Where Cheri was Shot
Cheri is Hollywood’s belated sequel to Gigi. The two don’t seem to have much in common, but think about it: Both Cheri and Gigi are children of courtesans, both films are based on novels penned by Colette and set in Belle Epoque Paris. Although one explores the dark and troubled side, the other always keeps on the sunny side of Parisian life.
Both stories are centered on the same truth: that love is a very powerful beast indeed, the one human instinct that has not been thoroughly domesticated. We may try to tame it, in the knowledge that it can wreck even our most carefully thought-out schemes and designs, but we must never think that we have it fully under our control. If we let our guard slip for one instant, it can turn on us and tear our hearts out with a single strike of its savage claw.
The key location of the movie is the place where Michelle Pfeiffer has her flat: a building known as the Hôtel Mezzara (60 Rue de la Fontaine in the 16th arrondissement) which was designed by Hector Guimard, better known perhaps as the designer of the Parisian Metro stations.
In the film, director Stephen Frears shows us a cobbled street where Pfeiffer’s toyboy – the eponymous Cheri – approaches his lover’s house, but this was actually filmed half a dozen blocks away in Rue Eugene Manuel just off Rue de Passy. The doorway where Cheri seeks cover is the entrance to the building at no. 2, a famous Art Nouveau apartment building designed by the architect Charles Klein.
Other Parisian locations include the church of Saint Etienne du Mont where Cheri gets married, the Hotel Regina where he moves in after separating from his wife, and, inevitably for a movie which so lovingly displays Belle Epoque splendour in all of its Art Nouveau decadence, the restaurant Maxim’s where Cheri spends many a carefree evening. (In the film, the restaurant is called the Dragon Bleu.)