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FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT: STAY WHERE THE FILMMAKING LEGEND LIVED AND WROTE

FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT: STAY WHERE THE FILMMAKING LEGEND LIVED AND WROTE

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FINDING AN ELEGANT and well-priced place to stay in Paris overlooking one of its main icons is one thing. But then to discover it was home to a French filmmaking legend for nearly a decade — and precisely during the period he wrote and directed his way from relative obscurity to cinematic immortality — sure ramps up the romantic frisson for a couple of days stay in the French capital.

Francois Truffaut was one of the great auters of French cinema’s New Wave. He moved into this compact fifth-floor apartment in Pigalle overlooking the Moulin Rouge in 1954, lived here until 1963 and owned it until 1968. In the years since it has changed hands a number of times via ads in the Parisian film industry papers — owners since Truffaut have included a casting director, designer and cameraman — and it was these folk who have passed on the details of the extraordinary celluloid pedigree of the home to the current owner.

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Truffaut lived and wrote here during the period that produced the critically and commercially acclaimed 1959 film The 400 Blows (for which he won a Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival) and one of his great masterpieces Jules et Jim (1962). Meanwhile Truffaut’s 1954 notes for his first short film Une Visite include a sketch of the balcony (main picture) as well as gives details of the scenes that were shot here.

It was also during this time that Truffaut co-wrote Breathless (1960) with his great friend at the time (and regular visitor to the apartment) Jean-Luc Godard.

Truffaut later dabbled in Hollywood, directing Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and appearing in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) as Claude Lacombe, a French government scientist. In 1973 he won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for the film Day for Night.

Francois Truffaut is recognised as one of the most influential filmmakers of his era — and the simple fact is that this apartment was the crucible for nearly a decades-worth of seminal movies, scripts and ideas that continue to have an important influence on modern cinema.

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If you’d like to stay in the apartment and soak up a little of the atmosphere, details and bookings are here.

It comes highly recommended as a chic (and more spacious) alternative to anything you’d get for the same money in any hotel nearby. the generalist was made enormously welcome during our recent stay, with a bottle of local red and some fresh meringues on the coffee table greeting our arrival.

One thing to note however, is that it’s on the fifth floor and there’s no elevator — but the view and the sniff of Parisian cinematic history more than makes the climb worthwhile (do pack light though or, as the generalist discovered, you’ll realise the full folly of bringing two 28kg suitcases on your travels).

Francois Truffaut lived much of his life in Pigalle and Montmartre. He died in 1984 at the age of 52, at the peak of his powers, from a brain tumour. He is buried in the nearby Montmartre cemetery. Coincidentally October 21 is the 30th anniversary of his death — earlier this year there was a special screening at Cannes of his classic film The Last Metro (1980), starring Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve.

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GUY ALLENBY

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Guy is a past design editor of Belle Magazine and was a feature writer and section editor at the Sydney Morning Herald for a number of years. His work has also been published in The Australian newspaper plus a host of magazines internationally. He is the author of a couple of architecture books and a best-selling biography of mind-body medical pioneer Ian Gawler entitled "The Dragon's Blessing". He is the editor of the generalist.

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