Through fashionable Paris in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn

    04 Feb 2015
    Clock 15min      Length2mi
    3 ratings

    Elysée Palace

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    Follow the path that curves along Avenue Gabriel. As you walk, you will notice a magnificent gate on your left. You will also probably see lots of security guards and police vans on the street. This area is the intersection of the world of fashion and the world of government and diplomacy.

    The huge gate leads into the garden of the Elysée Palace, the residence of the French President . It's the equivalent of the White House or 10 Downing Street. The Elysée Palace was once owned and occupied by Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV. Only in France, it seems, would the president live in a house that had once been the home of a king's mistress.

    Because of all the security around this spot, it's best to keep walking fairly briskly. Continue along the Avenue Gabriel. Once the road straightens out after the curve by the Elysee Palace, you should be able to glimpse the Place de la Concorde at the far end. At the corner where the Avenue Gabriel meets this huge open square, is the American Embassy. This area is also crawling with security guards, some of them heavily armed.

    This is our next destination, so just keep heading towards it. The American Embassy building plays an important role in the film "Charade," made in 1963, in which Audrey starred with Cary Grant.

    Audrey plays Reggie, an unhappily married woman who is introduced to Cary Grant while she is on a skiing holiday in Switzerland. I have always loved the line she says when she meets him: "I already know an awful lot of people; until one of them dies, I couldn't possibly meet anyone else." Some days, I want to say that to people who try to "friend" me on Facebook.

    Reggie returns from her holiday in Switzerland to find her Paris apartment stripped of its contents and her husband murdered. She is summoned to the U.S. Embassy, where she meets an official played by Walter Matthau. He says he is investigating the murder and trying to recover money that her husband stole from the French Resistance during the war. Everyone seems to think she knows where the money is. Cary Grant turns up and befriends her as the bad guys close in, but she is not sure she can trust him. She doesn't even know what his real name is.

    The movie involves an elaborate cat-and-mouse game, and it's not always clear who is the cat and who is the mouse. At the end of the film, Audrey and Cary Grant return to the American Embassy for the final surprise.

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