French Language Blog

Silence, on tourne!* Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Culture, Vocabulary

« A mes yeux Paris restera le décor d’un roman que personne n’écrira jamais.»**

Paris, Julien Green, 1984

Before we get to this week’s post, I wanted to revisit last week. While I included examples like Bonjour / Bonne journée, I forgot to include Bonsoir et Bonne soirée (good evening) . . . and bonne matinée . . .  and bon après-midi. I also forgot to clarify an important point of usage. A general rule and an easy way to remember which of these expressions to use when, is to know that the masculine forms are greetings, while the feminine versions are used when wishing someone a pleasant time upon leaving.

Time of day Coming . . . And going . . .
Before noon Bonjour / Hello, good morning Bonne journée / Have a good day
Noon to 6:00 (ish) Bonjour / Hello, good afternoon Bonne après-midi / Have a nice afternoon
After 6:00 pm Bonsoir / Hello, good evening Bonne soirée / Have a nice evening
At bedtime! n/a Bonne nuit / Good night


Now back to today’s topic! There have been many, many, many books written about Paris, despite author Julien Green’s assertion in the quote that opens this post. But anyone who has spent any time in Paris knows, there is just something undefinable about the city that simply has to be experienced. Paris, more than many cities, has a feeling, a mood, a personality, constant and eternal, but changing with each season, moment of the day, and change in the weather.

Some people love Paris in the springtime. Some people love Paris by night. I love Paris all the time and I always do find that each Paris (Paris sous le soleil / Paris in the sun; Paris sous la pluie / Paris in the rain; Paris l’hiver / Paris in the winter; Paris en été / Paris in the summer . . . ) is unique and wonderful. No amount of words can truly capture Paris . . . but for my money, sometimes a movie can!

For your viewing pleasure this week, a few of my favorite movies (American and French) that always put me in a French frame of mind.


Frantic, 1988

A view of an older, slightly grittier Paris to be sure, but with some great scenes of the city especially of the quais along the Seine . . . and a classic 80’s soundtrack to boot. “Frantic” stars Harrison Ford as a buttoned-up-yet-desperate husband searching for his missing wife with the help of a young French woman of questionable background.

French Kiss, 1995


Kevin Kline stars opposite Meg Ryan playing a surprisingly convincing Frenchman with a certain je-ne-sais quoi in this charming romantic comedy. Most of the movie takes place in the south of France, but the early scenes in Paris capture the sights and sounds of the city in a way that movies don’t always get right.

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001


A charming classic of French cinema, Amélie (as it is known in English), is as in love with the neighborhoods of Paris as it is with its main characters. The production team did digitally “clean up” the city, but that just adds to the charm.

Julie & Julia, 2009


How can you go wrong with a movie that combines France and food . . . and a very sweet portrayal of the always endearing Julie Child? And who knew that Julia Child didn’t write the classic cooking master work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by herself?


Midnight in Paris, 2011

This time-traveling Woody Allen film
lets you enjoy Paris of today and yesteryear
all in one package!


And we can’t forget something for the kids . . . Anastasia, 1997

Et vous? What are your favorite movies (French or otherwise) that feature the City of Lights or that put you in a French (or even a francophone!) mood?

* “Quiet on the set! We’re rolling.” Another common expression you’ll hear on French movie sets is “Silence, moteur . . . Action!” (“Silence, motor . . . action!”), the equivalent of the English “Lights, camera, action!”.

** “In my eyes Paris will always be the setting for a novel that no one will ever write.”

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.


  1. Al Buono:

    You forgot the classics:

  2. Pat:

    Do you know the name of the song that includes the line “most people love Paris by day, but lovers love Paris by night”?

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Pat Pat . . . While it’s certainly a true statement (and not only for the lovers . . . Paris at night is a most spectacular sight!), the only reference I could find was to a song by Frank Sinatra about London that ends with “Most people say they love London by day, But lovers love London by night”.