There are lots of ways to get yourself properly stoked for a trip (if you aren't already just by virtue of it being a chance to GTFO). If you're like Jen and me, maybe you do this with obsessive color-coded Google docs, late nights spent scouring TripAdvisor, or reading Lonely Planet guides cover to cover. Or, if you're not like Jen and me (i.e., you are normal and sane), you might park yourself on the couch and get your Netflix on.
Admittedly, from the moment Jen and I booked Paris (in March of last year) until the moment we left (last September), I was bouncing off the walls with excitement, no film list or Instagram after Instagram of macarons needed. But! Jen and I did both watch some movies to get even more excited. Without further adieu, my Watch Before You Go, Paris edition.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
For me, Woody Allen movies are really hit-or-miss, but I absolutely love this one. Owen Wilson plays a screenwriter who, while on vacation with his bitchy fiance and her parents in Paris, travels back in time to the 1920s each night at midnight. He ends up hanging out with the coolest crowd a writer could ever want to hang out with -- Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hiddleston...drool). Picasso, Dali, Degas, and Gauguin make appearances too, and the whole thing is ridiculous and funny as hell, so you can see why I like this movie. Plus, he falls in love with Marion Cotillard, and I want to BE Marion Cotillard, so this one is a quirky must-see if you're going to Paris and have even a smidge of appreciation for the arts and literary scene that existed there in the '20s.
PARIS JE T'AIME
Jen recommended this one to me, and I watched it a few weeks before we left. It consists of 18 short films (one for each of Paris's arrondissements, with the exception of two that didn't make the cut), and it's such a wonderful mixed bag. They're about different things -- romantic relationships, families, friendship, loneliness -- and they're all beautiful. I have to warn you though, I typically avoid movies that make me cry, and this one gave me the feels BIG TIME. So if you're feeling...um, sensitive...maybe wait to watch it. And if mimes creep you out, avoid the Tour Eiffel/seventh arrondissement segment.
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, presumably because I am an elderly woman trapped in the body of a 29-year-old. My college roommate Claire and I used to watch this every few weeks. It's not primarily set in Paris; it's a rom com set primarily in the Hamptons, and holy shit do I want to own a house like Diane Keaton's character Erica's beach house someday. I list it here because Erica's love for Paris and all things French (including French music, some of which made it onto my Bastille Day playlist) is woven throughout the movie, and the plot culminates in Paris. Anyway, it's hilarious. I don't know what it says about me that I for reals relate to Erica (though I won't be jumping into bed with Jack Nicholson anytime soon and if I lived in a beach house I would never work and would be sunburnt all the time), but who wouldn't want their love story to finish with a kiss in Paris?
LES MISERABLES (the Eddie Redmayne version obvi)
Alright haters. I am listing this one, deal with it. It's been well established on this blog that I'm pretty obsessed with Les Mis, particularly this version of the movie and particularly Eddie Redmayne. Is Russell Crowe's singing as Javert laughable? Of course. Don't get me wrong -- I too laughed at inappropriate times in the movie theater just because he is so damn terrible, but I still loved the movie, so #sorrynotsorry. Fun fact: on our last night in Barcelona after we were coming back from Paris, I somehow got Jen's boyfriend Mike to serenade us via Skype with "One More Day." Anyway, the book by Victor Hugo is an important piece of French literature, and the bulk of it all is set in Paris during the French Revolution, so how can this NOT be part of my Paris movie watching list? Besides, Redmayne. And if he isn't your thing, Aaron Tveit, I mean! I rest my case.