In June, I moved from the lively 5th arrondisement to the sleepy hamlet of the 16th arrondisement. Apart from a few interesting spots, this neighborhood has stolen my soul and I’ve been dying slowly inside. No offense to some native 16th-ers, but it’s no place for a New York City girl. Which is why it was super exciting to see that the movie Inception was filmed one block from where I live!
The dream training facility is actually the foundations of the elevated metro stop, Passy. The silver columns seen in the movie are authentic but I think the doors on the entrance facade were either reconstructed or color-changed to a darker shade in the movie than the bland grey it is now. Or maybe that’s what it looked like when it was filmed (in August 2009). The actual interior of the building is pretty boring:
The subway line goes across the Bir-Hakeim bridge, which Ariadne creates on her first dream with Cobb (Leo DiCaprio). She move the big mirrors (which don’t exist on the bridge, obviously) and he encounters Mal on the bridge. Even in the film, you’ll notice the track on the right side of the steps which serve to help bikers get down the stairs! Using this location killed two birds with one stone: the bridge and the subway stop are basically connected.
In the movie, you don’t really notice the two lanes of car traffic on either side of the central pedestrian walkway due to the number of people on the bridge in the scene. Today, the only major activity was an Asian wedding photoshoot. Maybe they liked the movie, or maybe they just wanted the view of the Eiffel Tower.
There’s a prominent shot of this graffiti on the columns just before Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur) enters the dream facility:
The bridge is also cool because 1) it’s constructed of red brick underneath in mini barrel vaults 2) has cool lanterns 3) even the metal columns have interesting capitals.
Sorry to disappoint but Cafe Debussy (the explosion scene with Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio) is not real, but an Italian deli called Da Stuzzi in the 15th arrondisement at Place Georges Mulot.
I watched the movie last night on opening night just a few blocks from this location with many smug Parisian who got pretty excited when they saw the subway stop but snickered through other parts of the movie. The movie left me hoping that my life in the 16th arrondisement was really just a dream, but even I know that it’s way too boring to be a dream! Avoiding any critical commentary, I did love the movie for its high-profile use of architecture and city planning. But even the dream worlds still had a Matrix-like quality to them didn’t they?
How to Get There:
Metro: M6 to Passy
All photos by Michelle Young.
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.