In January 2021, Netflix launched a new French series, “Lupin,” and almost overnight, it became a sensation, grabbing the number one spot in almost every country Netflix is available in, making it the most watched French television show in history. “Lupin” stars the charismatic Omar Sy, one of the most beloved actors in France, who plays Assane Diop, an unassuming thief who charms his victims unbeknownst to them, coming away with a bounty of cash and jewels. His career is inspired by a literary character, Arsene Lupin, from a series of novels from the early 1900s by author Maurice LeBlanc. Most of the scenes of the show were filmed in iconic Paris locations and a few in more obscure places. Below is a list of locations along with some fun facts and history.
Pont Des Arts
We find out in the first episode Assane is a divorced, single father with a teenage son, whom he frequently abandons or stands up because of his work. In a touching scene, Assane walks with his son over the Pont des Arts bridge and hands him a gift, a copy of a “Lupin” book, sharing with him about how much the book influenced his life. Construction of the Pont des Arts bridge was ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte, who desired to have a floating garden with lush greenery, flowers and benches over the Seine in the form of a bridge. It was built in 1812 and was the first bridge in Paris to use cast iron for its base. The Pont des Arts suffered great damage in World War I and World War II, and in 1979, a barge seriously struck the bridge, making it unusable. A new structure was erected in 1984 and nowadays the pedestrian only bridge is popular for picnics, street performers and musicians.
The plot of the first episode revolves around a major jewelry heist of a priceless necklace that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. The necklace is on public display at the Louvre museum, and Assane poses as a janitor in order to gain access. A few moments later, we see Assane in a real gallery of the Louvre, filled with priceless artworks, eyeing the necklace he will later steal.
In real life, during the filming of “Lupin,” star Omar Sy was given access to view the Mona Lisa by himself for 20 minutes and later reported how in awe of it he was. A number of other scenes were filmed in and around the Louvre. A copy of the iconic glass pyramid designed by the Asian American architect I.M. Pei, inaugurated in 1989, was used in a car chase scene.
The Louvre experienced a major, real life heist in 1911, when the Mona Lisa was stolen by an employee, Vincenzo Peruggia, who walked out with it wrapped under his arm in broad daylight. Perrugia hid the painting for two years, then returned to his native Florence, where he tried to sell it to the Uffizi Museum before he was arrested, and it was finally returned to the Louvre. A new film about the robbery is being directed by Jodi Foster.
Les Puces De Saint-Ouen
Assane is spotted at the Paris Flea Market, where his good friend Benjamin Ferel owns an antique shop, while also producing meticulous copies of the necklace and other treasures. Les Puces De Saint-Ouen Paris Flea Market, just on the outskirts of Paris, is the largest flea market in the world with 2,500 merchants and sellers, covering over 20 acres. Professional and amateur collectors, architects, interior decorators, and vintage fashion aficionados come from around the globe to seek out rare finds of furniture, artwork, vintage designer jewelry, clothing, shoes, and handbags, glassware and crystal, lamps and light fixtures, and garden furniture among other things.
The flea market is reachable by metro or Uber/taxi from Paris and is open Saturday and Sunday,10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tip: You can watch on Facebook the “Lupin” location video hosted by Richard Nahem, Travel Agent’s Paris correspondent here:
Nissim De Camondo Museum
A number of flashbacks relating to when Assane was a teenager take place in an opulent mansion where the wealthy Pellegrini family lives. The actual mansion is still standing and today is the Musée Nissim de Camondo. Designed by a prestigious French architect Rene Sergent and constructed in 1911, it was the dream home of Count Moise de Camondo, a wealthy banker from a Sephardic Jewish family in Turkey. Camondo asked Sergent to build the mansion to house his significant collection of 18th-century art, furniture and precious objects; the design is inspired by Marie Antoinette’s Versailles palace, Le Petit Trianon. The latest modern conveniences of the period were installed including central heating, an elevator, a vacuum cleaner, and bathrooms with indoor plumbing. The Nissim De Camondo Museum has three floors open to the public, and much of the original furnishings and rooms are still intact.
Photo by Richard Nahem
The beautiful Luxembourg Gardens is where one of the most suspenseful scenes in “Lupin” is filmed. After reticently making a rendezvous at the Luxembourg Gardens to meet his childhood sweetheart who stole his heart almost 30 years before, Assane quickly realizes it’s a trap and he madly flees and sprints through the park. The scene was shot around a large pond in the middle of the gardens, which is where children rent miniature sailboats to float.
The Luxembourg Gardens were part of the Luxembourg Palace, built in 1612 for Queen Marie de Medici, which resembled her home in Florence, the Pitti Palace. Located on the Left Bank of Paris, and set on 60 acres, the gardens were opened to the public in the late 1800s. The popular park has a puppet show theater, pony rides, a children’s playground, concerts, tennis courts, chess tables, ice cream and snack kiosks, cafes, and an art gallery in the summer. Gorgeous flower beds, climbing rose bushes, manicured trees and shrubs line the gardens. A statuary with over 106 statues includes a collection of the queens of France, and busts and sculptures of artists, writers, poets, musicians, and political figures. You’ll also find a mini replica of the Statue of Liberty.
The seaside resort of Etretat in Normandy is the backdrop for the last episode cliffhanger of the first season of “Lupin.” Assane takes a break from Paris and goes on an excursion with his son to celebrate his recent wave of good luck. All goes well until Assane’s son goes missing.
Etretat is famous for its tall, rugged chalk cliffs overlooking the sea and artists Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet and Eugene Boudin captured the beauty of the cliffs in a series of paintings in the late 1800s. Maurice LeBlanc, the celebrated author of the “Lupin” books, at one time kept a home in Etretat, and it’s now a museum.
Etretat is about two and a half hours by train from Paris.
Good news: The premiere of the second season of “Lupin” will air June 11, 2021.