Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Self-Guided Highlander Tour Of Paris: Parte Prima

As many of you already know, I'm a HUGE fan of Highlander. The first movie is in my top 10 of favorite all-time flicks, but the tv show is what I consider the finest production of episodic television EVER! Yes, I know that's a tall accolade, but the show appealed to me on so many levels. And not so much for the cool sword fights and special effects of the Quickenings (although those did, indeed, kick much ass) -- but because of the in-depth look the show took at immortality and it's attendant ups and downs. When the show delved into the pathos of being Immortal, that's when I dug it best. This is also what draws me most to vampire fiction and films.

Anyway, since I knew I was going to be in Paris for 7 days last week, I came with a shopping list of locales used in many of my favorite Highlander: The Series episodes. Included are a slew of images I took while travelling by foot around Paris. Some of them I stumbled on by accident (which was quite the thrill, I must say), while others I came prepared to find (like the area along the Seine where Duncan MacLeod's converted live-in barge was moored). But all should be recognized by die-hard fans of the show like myself and some of my friends reading this blog. It is for you that I dedicate this post.

First off, however, the above shot should really need no introduction to true Highlander fans. I purposely framed this photo within the arch of the tunnel under the Pont Tournelle -- the bridge which crosses over the quai where the barge was moored. This particular angle was used in countless episodes during scene changes, so it should be particularly recognizable. I was going by memory here, so maybe the shot doesn't exactly line up like in the show. And of course, there's no barge in my shot. But still, I think it's damn close. Also, it was around 7:00 in the morning here, and the quai was freaking FREEZING! My hands were in so much pain trying to grip the camera steady for multiple shots until I got just the right one. The things I do for my obsession! :)

And here I am at the actual spot along port de la Tournelle where the barge was moored for most of six seasons. In season 2, the barge was briefly moved to a different location in Paris due to flooding of the quai. I was praying that it would not be flooded this time, and luckily my prayers came true. Just look at that smug smile on my face! This place was literally just a 3 minute walk from my hotel, so of course I visited it almost every day. Wouldn't you?

And here I am standing in The Tunnel -- the same one in which I took the very first picture at the top of this post. The Tunnel was also used in too many episodes to count, so just pick one and VOILA! The second of the two pics I took because of that one episode where Methos is hiding just inside the recess where I'm standing and MacLeod almost mistakes him for an enemy Immortal. Remember? Duncan says: "I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod" and Methos replies: "Yes, I know -- " before Mac whips out his blade and nearly takes poor Adam Pierson's head! It was foggier in that scene of course, and at night, but you get the coolness.

This is me standing at the nearby steps from where the barge was moored in the second season. Maurice's little tug boat was tied close to here. If you need a cool episodic reference, check out "Prodigal Son" near the tail end of Season 2. In the scene where the baddie Immortal, Martin Hyde, confronts Maurice about the owner of "that barge." Maurice was coming up the other side of this block when Hyde shouts out "YOU!" -- but this angle was better for my camera.

I came across this shot quite by accident on our first day in Paris. Lisa wanted to take a nap when we got to our hotel, but I was too excited to sleep. So I took a stroll towards the Bastille memorial . . . and gasped aloud when I noticed where I happened to be walking. This is the boulevard Bourdon, which runs along the Port de Plaisance canal. It was used in a long shot of Mac and Fitzcairn arguing heatedly about love, and whether it's wise to keep important secrets from significant others, even if their lives might be put at risk by that knowledge. The episode is "Star-Crossed," and appears halfway through the 3rd season. It's always been one of my favorite scenes, because I love the chemistry between Adrian Paul and Roger Daltrey (of The Who fame) who come across as genuine friends. I didn't know the address for this location, so it was quite fortuitous that I came across it the way that I did. Watching that episode, however, I always had the feeling that it was nearby to where the barge was located. And I was right!

This is the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. It was where Mac first sees a married Tessa in the heartbreaking 2-episode arc, "2 Be/Not 2 Be," in the series finale in the 6th season.

