In the third installment in the series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit France...

The World Of James Bond - France
2nd August 2004

Bond has mixed feelings about Paris; we learn of the memorable evening that culminated "in the loss, almost simultaneous, of his virginity and his notecase" on his first visit to Paris aged sixteen, but he has "cordially disliked" the city since the war for pawning its heart to the tourists and "you can see it in the people's eyes - sullen, envious, ashamed". He prefers to stay at the Terminus Nord, because he likes "station hotels and because this is the least pretentious and most anonymous of them". Built in 1865, the 3 star, First Class Historical hotel is now owned by the Accor Hotels group and is located at 12 Boulevard Denain, close to the Gare Du Nord station. The Terminus Nord has recently been renovated to its former glory and its atmosphere, decor and Art Nouveau stained glass lend it the air of a Victorian home.

Once checked in, he can then look forward to a drink at Harry’s Bar or Fouquet’s. Harry’s, at 5 rue Daunou, is home to the International Bar Flies, often frequented by Hemingway and the birthplace of the Bloody Mary.

Famously advertised to Anglophones as being located at "Sank Roo Doe Noo", the bar is also usefully close to Metro Opéra, while Fouquet’s was the hangout for WWI bi-plane aces. Now concentrating on its classic cuisine, Fouquet’s menu is between €65 and €105 and can be found at 99 Avenue de Champs Élysées, near Metro George V.

Above: Hotel Terminus Nord, James Bond’s favourite hotel in Paris.


At the end of From Russia With Love, Bond has an appointment at the Ritz Hotel, which he enters "through the door on the left that leads into the Ritz bar" from Rue Cambon. Since it is approaching midday he orders a double vodka martini in what is now a Champagne bar known as the Cambon Bar, before making his way to room 204 to meet Rosa Klebb of SMERSH.

Founded in 1898, the Paris Ritz is considered by many to be the finest hotel in the world and certainly sets the standards for other hotels in its class.

Favoured by such people as Hemingway (after which one of the other bars is named), Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Sartre and countless Royalty and heads of state, Ritz has become synonymous with luxury and it was from here that Princess Di and Dodi Fayad made their final fateful journey.

For lunch Bond again has several favourites. Café de la Paix is in Boulevard des Capucines, again close to Metro Opera. One of the most famous cafés in Paris, it has been restored to its original splendour and visitors may well rub shoulders with the rich and famous while La Rotonde (105 Boulevard du Montparnasse) is a typical early 20th century Parisian brasserie with a menu starting at €32 and nearby Le Dôme (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse) has lots of dark wood, intimate corners and good simple cuisine, making it one of Paris' most beloved spots - Hemingway was particularly keen on the spinach souffle.

For dinner Bond prefers restaurants that serve what he might consider to be "a good plain wholesome meal", which may be true as long as it goes on company expenses. These include Grand Vefour, a three star Michelin restaurant, which includes on its €160 fixed menu a specialty of ravioli of foie gras with a truffle cream sauce. You can find the restaurant at 17 Rue Beaujolais, close to Metro Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre. Also on his list is another three star Michelin restaurant, Lucas-Carton at 9 Place Madeleine or yet another Hemingway favourite, Au Cochon d’Or, a luxurious old bistro located at 192, Avenue Jean-Jaurès, formally close to the Paris slaughterhouses. The slaughterhouses are long gone but the restaurant is unchanged.

Outside of Paris
Our first encounter with James Bond is in the Casino of the fictional French town of Royale-les-Eaux. Described by Fleming in Casino Royale as being "just north of Dieppe" and lying "near the mouth of the Somme before the flat coastline soars up from the beaches of southern Picardy to the Brittany cliffs which run on to Le Havre", we have few clues as to where we can find it and it is not until On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that we learn a few more details.

Bond is driving his Bentley for a night at the tables of the casino in Royale-les-Eaux, when a girl in a white Lacia Flaminia Zagato Spyder overtakes him. He is on "that fast but dull stretch of N1 between Abbeville and Montreuil" and takes chase. The first opportunity we really have to place Royale is when Bond reaches a sign saying "Montreuil 5, Royale-les-Eaux 10, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage 15".

From the map we find that he must have passed through Wailly-Beaucamp, which lies on the N1, slightly more than 6 km from Montreuil and 19 km from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. He then follows the girl through Montreuil and over the Étaples-Paris level crossing, after which "the left-hand turn for Royale came up".

Above: "That fast but dull stretch of N1 between Abbeville and Montreuil"

Above: Casino at Berck-Sur-Mer.

This is where things don’t add up though – the distance from Montreuil to the coast is a total of more than 20 km, rather than the 10 km on the sign.

However, 12 km from Wailly-Beaucamp is Berck-Sur-Mer, known at the turn of the 20th century as Berck-Plage.This has the requisite casino and a beach, two attributes essential for Royale-les-Eaux, and at the turn of the 20th century became a place to visit for its air and light, much in the same way as Royale was visited for its spring water. Probably Royale is a mixture of several of the casino towns in the area and placing it precisely is futile.

Goldfinger sees Bond arrives in Le Touquet in his service- provided Aston Martin DB III. He is on the trail of Auric Goldfinger and having secreted a homing device on Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce, Bond is able to follow the car from a distance. Bond tails Goldfinger on the N1 through Abbeville, but when the road forks he mistakenly continues towards Paris. Realising the error when 10km short of Beauvais, he takes the N30 towards Rouen (in fact probably the N31). Goldfinger drives through Evreux and Chartres before making an overnight stop at one of the five star hotels in Orleans, "a priest and myth ridden town without charm or gaiety", while Bond decides upon the Hôtel de la Gare - "when in doubt, Bond always chose the station hotels."

Making an early start the next morning, Bond is again on Goldfinger’s tail when he notices a girl in a Triumph that he had seen in England and daydreams about meeting her and where to take here. Snapping himself out of his fantasy, he follows the N7 towards Nevers and misses Goldfinger’s turn off the road at Moulins, so has to turn back and head onto the N73 and N79. Somewhere on this road he watches Goldfinger stop for lunch and deposit a gold bar in a dead letter box by "a pretty bridge over a pretty stream" with "a survey number set in the arch – 79/6". Once Goldfinger is on his way again, Bond picks up the gold and hides it in secret compartment in his car and continues trailing Goldfinger to Mâcon and then towards Bourg. Bond notices the Triumph behind him again, and assuming that she is also on the tail of Goldfinger, wrenches the Aston Martin into reverse, successfully putting her car out of action. Promising to drop her in Geneva and pay for the damage, Bond continues to Bourg, Pont d’Ain and then tackles "the S-bends of N84" before crossing the frontier into Switzerland.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond briefly spends some time in Marseilles, when going to meet the head of the Corsican mafia, whose daughter he is about to marry. Although it seems that he doesn’t find the time to visit one of "the little places down by the harbour" where he is recommended to order the "plat du jour and drink the vin du Cassis" he is driven along the famous Canebière, and "where it crosses the Rue de Rome", the driver "turned right and then left into the Rue St Ferréol", before arriving at the home of his future father-in-law, Marc-Ange Draco. The following day he makes his way by rail and air to Strasbourg. Staying in "a fine room" at the Hotel Maison Rouge, Bond orders foie gras and half a bottle of champagne before retiring early to bed. Although there is still a hotel of the same name in Strasbourg, it should be pointed out that the original moved in 1973.

"The World Of James Bond" will visit America next...

Article by David Leigh.