Lupin’s Portrayal of the Real Paris Is Positively Thrilling

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Paris is so much more than the Eiffel Tower—though many TV shows and films fail to look beyond postcard shots of the picturesque city. But Lupin, a French-made production which premiered earlier this year and was the first French series to make Netflix America’s top 10 list, shows another side of Paris. This time, it is a gritty European capital drenched in mystery and darkness.

Lupin follows Assane Diop (Omar Sy), a Senegalese Frenchman who is inspired by the character Arsène Lupin in The Gentleman Burglar by Maurice LeBlanc. The early-1900s story was the French answer to Sherlock Holmes, but the show is shot and set in modern-day Paris. As producer Isabelle DeGeorges explains in the Netflix featurette “The Making of Lupin”: “We felt that Omar shouldn’t play Arsène Lupin, but it should instead be a tribute to Arsène Lupin.”

Diop hopping on the rooftops of Parisian apartment buildings, which was shot in the city’s 18th arrondissement, in the north end of Paris.

The show’s production designer, Françoise Dupertuis, wanted to show the two different sides of Paris: the pretty tourist traps and the unpleasant outer-city suburbs. The series was shot in the high-end districts, like the chic first arrondissement (home to the Louvre), the left bank’s Jardin du Luxembourg, a manicured park, and the famed Pont des Arts bridge near Musee d’Orsay.

“We also wanted to show the harder Paris, that being where the working class live, the suburbs of the city,” Dupertuis tells AD. These scenes were shot in the city’s northern, less charming areas. “We worked on contrasts,” she says.

In fact, non-Parisians may not recognize the city in many of the scenes. “We wanted to shoot in more intriguing, more secret places in Paris, the Paris known to the Parisian who lives there, who works there and who still like to discover the city,” said Dupertuis. “The different faces of Paris.”

One lesser-known gem used as a filming location was the Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen, an antique market where Diop’s childhood friend Benjamin works in the show. Lupin also shot inside Parisian restaurants known as insider hot spots, like the Le China restaurant in Bastille, which feels like a Shanghai speakeasy from the 1930s; and Café Prunier, an upscale eatery first founded as an oyster shop in 1872.

Many of the antique market scenes were shot in the Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen flea market.

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