This is, of course, the Eiffel Tower, as seen from the Parc du Champ de Mars. This area was used famously in the season 3 closer titled, appropriately, "Finale: part II." This was where Methos, Amanda, and Joe watched breathlessly from the ground while Mac and Kalas battle it out in the upper levels of the tower.

This is the Obelisk at Place de la Concorde. The location was used when MacLeod chases after and finally catches up to that crazy (but beautiful) Immortal, Nefertiri, in the season 2 episode "Pharaoh's Daughter".

This is me standing in front of the infamous Shakespeare & Co. Well, it's pretty famous to lovers of English literature . . . but also well-known to Highlander fans in particular as the secret Watcher hangout where Adam Pierson worked and conducted his subterfuge. It's insidious, of course, because this is where Kalas tortures and kills an old man to gain knowledge of the whereabouts of the oldest Immortal in existence -- Methos. It was used primarily in the 3rd season episode, "Methos." In this pic, I'm holding some recent purchases. In my right hand is The Long Good-Bye, by Raymond Chandler. And in my left . . . why that's Devil in a Blue Dress, by one Walter Mosley. I bought the last for my best friend, Tarrell, for his birthday. Happy bornday, T! :)

Just around the corner from Shakespeare & Co, and up the street, is the church of St. Julien le Pauvre. But us fans of the show know it as the church where Brother Darius lived and worked. I'm standing in front of the church in the top pic, within a framed shot used a couple of times throughout the second half of the 1st season. The church was not opened our first day in Paris, but was opened 2 days later on a Monday afternoon. The middle pic is an interior shot also used in several episodes. I could not believe my eyes when I stepped through the door and was greeted by such a familiar sight! The last pic is, sadly, where Mac finds Darius's headless body after he is murdered by renegade Watchers in the 1st season finale, "The Hunters".

These last two locations were also used in the 1st season finale, during the scene where Mac tracks down a "Hunter" and begins questioning him in multiple different languages, all the while following him until the two reach the above courtyard. A huge brawl then ensues between Mac and about half a dozen or more Hunters as onlookers from the nearby building gawk and point. Eventually Richie rides in on his motorbike and "rescues" Mac, which is really one of the rare times he can claim to do so, eh?

I stumbled across this site by accident as well, during one of my many walks alone exploring the side-streets of Paris while Lisa took a nap back at our hotel. The arched arcade in the top pic surrounds the Place des Vosges, a plaza created by King Henri IV so that Parisiens would have somewhere to congregate and "chill out" like the Spaniards and Italians did.

I was racking my brain trying to figure out where the infamous courtyard could be in this same area, until I noticed two strollers stepping through an open doorway at the end of the long arcade. You can see them in the background of the top picture. I followed them, stepped through the doorway, and nearly passed out when I saw what I had been searching for. So perfect a moment! This is the picturesque courtyard behind the Hotel de Sully. Look it up if you're ever in the Marais district of Paris.

And so, that's the end of my pictorial tour. Hope you had as much fun reliving your favorite Highlander moments as I had visiting the sites on which they were filmed. The whole experience was so surreal for me, and only heightened the heady feeling that seemed to follow me wherever I went in this beautiful, magic city. Along the way I met many amusing people -- as well as some mild altercations with a group of street thugs or two -- all the while abusing the ears of unsuspecting Parisiens with my pitiful few (but helpful) French phrases.

It was a blast. I highly recommend walking as much as possible when visiting Paris. As I've shown, you never know just what you'll come across around that next corner on any given side-street.

***EDIT: I have since updated with more Highlander filming sites. To view them, click on the following link to visit Part 2 of my Highlander Tour of Paris!


  1. I am sooooooo jealous!! Didn't need to read your captions to recognize each place :)

  2. Great photos. I never made it to the bookstore-looks worth the trip itself. Maybe I'll have to go back.

  3. CH -- Cool! Then you are ,indeed, a true HL fan! :)

    Kim -- I'd use ANY excuse to go back a second time (haha).

