I read many times about these Ciné-Balades, Cinema Walks around Paris, but until last week I never had the chance to follow one. Of course, when I heard that the new ciné-balade was about François Truffaut (in the 9th and 18th arrondissement, where I live!), I immediately decided to participate.
So there I was, last Saturday, with a bunch of unknown but very nice people.
The meeting point with Juliette, our guide, was in a very truffautian endroit, the church of the Trinité, in Place de la Trinité:
In the fountain in front of the church, after a night spent outside, Antoine Doinel in Les 400 Coups famously washes his face:
The second stop-over was an unexpected one: the Hotel Langlois, at 63 Rue Saint Lazare.
The third place we visited was Place Saint Georges: Truffaut used the Theatre Saint Georges as location for the theatre where the jewish director Lucas Steiner hides himself during the Paris occupation in Le dernier Métro (1980):
The next stop-over was always related to Henri Langlois: when his family moved from Turkey to Paris, he lived in Rue Laferrière, above the Place Saint Georges, and it was in his apartment (quite famously in its bath tub) that he was piling up all the film reels he could find before the creation of the Cinémathèque:
Truffaut spent his (sad) childhood just a couple of streets above this one, at the 33 of Rue de Navarin:
Antoine Doinel, his alter ego in Les 400 Coups, lives very close by, at n° 4 of Place Gustave Toudouze:
The school of Antoine Doinel and François Truffaut was not far away, the Lycée Jacques Decour, in Avenue Trudaine:
Avenue Trudaine is also the street where, in Baisers Volés (1968), Doinel as private detective follows a woman and the woman immediately understands somebody is following her!
In Les 400 Coups, Antoine Doinel very often finds a shelter for the night at his best friend's place. I didn't know that the interiors of René's parents house were filmed in a big apartment at n° 10 of Rue de Douai!
The exteriors, though, were filmed in the private street Avenue Frochot, which was an homage to Truffaut's favorite French film-maker, Jean Renoir, who lived many years in this gorgeous street:
Always in Rue de Douai, but this time at n° 41, there was the apartment of Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, who was the founder of the Cahiers du Cinéma together with André Bazin. In this apartment Truffaut filmed, in 1955, his first short-movie, Une Visite. Truffaut was so unhappy about it, that notoriously destroyed every copy of his first serious attempt to cinema. Probably the most interesting thing to say about this short movie is that the cinematographer was a certain Jacques Rivette, while the editor was a certain Alain Resnais...
In the near Rue Mansart, there is the restaurant owned by Jeanne Moreau's father, La Cloche D'Or. The place is still open and still looks quite charming:
Paris is a city full of great and beautiful cinemas, but I think that at the time of Truffaut's childhood, there were really incredible salles de cinéma! The greatest one was the famous Gaumont Palace, considered the "biggest cinema in the world": its theater could contain 6000 people. Built in 1899, completely renovated in 1931, the cinema was sadly closed in 1973. Now at the same address of Rue Caulaincourt, you can find an awful Castorama and a miserable Hôtel Mercure... Modern time suck!
The walk took end in front of the Montmartre Cemetery, where Truffaut is buried.
It was time for Juliette to show us the last piece of movie with her i-pad and super cute sound system:
Before leaving, one of the participants, a curator at the Montmartre Cemetery, told us the most incredible story: one day, in his office, Jean-Pierre Léaud showed up asking if it would have been possible to have the grave near the one of Truffaut for himself. When he was told that wasn't feasible, Léaud insisted again and again and left his phone number, praying them to call him if things would have changed. The curator and his colleagues found out, a bit later, that the grave was actually available. They called Léaud's number but in vane: they never had an answer.
Long live Antoine Doinel!
I wish to thank Juliette of Ciné-Balade for being such a lovely guide.
Dear readers, if you happen to be in Paris in the next weeks, the Ciné-Balade Truffaut is still going on. Don't miss it!