Jeanne Hollande: Filming at Versailles Is ‘Not a Question of Commercial Purpose’

Versailles’ external relations director talks about the challenges of filming in the Palace

The palace and gardens of Versailles have supplied the backdrop to more than 180 films over the last 110 years

. Some of the big-name pictures filmed at the palace include “Midnight in Paris,” one of Woody Allen’s biggest commercial hits, Benoît Jacquot’s “Farewell, My Queen” and Sofia Coppola’s “Marie-Antoinette.” As one of France’s most historic monuments and a marker of French identity, Jeanne Hollande, the Palace of Versailles’ shootings coordinator at the external relations department, said the palace makes the ideal backdrop for period pieces, especially those set in the 18th century. According to Hollande, the revenue earned from shooting fees is used to preserve the palace and the gardens.

Has the popularity of recent films shot in Versailles, including “Midnight in Paris” and “Farewell, My Queen,” increased the number of productions?

Not really; Versailles has hosted more than 180 films since 1904. It has always been a set appreciated by producers and always will be. Versailles is unique. But we’re always happy when a production shot in Versailles achieves public success. It’s another occasion for people in the world to discover Versailles from a different perspective.

Would your office ever directly contact a filmmaker or production company to encourage a shoot there?

Versailles is a must setting when you’re shooting a movie on history, particularly about the 18th century. Usually, production teams come to us with their own ideas, and we’re glad to help them build their project. But we would be very pleased to imagine a film in the Versailles of today. Again, it could be a different and modern way to discover Versailles.


How much does it cost to shoot a day at Versailles and how does that compare to other French chateaus?

Versailles is an incomparable place, and its image (palace and gardens) is famous all over the world. The prices are fixed by our board of directors and these earnings help us to achieve our main mission: protection and enlargement of our heritage. At this time, it costs €15,000 a day to shoot inside and €10,000 a day outside.

 
What would you say to people who campaign against the commercial use of French museums, monuments and historic buildings in films?


It’s a question of cultural knowledge. These movies are occasions to learn more about the history of France and of the palace. It’s not a question of commercial purpose. Earnings reported by filming is very minimal compared to the input of the public, our first patrons. The shoots always take place respectfully for the visitors and for the place. For example, we never close a room for a shoot, on a day when we’re open to the public.

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