Before Sunset (2004) is a Paris travel Pinterest board. There’s the quintessential Parisian café with stacked wicker chairs and cigarette smoke wafting around the coffee cups. There is also a dark, dusty bookshop that the likes of Hemingway and James Joyce frequented back in the day. And don’t get me started on the streets lined with ornate, heavy wooden doors and delightful little Juliet balconies! Yep, the Before Sunset locations in Paris sure are hard to beat.
And that’s to say nothing of the achingly beautiful love story at the heart of the movie. Before Sunset follows two souls, American Jesse and French Céline, nine years after their brief 12-hour affair in Vienna as students in Before Sunrise (1995). Céline is now living in Paris while Jesse is in town promoting his new book. Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy continues with 2013’s Before Midnight in Greece, but there’s something so moving about Before Sunset. Maybe it’s the will-they-won’t-they tease, or maybe it’s all the gorgeous Before Sunset Paris locations. The jury is still out.
I’ve written this step-by-step chronological list, or self-guided walking tour of the all of the Before Sunset places in Paris featured in the film. Hopefully, the map helps if you’re struggling to find the exact Before Sunset filming locations on your trip!
Let’s take a walk along the Seine and maybe you’ll bump into Céline and Jesse falling in love all over again…
Before Sunset Locations in Paris, France
1. Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005
The first Before Sunset location is one of the most popular, most iconic stores in Paris. It’s the Before Sunset bookstore, the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop! It’s appeared in so many other films including another essential Paris-based movie, Midnight in Paris (2011).
Jesse is at the bookstore promoting his novel This Time, the retelling of his and Céline’s tryst in Vienna nine years prior. Céline tracks him down and surprises him there, thus picking up (almost) exactly where they left off…
2. Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, 75005
The next six Before Sunset locations are all rues (or streets) that Jesse and Céline meander along (or to use an appropriate French word, they flâneur) catching up on old times. The first street is just around the corner from Shakespeare & Company Bookshop. This is the street where Céline and Jesse discover who did or didn’t return to Vienna that fateful December 16th many moons ago.
At the bottom of Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, there are some great cafés and very instagrammable buildings.
3. Rue Galande, 75005
Céline grabs Jesse’s arm and instructs “let’s go this way” and they continue down the narrow, pedestrianised street of Rue Galande. So far, the continuity holds up.
4. Rue Des Jardins Saint-Paul, 75004
But suddenly they’re across the Seine in a neighbourhood of Paris called Saint Paul’s Village. The pair turn onto Rue Des Jardins Saint-Paul from Rue de l’ Ave Maria. It’s another narrow street and you can clearly see Paroisse Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church looming in the distance.
5. Rue Charlemagne, 75004
When they reach the church, Céline lovingly touches Jesse’s arm and guides him to turn right onto Rue Charlemagne.
6. Rue Eginhard, 75004
Then, the former lovers take the world’s most pointless detour down Rue Eginhard. Because Rue Charlemagne continues onto the street they end up finishing their stroll on anyway! But I do admit, cramped alleyways and side streets are much more cinematic than busy roads.
7. Rue Saint-Paul, 75004
Their stroll through the streets of Paris ends on Rue Saint-Paul with Céline’s impassioned speech about cheap labour and how Earth is doomed on this street. She’s a really cheery kind of gal.
Jump cuts are, of course, very common in films and usually very necessary so I think the poetic license needed to get from Shakespeare & Co. Bookshop to the next Before Sunset filming location is a-okay in my book. Or else we would have been watching them walk for most of the film!
8. Le Pure Café, 14 Rue Jean-Macé, 75011
The Before Sunset café, Le Pure Café, is one of the most popular filming locations in Paris. Here, Céline and Jesse grab a cup of coffee, Jesse bums one of Céline’s cigarettes and they compare how each other has changed since their last encounter.
I visited Le Pure Café on January 1st so it was sadly closed. Hopefully, if you’re visiting the Before Sunset Paris locations, you’ll have better luck than me and will be able to go inside!
9. Promenade Plantée, 1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont, 75012
After their coffee break, Céline directs Jesse towards a picturesque elevated walkway on a defunct railway line called Promenade Plantée. Pretty much exactly like New York City’s Highline!
They climb the steps at 90 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012, turn right and keep walking along the path until they reach the very end staircase at 1 Coulée Verte René-Dumont. This is actually a fair distance and there are a couple of other staircases along the way you can use instead if you don’t want to walk the whole way. It’s condensed a bit in the film!
Also, if you want to sit on the bench that Jesse playfully drags Céline onto, it’s in between the two green metal gates by the final staircase on the left-hand side facing the double staircase.
10. Quai de la Tournelle, 75005
After stepping off the Promenade Plantée, Céline and Jesse end up walking down Quai de la Tournelle. I’ve pinned on the map exactly where Céline and Jesse turn off this street onto the Left Bank to walk along the Seine. Pont de la Tournelle is the bridge you can see in the background. Jesse decides to be spontaneous and do something touristy by hopping on a Canauxrama boat cruise in this location.
11. Quai Henri-IV, 75004
I think the boat cruise may have been a Seine Island boat cruise as they sail underneath Pont de Sully and Pont d’Austerlitz (and Notre Dame, of course), but then the boat also passes Vedettes du Pont-Neuf which is around in the opposite direction. It could just be a continuity error but that’s my guess, anyway!
Plus, Céline tells Jesse’s driver to meet them at Quai Henri-IV which is basically just across the river, so it wouldn’t take that long at all for the boat to reach this next Before Sunset location if they were sailing in one direction.
The boat actually does dock at the address Céline gave Jesse’s driver – so the Before Sunset locations get some points for authenticity here!
12. Cour de l’Étoile-d’Or, 75 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine, 75012
Instead of going straight to the airport so Jesse can catch his flight back to the USA, he wants to see Céline’s apartment first. which is the final Before Sunset location. Oh, Jesse, you’re going to miss that plane.
The address Celine gives Jesse’s driver, 18 Cour des Petites Écuries, is not the actual address of the filming location used. Céline’s apartment in Before Sunset is actually Cour de l’Étoile-d’Or on 75 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine. In real life, it’s usually a gated community. That must make it easier to shoot a film if the public is automatically not allowed on the property!
And those are all of the Before Sunset locations in Paris! Have you watched Before Sunset or visited any of the Before Sunset film locations? Let me know in the comments below!
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