Bond With France
French Property News|November 2020
With a licence to thrill James Bond fans, Chloe Govan goes househunting in the film locations immortalised by the spy who loved France
Chloe Govan

James Bond never enjoyed a single happy day in Paris, according to the novelist who created him. The fictional spy believed the tourists ripped the heart out of the city”, wrote Ian Flemming.

That may be so but, of course, you don’t actually have to be a tourist in the City of Light. With a little help from an agent – of the real estate rather than MI6 variety – you could always move to the French capital. Then again, why not seek out a home in one of the other French locations where Bond films are set? Get inspiration from cinema’s best-loved secret agent today – and then buy another day!

YOU ONLY LIVE OISE

It's doubtful that 007 would truly have had a terrible time at Paris's most luxurious and literary restaurants. After all, his haunts included the Café de la Paix, once frequented by Oscar Wilde, Le Grand Vefour (which was a favourite of literary villain Marquis de Sade) and even Le Jules Verne atop the Eiffel Tower, named after the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. However, the latter was where, in the 1985 movie A View to a Kill, Bond saw a detective being dramatically assassinated. No wonder he has negative memories of Paris.

The plot of A View to a Kill swiftly moves north of the capital to the countryside around the Oise valley. At the Château de Chantilly and surrounding stables, Bond attends a horse sale, though his true agenda is to uncover the secret laboratory of the owner, who is chipping racehorses with performance-enhancing adrenalin devices. Perilously, he's outed as an agent there, dicing with death at the hands of his assassin rival – not that anyone would really associate such drama with Chantilly, or the surrounding Oise valley. The château, racecourse and Museum of the Horse, where scenes were filmed, are havens of tranquillity.

It's possible in the Val d’Oise department (which includes parts of both the Oise and Seine valleys) to reside amid tranquil forests and crisp refreshing air, and yet still be within commuting or day-tripping distance of Paris. Country retreats here boast easy proximity to both urban shops and rural orchards.

One hotspot on the eastern edge of the Vexin Français regional park is Auverssur-Oise, the burial place of Vincent van Gogh. It's also home to an absinthe museum documenting how the painter chopped off his ear in a hallucinogenic rage, and a château dedicated to Impressionist art.

For better-value properties in the Val d’Oise department, consider the western reaches of the Vexin Français regional park and places such as Vétheuil, a pretty village on the River Seine. The Impressionist painter Claude Monet once lived in this ‘best-kept secret’ location, where he painted numerous scenes, though he is more strongly associated with Giverny, a little way downstream in Normandy.

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