Every August, the Forum des Images gives Parisians a summer gift: free cinema under the stars. Their Cinéma au Clair de Lune moves from quartier to quartier, showing films that feature Paris in different parts of the city. This year, from August 4 to 22, you can follow the series from Montmartre to the Marais—seeing work by directors such as Renoir, Rohmer, Godard and Klapisch. Screenings are free of charge but can be canceled in the event of rain. Remember to bring a light wrap in case the evening cools off. You’re not in Paris this August? Well, no need to miss out! Among the countless films that compliment, showcase or try to explain the City of Light, here are a dozen favorites. All can transport you here for a few hours, and you’ll learn something new about the city from each of them.
Venus Beauty Institute (Vénus Beauté Institut), 1999, Tonie Marshall.
So popular it became a French TV series, this feminine tale takes you inside a Paris “beauty institute” to follow Nadine (Bulle Ogier), Marie (Audrey Tautou), Samantha (Mathilde Seigner) and Angèle (Nathalie Baye). With insights into the French cult of beauty and French women at work, plus a worldly romance.
The Lovers on the Bridge (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf), 1991, Leos Carax.
This unconventional love story set among vagrants on the Pont Neuf—much of it the actual bridge, closed for restoration—cemented the stardom of Juliette Binoche. With amazing sequences shot during the 1989 bicentennial fireworks.
Signed Chanel (Signé Chanel), 2005, Loïc Prigent.
Prigent, famous for the Sundance Channel’s Full Frontal Fashion, follows the making of a Chanel haute couture collection. There is only one point of view: that of the women who must create the clothes. Fascinating, stylish and immensely funny. Order it online from FNAC or ARTE or watch it on YouTube.