10 French Films Set on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur)

Agay vu du Dramont © Frédéric Ducarme, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Agay vu du Dramont © Frédéric Ducarme, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Agay vu du Dramont © Frédéric Ducarme, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Backdrop for many iconic French films, the French Riviera...


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Copyright for the main image of this article:
Agay vu du Dramont © Frédéric Ducarme, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


The French Riviera, with its picturesque coastlines and glamorous atmosphere, has been the backdrop for many iconic films. Here are ten movies set in this beautiful region, featuring legends like Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Louis de Funès and Cary Grant.

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1. Come Dance With Me (Voulez-Vous Danser Avec Moi ?, 1959)

Director: Michel Boisrond

Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Henri Vidal, Dawn Addams, Darío Moreno

Synopsis: Brigitte Bardot stars as Virginie, a young woman who marries her doctor fiancé Hervé (Henri Vidal). When Virginie discovers Hervé is frequenting a dance school where his dance partner is found murdered, she goes undercover to clear his name. Set against the chic and sunny backdrop of the French Riviera, particularly in Cannes and Nice, this film blends romance, comedy, and mystery, all wrapped up in the charm of Bardot.

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2. Where Are You From, Johnny? (D'où viens-tu Johnny, 1963)

Title in English: Where Are You From, Johnny?

Director: Noël Howard

Cast: Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Fernand Sardou, Pierre Barouh, Béatrice Altariba

Synopsis: "D'où viens-tu Johnny?" is a musical drama featuring France's rock 'n' roll icon Johnny Hallyday. The film tells the story of Johnny, a young musician who leaves Paris for the tranquil countryside to escape the pressures of fame. He moves to the French Riviera, where he becomes entangled in a plot involving stolen money and a gang of criminals. As Johnny tries to clear his name, he finds solace in the picturesque surroundings and falls in love with a local girl, played by Sylvie Vartan. The film showcases Hallyday's musical talents, with several performances set against the stunning backdrop of the French Riviera. Directed by Noël Howard, this film captures the essence of the region’s beauty and tranquility, contrasting sharply with the tense criminal activities that Johnny gets embroiled in. The sunny beaches, charming villages, and serene landscapes of the Riviera provide a captivating setting for this story of love, music, and intrigue.

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3. And God Created Woman (Et Dieu... créa la femme, 1956)

Director: Roger Vadim

Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jürgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Christian Marquand

Synopsis: This film launched Brigitte Bardot into international stardom. Bardot plays Juliette, a free-spirited and sensual young woman whose presence disrupts the lives of three men in a small Saint-Tropez village. Juliette’s allure leads to a complex love quadrangle, causing friction and turmoil. The picturesque town of Saint-Tropez serves as a perfect backdrop for this tale of seduction and passion, highlighting the beauty and carefree lifestyle of the French Riviera.

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4. Purple Noon (Plein Soleil, 1960)

Director: René Clément

Cast: Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt, Erno Crisa

Synopsis: Alain Delon stars as Tom Ripley, a charming yet morally ambiguous young man sent to Italy to retrieve a rich playboy, Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet). Instead, Ripley decides to take over Philippe’s life, leading to deception and murder. Shot in various stunning locations along the French Riviera, including the picturesque coastal towns and the Mediterranean Sea, "Purple Noon" is a visual treat that beautifully captures the region's elegance and mystery.

Explore the legacy of Alain Delon with featured content such as "Alain Delon: Face au Monde"  and delve into his enigmatic allure in "Alain Delon: La Beauté du Diable et les Femmes".

5. The Swimming Pool (La Piscine,1969)

Director: Jacques Deray

Cast: Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet, Jane Birkin

Synopsis: Set in a luxurious villa near Saint-Tropez, "La Piscine" revolves around the complex relationships between four characters. Jean-Paul (Alain Delon) and Marianne (Romy Schneider) are enjoying a summer holiday when Harry (Maurice Ronet), an old friend and former lover of Marianne, arrives with his teenage daughter, Penelope (Jane Birkin). Jealousies and tensions escalate, leading to tragic consequences. The film’s stunning Riviera setting, with its sun-drenched pools and glamorous lifestyle, enhances the story’s sensual and suspenseful atmosphere.

6. The Gendarme of St. Tropez (Le Gendarme de St. Tropez, 1964)

Director: Jean Girault

Cast: Louis de Funès, Geneviève Grad, Michel Galabru, Daniel Cauchy

Synopsis: This comedy classic follows the misadventures of Ludovic Cruchot (Louis de Funès), an ambitious gendarme who is transferred to the seaside town of Saint-Tropez. His overzealous enforcement of the law leads to a series of humorous incidents, particularly involving a nudist colony. The film's charm lies in its comedic portrayal of the idyllic and vibrant life in Saint-Tropez, showcasing the town’s stunning beaches and lively atmosphere.

Read more about the classic French comedy Le Gendarme de St. Tropez

7. The Girl from Monaco (La Fille de Monaco, 2008)

Director: Anne Fontaine

Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem, Louise Bourgoin, Stéphane Audran

Synopsis: In this romantic comedy-thriller, Fabrice Luchini stars as Bertrand, a prominent lawyer defending a wealthy woman accused of murder in Monaco. He becomes infatuated with Audrey (Louise Bourgoin), a beautiful but reckless local weather girl. His bodyguard, Christophe (Roschdy Zem), tries to keep him out of trouble, but Bertrand’s obsession with Audrey leads to a series of complications. The glamorous setting of Monaco, with its luxurious lifestyle and stunning vistas, plays a crucial role in this engaging and stylish film.

8. To Catch a Thief (1955)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams

Synopsis: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this classic film stars Cary Grant as John Robie, a retired cat burglar living on the French Riviera. When a series of jewel heists mimicking his old style occurs, Robie must clear his name by catching the real thief. He teams up with Frances (Grace Kelly), a wealthy American tourist, leading to romance and suspense. Filmed on location in Cannes, Nice, and other Riviera spots, "To Catch a Thief" is renowned for its stunning cinematography and the undeniable chemistry between Grant and Kelly.

9. Never Say Never Again (1983)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, Kim Basinger

Synopsis: In this unofficial James Bond film, Sean Connery returns as the iconic spy. The plot revolves around Bond’s mission to recover two stolen nuclear warheads taken by the nefarious SPECTRE organization. The chase leads him to the luxurious and dangerous waters of the French Riviera. Filmed in locations such as Nice and the Mediterranean coast, the movie combines the allure of the Riviera with the high-stakes action and suave charm typical of a Bond film.

10. Bay of Angels (La Baie des Anges) (1963)

Director: Jacques Demy

Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann, Paul Guers, Henri Nassiet

Synopsis: This film explores the world of gambling through the eyes of Jean (Claude Mann), a young bank employee who becomes infatuated with Jackie (Jeanne Moreau), a compulsive gambler. Their relationship unfolds against the backdrop of the casinos and beaches of Nice and Monte Carlo. Jacques Demy's direction and Jeanne Moreau's captivating performance bring depth to this tale of addiction and desire, with the French Riviera’s opulent casinos and sunny landscapes serving as a fitting setting for the characters’ tumultuous journey.

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