Take a tour of Europe, with a little dash of romance.
To quote a contestant on The Bachelor (probably): “Europe is an amazing place to find love.” I’m not sure which contestant said it (all of them?), but, you know what? Europe is an amazing place to find love–take these romantic comedies, for example. One of the major ways to travel at the moment is through movies, and these romantic comedies, set in various locations around Europe, are sure to fill you with wanderlust. Plus, they’ll give you a feel-good experience filled with humor, romance, and very attractive celebrities. And who doesn’t need a little bit of that lately, hm?
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"Under the Tuscan Sun"
Well, this destination is right there in the name. Under the Tuscan Sun is about a recently divorced writer who takes a post-breakup Italian vacation and, on a whim, ends up buying a villa in Tuscany, all in hopes that it will change her life for the better. And of course, there is a brief romance. But the REAL romance in this film is about dating yourself, in a way (although it does end with the potential for a romantic future for our heroine). The film was mostly shot in the town of Cortona, near Arezzo in Tuscany, as well as in the hills of Tuoro sul Trasimeno, and on Umbria’s Lake Trasimene.
WHERE: West London
Simply put, Notting Hill, the movie, put Notting Hill, the neighborhood of West London, on the map as far as the general public is concerned. After the movie was released in May of 1999, local businesses got a lot more foot traffic, with tourists flocking to walk around Portobello Road Market, or visit the “travel bookshop” depicted in the movie. The shop, in actuality, was never a bookstore, but is now a gift shop–the owners took advantage of the opportunity, however, and on the side of the building, there is a sign reading “The Travel Book Shop,” just like the one in the movie. Also featured in the film are the Rosmead Gardens in Notting Hill and a private residence that cannot be visited, technically (tourists still take selfies in front of it), featuring the famous “blue door” of William “Hugh Grant” Thacker’s home.
Take a flashy ride into old Paris with Baz Luhrmann’s famed musical, Moulin Rouge!, featuring a lovestruck writer (Ewan McGregor) going about a starcrossed and secret affair with a beautiful, tormented courtesan (Nicole Kidman). Here we see that famous Montmartre red windmill and dive into the dark, sordid world of old-time Parisian can-can dancing where the lies and deceit that entangle the characters are depicted fantastically via super fun song and dance. In current times, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction and offers musical and dance entertainment to visitors. It’s currently closed, due to COVID-19, but, hey–we still have the movie in the meantime.
The beginning of this movie takes place in an actual unnamed European nation’s embassy (which, quite frankly, looks like a palace), and then Audrey Hepburn, a princess, goes running through the streets of Rome. Already we’re experiencing Europe, and we’ve only just begun. Next comes: the love part! A reporter finds her thinking she’s drunk and lets her stay in his home. Comedy and romance ensue, with a gorgeous Roman backdrop throughout.
There are few things more full of absolute joy than the film Mamma Mia!, starring her highness Meryl Streep as a carefree, single mother planning her daughter’s wedding on the island of Skopelos in Greece. Unbeknownst to her, her daughter has invited three of her mother’s ex-boyfriends to figure out which one is her father. This movie has it all: the uplifting songs of Abba (so, let’s face it, this movie is kind of also a trip to Sweden, no?), Meryl Streep in overalls, and, most importantly, Pierce Brosnan impeccable “singing”–all set to a gorgeous Grecian backdrop. It’s a vacation in a film.
This movie is about a woman who travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day, because according to Irish folklore, a man who is proposed to by a woman on this day must accept, which is already a siren that screams, “Wow, get out of that relationship if you need that sort of circumstance.” The film was shot in multiple locations around Ireland, mostly in Inishmore on the Aran Islands. There are also scenes in Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains, and at Saint Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Dublin’s famous Temple Bar is also featured.
"Bridget Jones’ Diary"
Ah, the queen of the British rom-com. Bridget Jones is a spinster in London, and we follow her all over the city and the countryside. Bridget’s flat is right in the middle of Borough Market, south of the River Thames. Bedale Street, which is where Colin Firth and Hugh Grant have their big fight at the Greek restaurant, has since been heavily renovated to house many charming shops and wine stores. Following Bridget clumsily around London as she navigates her work life and love life (and the combination of the two, unfortunately) is just as good as clumsily roaming the streets of London yourself (for now, anyway).
The best way to visit Paris without actually visiting Paris is to watch Amelie, hands down. Not only is it a genuinely sweet movie, but it is quintessential France. We follow Amelie all over the city, including into charming apartment buildings, local bars, markets, the subway–this movie takes you everywhere. We follow Amelie down the Rue Lepic as she goes to work as a waitress at Cafe des 2 Moulins, and see her wander around the area to other shops and restaurants. At Canal Saint-Martin, Amelie skips stones. And, of course, she falls in love with a man who works at the Foire du Trône, Europe’s biggest traveling fair.
"Shakespeare in Love"
This film also takes place in London, however it takes place in the 16th century and is, therefore, a very different London than that of the present day. In the Oscar-winning movie, a young William Shakespeare struggles to finish his latest play and falls in love with one of the players, a woman posing as a man (and playing a man) in said play. Many famous spots were used as locales in the movie, such as Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire, Berkshire’s Eton College chapel, and the beach at Holkham in Norfolk. This film is as gorgeous visually as it is romantically.
Gigi is a 1958 musical-romance where a playboy and a young woman who refuses to be a mistress become close–what will happen? Will he choose her over his playboy lifestyle? Regardless of the answer, you’ll still get the Parisian tour through this movie that was actually shot in Paris. There are several very famous locations featured in the film, such as the Palais de Glace, Bois de Boulogne, and the Musee Jacquemart-Andre (used as one of the character’s apartments). The famous Maxim’s restaurant is also on display toward the end of the film.