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Make-Believe Paris in America (2/3): Hollywood

Americans can now visit Paris without having to leave the United States! At the EPCOT theme park in Florida, at Universal Studios in California, and at the Paris hotel and casino in Las Vegas, tourists rub shoulders with waistcoat-wearing garçons de café and take selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower. Follow France-Amérique through those picture-postards version of Paris in the United States.

Episode 2: Universal Studios in Hollywood (California)

The mill is red and draped with tricolor flags, but is missing its sails, presenting a version of the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood. A nearby advertising column encourages visitors to see “the world’s most famous French cancan show,” while loudspeakers play out accordion music.

Next to a play area on the theme of the Minions — the little, yellow characters from the Despicable Me animated franchise — the Universal Studios theme park has recreated a little slice of France. Tourists are treated to a Provençal village square — along with its fountain, flowerbeds, and blue window shutters — and a street taken straight from Paris during the Roaring Twenties and Thirties. A banner hung above the street announces the arrival of the Tour de France in 1935, while a Chevrolet made the same year and used in Michael Mann’s movie Public Enemies is adorned with a (fake) shield from the Paris Police Headquarters.

french-street-universal-Studios-hollywood-californie-moulin-rouge

The renowned Parisian cabaret, whose name and iconic façade are protected by copyright, has demanded that the Univer- sal Studios theme park in California remove all references to the Moulin Rouge. Legal proceedings have been underway for the last five years. © Universal Studios Hollywood

A little further on, day-trippers take selfies on the Rue de Lamour, before enjoying a croissant on the terrace of the French Street Bistro shaded by a Perrier parasol, and say “Bonjour” to the mimes. On the nearby Rue de Rivoli, the store fronts of the florist, the chocolate shop, the dressmaker (“sur rendez-vous”), and the music store are all just for show.

The visit continues at the Warner Bros. movie studios, located in the lower part of the park. The set entitled “French Street” was designed in 1937 for the purposes of Anatole Litvak’s film Tovarich. A 165-foot stretch of Haussmannian buildings — with wrought-iron balconies, zinc roofing, and dormer windows — depict a timeless take on Paris. In Casablanca, the street was used as the backdrop to the scene in which Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman first learn of the German invasion of June 1940 while sat at the terrace of a Parisian café. More recently, the setting was featured in Damien Chazelle’s movie La La Land — the Café Sur Le Lot, where Emma Stone’s character works, is located on the corner of French Street.

=> In the same series, discover the France Pavilion at the EPCOT theme park in Florida, and climb up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

Article published in the May 2018 issue of France-Amérique

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