    We're seriously in depression mode right now, that's how much we miss Paris. In such a short time, it almost felt like our second home. Chalk that up to how welcoming and patient Parisiens are, I suppose.

  4. Hello! I just discovered your site and being a Highlander freak myself, I found your trip to be extremely interesting!
    I have a question though, which particular Quai was used for season 2?
    I can't seem to find it anywhere?

    Thank you!


  5. James -- Thanks for visiting! Glad to find another Highlander freak like myself. :)

    Unfortunately, you ask a very good question that I myself cannot answer. I tried finding the location while walking along the Seine and hoping that the scenery would become "familiar" to me once I happened upon it -- but no dice!

    Either the barge was moved to a location much farther upstream than I'd realized, or I need watch my episodes again.

    I'd gladly do the latter before my next trip to Paris. Maybe I'll have the answet then. If I do, I'll update this site.

    For the record, though, the barge was only moved for a few episodes in season 2. By the time of "Prodigal Son," it had been returned to the orginal location, the quai de la Tournelle. Albeit, slightly further up the quai closer to Notre Dame (just before the bridge, pont de l'Archeveche).

  6. Very cool pictures! There's a strong possibility of a tour of Highlander filming sites next February (possibly with either Adrian Paul or Peter Wingfield coming along for part of it) sponsored by Highlander Worldwide, so I was looking for pictures just like yours in anticipation.


  7. Valoise,

    That sounds extremely interesting! I'm familiar with HLWW and of the last Paris tour they did a few years back. In fact, I just purchased the DVD of that a few months ago. It wasn't very helpful for me in terms of finding sites I haven't already been to, but it was a cool watch nonetheless.

    I have to find out more now about this next HLWW trip. Maybe I can join in! :)

  8. um thanks so much for this! you made it easy for me to find a few of my spots, and create a list for next time! of course i should also say my friend is not a fan since i made her follow me on my crazy journey, LOL! so worth it... really a fabulous day! thanks again... ha i even drew a watcher symbol on my wrist for the adventures

  9. Tamra -- that is so awesome! I'm pleased you enjoyed my humble trip account. Like your friend, my wife played a good sport while I dragged her to all these locations. Of course, it's not really "dragging" when you're talking about Paris! :)

    Thanks for stopping by. And I hope you checked out part 2 of this tour.

  10. Whoaaaaa!!! Epic! Thanks for the link.

  11. Sure! I knew you'd appreciate this more than most. :)

  12. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm going to Paris for the first time in April, would you recommend staying in the 5th Arrondissement since much of the film locations were there?
    Erik in NorCal

  13. Hi Erik!

    Thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed my HL locations report, and I'm thrilled you're going to Paris for the first time. I remember my first time so well! :)

    The 5th is a fantastic place to stay! I love the Latin Quarter! Many people (mostly Parisians) claim it is too touristy. But since this will be your first time, I think it's perfect. I spend a lot of time there when we're in Paris, so I know the area well. We usually stay a stone's throw away on Île Saint-Louis, which is in the 4th arrondissement. Île Saint-Louis is the island "next door" to Notre Dame. Stop by there when you're in Paris -- it has a lovely old-world charm and is a great place to have dinner at one of the many wonderful bistros and restaurants there.

    Have fun!

  14. Savez vous quel épisode fut tournée à Honfleur en normandie?

  15. Where is that tunnel???

  16. David, I am a huge fan of Highlander: The Raven, and loved finding your post. I've been to Paris before and discovered many Raven scenes (which of course were originally seen with Duncan). I leave for Paris again Friday and my hotel looks over the quai where the barge was moored.

  17. Lucky you! I wish I were leaving for Paris. And also, what a great location! It's still my favorite spot to visit, you know? Please let me know how your trip goes. Especially what you think of your hotel.

    Have fun!

