Paris in Music Videos: Favorite Songs Down through the Decades

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Paris in Music Videos: Favorite Songs Down through the Decades
Feeling cooped-up? Let’s trip the light fantastic across the Pont Alexandre III. Designed by architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, this most-ornate-of-all-Paris-bridges was one of the showstoppers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Rain or shine, the arches of the bridge look every bit as radiant and pearly as the architects and the seventeen sculptors who adorned it surely intended. Down through the years, this over-the-top arch deck marvel has played muse to photographers like Yvon, Brassaï, Willy Ronis, Richard Avedon, William Klein, Robert Doisneau, and Richard Avedon—just to name a few. A perfect photo-op still, Le Pont Alexandre III has also made numerous cameos in movies and music videos. Ready for a close-up? Then get thee over to your favorite streaming platform, and watch English singer-songwriter Adele’s 2011 epic weepie “Someone Like You” video. Shot in black and white by director Jake Nava in a Wim Wenders sort of way, you’ll not only see this glorious bridge but also a spinning Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Les Invalides, and the Place de la Concorde, along with the perfect post-break-up, tear-proof coat by Moschino. For the deep love of red velvet pantsuits, Prince-worthy frilly wrist cuffs, and canted angle shots, the Moody Blues band’s classic “Nights in White Satin” was also filmed here. You’ll definitely feel a groovitational pull as you watch their 1967 video, featuring wild artsy shots of the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxor obelisk at Place de la Concorde, and the statues of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Jardin des Tuileries. Warning: I haven’t been able to listen to either of those songs of unrequited love and not feel the urge to do all over again. #Repeat #JustwhatIneeded Want more? Here are a few more of my favorite music videos and clips featuring Paris down through the decades. Note, though: I’ve listed what I, myself, fancy. If I haven’t included your favorite song, do let me know and I’ll check it out. Now, let’s take a trip. 1. Charles Trenet: Les Oiseaux de Paris (1938) Try watching this 90-sec clip from Christian Stengel’s “Je Chante” movie without falling head-over-heels for the lively Trenet as he belts: “Chante avec tous les oiseaux de Paris!” Yes, we will sing again with all the birds of Paris in the parks and by the river. But hold that thought. For now, it’s better to stay home and stay safe. 2. Charles Trenet: Romance de Paris (1941) As the unofficial, self-appointed fan club president, and proud owner of the “Charles Trenet: Les Chansons de Toute Une Vie” songbook, I felt it was my duty to share more of his gusto for life in motion, even during the Occupation. “C’est la romance de Paris, au coin des rues elle fleurit,” he sings in this clip from Jean Boyer’s “Romance de Paris” movie. I agree. Romance continues to bloom in Paris. But let’s continue our journey. 3. Bing Crosby: I Love Paris (1954) Like a box of fine wine, Bing Crosby’s smooth voice does something to me. Honestly, this swell rendition of Cole Porter’s song gets me all misty from start to finish. The faux Parisian rooftop set design also sizzles. It’s time to hit repeat and twirl around the flat. I’m now wondering if house slippers are available in black patent leather. 4. Françoise Hardy: Tous les Garçons et les Filles (1962) Exuding coolness to the core, here Françoise rocks her signature windswept look. As she sings about the bumpy road to love while deftly balancing on topsy-turvy amusement park rides—sometimes without hands—we’re able to feel the yearning and heartache, but also a little seasickness, too. Heads-up: The tune and urge to give yourself Yé-yé pop singer bangs will tempt you for days. 5. Dionne Warwick: Walk On By (1964) “Walk on by—don’t stop,” is what I now tell my fellow shoppers at the grocery store when they forget to social distance. Looking for a sleek but yet comfortable telecommute outfit? Check out Dionne’s turtleneck and skinny cigarette-trouser combo. Looking radiant and empowered with a tiny cat toy in hand, she absolutely slays the Burt Bacharach and Hal David anthem. For a bonus point: Name the building she sings atop in the video. 6. The Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go? (1965) If you’re in need of a Sixties cinema verité mood lift, watch this. Each frame is full of joy, humor, and fear, from start to fin. Cop an eyeful at the Supremes strutting their stuff through actual Paris traffic and defying both death and le flic on the bustling Champs-Élysées. Oh, they’re on the go-go all right, but with such style, never missing a beat. At the time, Florence, Mary, and Diana were in Paris for the Motortown Revue at Olympia Music Hall. Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Martha and the Vandellas also performed in Berry Gordy’s international traveling show. [caption id=”attachment_43780″ align=”alignnone”…

Lead photo credit : Basking in the light at the Pont Alexandre III, our friend here has a cameo in The Moody Blues band’s Nights in White Satin video at the four-minute mark (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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Theadora is a Paris-based writer who has a regular column, called “My Life in Paris," in France Today magazine.


  • Renée
    2020-05-15 12:57:15
    J‘aime les chansons, Merçi! You forgot ABBA our last summer. Some of these songs I never heard before. Some I still know by heart... Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin... :) Les anées soixante! Beaux souvenirs pour moi!


  • Martino Laughlin
    2020-04-25 21:13:20
    Martino Laughlin
    I love this post—spent all afternoon listening to every song at least twice (except Francoise Hardy; some wrong with that link, which is too bad ‘cause she’s one of the greats!) What a terrific way to self isolate, as long as we have to anyway. Can I take a guess on the Dianne Warwick location? Is it the Radio France building? It’s big and round and one of the weirdest modern buildings in Paris, so that’s my bet. Keep up the great stuff! We need it at times like thus! Martino