The first season of the Netflix show Emily in Paris was a boon for some businesses in the French capital's 5th arrondissement, where it takes place. But with production returning for Season Two, many local residents are exasperated.
PARIS — At the foot of the Pantheon, in Paris's 5th arrondissement, the trucks are back. A few steps away, the small and usually quiet Place de l'Estrapade is animated by the coming and going of cameras, projectors and costumes. All the hubbub is because of a project called "Charade." That's at least what the many posters hanging around the neighborhood explain, but that is in itself a charade — a cover to keep the paparazzi at bay.
The real story is that Emily is back in town. Emily in Paris, that is, the hit Netflix series that first aired in October 2020 and is currently shooting its second season. The recipient of two Golden Globe nominations, the show follows the adventures of a young woman from Chicago who moves to Paris. It's marked by just about every cliché in the book, starting with the scenery.
"The Place de l'Estrapade is quite cinematic in its architecture. Everything lends itself to this glamorous and Parisian atmosphere," says production manager Jérôme Albertini.
Since May 24, the production has occupied the premises (already used for the first season, in August 2019) a few days a month. And among residents, annoyance swells with each return trip.
Laurence, who is 50, has lived here for 37 years, between the restaurant Terra Nova and the bakery. Both establishments are used as backdrops for the series.
"There is no compensation for the inhabitants who can no longer park, nor go out or return home freely," says Laurence. One evening, at the beginning of July, she had the misfortune of taking a souvenir photo with her phone. "A guy came up to me, demanded that I delete the photo and even took my phone to confirm the total deletion of this unfortunate picture," she says.
With Emily in Paris, we discovered the arrogance of blockbusters.
In June, her husband was simply looking for parking. With seven streets in the neighborhood and part of the Pantheon square closed off, he expressed his displeasure to a member of the production. "If you're not happy, you can go live in the provinces," he was told.
Virginie, a pharmacist a few blocks away, is equally fed up with Emily in Paris. She talks about problems with the production team because she is "not allowed to walk on their sidewalk." One evening, she and her husband were on their way to dine with friends at the Place de l'Estrapade when they were stopped.
"They didn't want to believe us," she explains. "Finally, a security guard escorted us to the door to check that we were going to the right place."
Lily Collins on the set of Emily in Paris — Photo: Official Emily in Paris Instagram Account: @EmilyinParis
Laurence says that people here are used to the presence of film crews. "But with Emily in Paris, we discovered the arrogance of blockbusters. Because they pay the shopkeepers and the parking, they think they have bought the whole neighborhood."
Recently, this area of the 5th arrondissement also became the set of La Page Blanche, an adaptation of the comic strip by Boulet and Pénélope Bagieu. "But they're at least more discreet than the American productions," says Stéphane, a hairdresser on rue de l'Estrapade.
Neverthless, Albertini, the Emily in Paris production manager, says no complaint has reached him, though he does recognize the inconvenience caused by the parking.
It is above all the shopkeepers who are the most satisfied.
"We would consider paying the parking for the residents to compensate them," he says. So far, though, the producers have made no effort to do so. As far as relations with the arrondissement's city hall, everything is also going well. And it's true that some residents find the filming "amusing" and are even pleased that it "gives life to the neighborhood."
But it is above all the shopkeepers who are the most satisfied. Tonka, a baker whose establishment appears in the series, understands that residents are frustrated, but doesn't hide the fact that it's been good for business. "I make my usual turnover thanks to the production's compensation without having to produce a single baguette," she says.
The bakery also benefits from the free marketing. Tonka still can't believe it: "It's unimaginable how many people it brought in. I don't know how much I would have had to spend to get such worldwide publicity."
It's the same situation a few feet away, at the restaurant Terra Nova, a key location renamed "Les Deux Compères" in the series. A new, young and trendy clientele has shown up on the establishment's red benches. Terra Nova has even added an "Emily menu" as a nod to the show.
Many are already looking forward to the release of Season 2. In October 2020, hundreds of Emily in Paris fans crowded Place de l'Estrapade to take pictures of the filming locations. They returned again this summer.
Maëlys, a 14-year-old living in Créteil, a suburb, is there to take pictures. Her mother Nérysa says, "She is a fan, we came just for that."
The teenager is a little disappointed not to have seen the star of the series, Lily Collins. This was her last opportunity to witness the shooting, which officially wrapped up on July 30. For the local residents, it didn't come a moment too soon.