  18. Hello David!
    Wow! This blog is amazing! I am an old crazy Highlander fan, I just love it so much, you're right, it's the best TV series ever made. This year I will go for the first time to Paris, and one of my dream was to visit the Highlander sites. (I was so happy when I saw in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris movie the Shakespeare & Company bookstore at the end.) So, when I was searching the internet I was so surprised and happy to find your blog. It's perfect! Just what I was hoping to find! It helps a lot. I can't wait to arrive there! Thank you for sharing your expericence!

  19. You're very welcome, Erz! :)

    Receiving such enthusiastic responses like this from readers makes me really happy! I hope you have a great trip, and -- don't lose your head!

  20. James (There can be only one)August 4, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    Great blog David, I know this is an old show now...BUT... I still enjoy it a lot.
    I'm off to Paris in October and I'm so excited by it, and glad I found your blog to help pin point the locations I want to visit. Lets hope I can keep my head and not get to excited by this iconic visit.

  21. Great, James. Have fun! I was planning on going back this October as well. Alas, the best laid plans ...

    But I hope you get to visit some of these sites while there. It's worth it for the thrill you'll get, seeing as how you're obviously a big fan like me. Exciting!

  22. James (There can be only one)November 1, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Got back home last night. What a lovely place Paris is and for the weather in October, I could not have asked for more, the sun was out and no rain. Brilliant.
    Visited all the tourist sites and YES the sites from the Highlander show. I'm not sure I could pick a favourite place but the church of St. Julien le Pauvre. Where Darius dies was some what of a thrill.
    Thick I annoyed the wife a few times, keep pointing out landmarks and telling her this is where so and so happened. HAHA. But Paris it self.....I will Return.....

  23. Yes, Darius' church was my favorite as well. And did you get to go inside? Some days the church is open to visitors, and some days it is not. I just kept going back each day until it was! :-)

    You sound like me after my first trip there. I did the same annoying things to my wife -- her eyes were constantly rolling! But I'm jealous you had such perfect weather. See, I *knew* October was the month to go! Since I always end up going in March, I had no such luck. Both times I went it rained off and on all week. And was cold and miserable at times, too! You definitely got the better deal, James.

    Glad you had so much fun. And glad to hear you'll be returning. So shall I, probably next year.

  24. James (There can be only one)November 4, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    Hey David, I walked up to the church doors tried the centre ones,AHH No luck...(locked) then I saw the side door...Nearly wet my self when it opened HAHAHA. and walking in side was unreal. Even the wife got excited by it.

  25. This is so cool! I'm looking forward to making a similar trip. It was great to follow yours. Great inspiration and its always nice to read stuff from fellow Highlander fans. Take care.

  26. Brother Darius the general who became a monk
    I like the series allot, the places that a immortal has seen :)

  27. Great blog! I also made my pilgrimage in the series to paris! I would like your opinion right? in the episode "band of brothers"
    the fight at 25:00 was shot in two places, I visited the site, and what we see on the back of this Dunkan are not what is in front of the church, it which is located opposite the church is more mordene buildings / sorry lol .... actually saw the architecture there may be behind the church plans to face dunkan. (sorry for my english)

  28. pe finally I went to church , I was right but in real terms , which is at the back of MAC is located just coterie of the church door !! you see the sort of giant bird cage ? and although it is a dimension of casiement entered the door of the church and not in front lol

  29. You truly are a superfan thanks for sharing.

  30. How did Darius manage to hide his identity from the generations of Mortals that surrounded him ?

  31. I will go to Paris soon. I have never been there. I'm also a huge hilghlander fan. Do you have a "tourist road map" of some sort or a list of places?

  32. Excellent pictures in both blogs. I'm jealous you had so many days to explore and find all those wonderful filming locations. We went in mid June of 2016 and had great weather the three days we were there despite the fact the Seine was still a little high from the flooding at the beginning of June. We visited the Quai de la Tournell, St.Julien's, Shakespeare & Co, the Obelisk, Sacre Coeur and Tour Eiffel. I'm surprised you didn't go looking for that very prominent corner where Duncan and Amanda emerge after being downstairs in the jazz bar.


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