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Posts Tagged ‘French cinema’

Hugo Cabret inspired: Paris in the 1930s

November 30, 2011 12:57 pm
posted by Rebecca

1930s Paris gets the 3D touch in Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorsese’s new film Hugo Cabret is the story of a young orphan who lives in the walls of a bustling 1930s Paris train station, maintaining the clocks and working on his late father’s greatest ambition – a broken mechanical man. You can watch the Hugo Cabret trailer here:

To mark the imminent release of this magical film we thought we’d pay homage to its lavish back drop – Paris in the 1930s… an almost mythical decade when Hollywood vied with couture in Parisian fashion and electricity ignited the city for a new, modern era.  All to the backdrop of a groovy jazz soundtrack

And for starters here is a video of Paris in the ‘beautiful 1930s’ – and it’s not hard to see why this decade was chosen for Hugo Cabret’s fantastical world.

Artists in 1930s Paris 

1930’s Paris served as a flame to artistic souls, who were drawn to the City of Light, the world capital for the avant garde of free thinking intellectuals. Picasso and Hemmingway, Balthus and Louis Armstrong are just some of the names associated with the city during the ‘30s, when it became a hotbed of writers, artists and sculptors, film-makers and musicians.

Picasso's painting of the minotaur, the monster of Greek mythology—half bull and half human

The city also became the centre for the Surrealist movement, attracting the likes of Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.

Salvador Dalí and Man Ray in Paris, June 16, 1934, making "wild eyes" by Carl Van Vechte

Entertainment in 1930s Paris

French filmmakers such as Jean Renoir and René Clair – Paris born and bred – were amongst the vanguard, as Cinema became a recognised art form.

Film poster for ‘Under the Roofs of Paris’ by René Clair, 1930

From Edith Piaf, discovered in the Pigalle area of Paris by nightclub owner Louis Leplée in 1935, to Charles Trenet and Jean Sablon, Paris was also a hotbed of musical talent.

Jazz clubs were all the rage, with the likes of legendary jazz singer and dancer, Josephine Baker, taking the scene by storm.

Fashion in 1930s Paris

On set of Hugo Cabret... Costumes were designed by Sandy Powell

Paris fashion houses kicked off the decade with a return to the higher waist, longer skirt and the tighter silhouette line. But as the ‘30s progressed, theatrical costumes from the movies began to make an impact…

The 1930 spring issue of Good Housekeeping looks to the latest fashionable styles from Paris.

Hollywood had a lot to answer for in terms of the major fashions of the 1930s and Paris couture was no exception. Influential Parisian designer, Lucien LeLong said: “We, the couturiers, can no longer live without the cinema any more than the cinema can live without us.  We corroborate each others’ instinct.”

Italian born Elsa Schiaparelli – or “Schiap” as she was known to friends in Paris – was another designer to embrace Hollywood, dressing several stars along the way including Mae West in the 1937 film, Every Day’s a Holiday.

Puffed-sleeved gowns, lavish Scarlett O’Hara ‘barbeque’ dresses and tipped velvet hats were all the rage by 1939.

Schiap was also heavily influenced by contemporary artists from the growing Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, including Man Ray and Salvador Dali. In a telegraph to the editorial offices of Photoplay Magazine listing highlights of the 1938 Paris fashion scene, costume designer, Edith Head, wrote: “Paris says: Long waistlines, short flared skirts, fitted bodices, tweeds combines with velvet, warm colors…”

Jazz in 1930s Paris

And to unwind?  The intellectual elite and jazz hounds made a beeline for now legendary bistros including L’Ami Louis, Boeuf sur le Toit, La Coupole and The Vaudeville.

L’Ami Louis was legendary even back then, serving, it is claimed, “more game, especially ortolons and bécasses, than anywhere else in Paris, as well as a hundred lobsters every day”.

Picasso was allegedly a regular at Boeuf sur le Toit.  The ‘boeuf’ in this instance being French slang for a jam session.

The Vaudeville and La Coupole are two of the few remaining brasseries decorated by the Art Deco renowned Solvet brothers, La Coupole especially was frequented in the ‘30s by the likes of Man Ray and Josephine Baker.

Iconic sights around 1930s Paris

Developments such as the Le Stade de Roland Garros, home of the French Open – built at the end of the 1920s – became synonymous with progress and the modern world typified by Paris in the 30s.

TVs made an appearance in the homes of Parisians whilst Peugeot and Citroens became common sights on the city’s streets (even the odd Bugatti!).

In architecture, the geometric shapes created by Le Corbusier changed the face of the modern building.The Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne took place in Paris in 1937. The Musée de l’Homme was founded by ethnologist, Paul Rivet, specifically for the occasion.

So there you have it – simmering with artistic geniuses, 1930s Paris built on the city’s unique cafe culture and reputation for innovation to become a mecca for artists, singers, actors, authors and designers. So if you fancy a Parisian adventure of your very own, Pierre & Vacances has a range of self catering aparthotels in the heart of the city.

Hugo Cabret is in cinemas 2 December 2011. 



Top 10 French lifestyle blogs and websites

February 18, 2011 10:19 am
posted by Rebecca

Besotted by France and French Culture?  Perhaps not as much as these wonderfully France-centric sites. Here, we’ve pulled together our top Francophile blogs and websites for your enjoyment.


The ultimate orgy of all things ‘France’, if you’ve ever been tempted to ‘Frenchify your life’,  you could do worse than to start right here.  Francophila also offers a community where you can connect with other France fans.

French Music blog

A lovingly put-together site for English speaking French music fans – blogger Celeste proclaims that her love of French music truly began when she heard Les Nubians’ song “Makeda” when it came out on American radio in 1998.

Films de France

Films de France is one of the best online resources for finding DVDs of classic French movies. Whether it’s Films D’Amour, La Nouvelle Vague or 1930s productions from the golden age of French cinema, there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge your passion for Francophile flicks.

Garance Doré

Chic French fashion illustrator Garance Doré blogs about style, fashion and provides a unique insight into her life as a fashion insider. Luckily for us, there’s an English language version of her blog too.

La Tartine Gourmande

La Tartine Gourmande is a fantastic source for delicious recipes as well as a feast for the eyes. Traveller, food stylist, photographer and writer Béa takes us on an exciting journey of cerises, pommes and plenty of choclolat!

La Fourchette

La Fourchette S’est Emballée is bought to us by Leslie Ray from the lavender fields of Provence, South of France. Fork in hand, Leslie guides us through her world of fabulous recipes, classical music and images from her quaint surroundings.

French Essence

Australian writer Vicki Archer divides her time between London and Saint Rémy de Provence in southern France where she lives on an olive farm. Her published works which focus on her idyllic lifestyle and impeccable taste include, MY FRENCH LIFE and FRENCH ESSENCE.

Normandy Life

Blogger Maggie moved to Normandy 14 years ago to renovate a part 16th, part 18th century Presbytere. Her beautiful photography, and interior design led musings make for a very aesthetically pleasing blog.

Nicer in Nice

Nicer in Nice is described by blogger Vics as the “Everyday adventures of an English girl living in South of France.”  Very entertaining they are too – oh, and she loves musicals.

A Bitch About Brittany

A blog for all you city folk wondering what a switch to country life entails. Replacing high heels with clogs, the glamorous and effervescent ex Londoner Gillian O’Donovan gives us an insight into her life in rural Brittany which she shares with a cast of many two and four-legged friends.

Inspired? Start planning your French holiday with number one France accommodation expert Pierre & Vacances here: