: Raspail).

James McBride's underrated 1983 remake of Breathless, with Richard Gere, is set in Los Angeles.

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