The Impressionists Vétheuil
The Impressionists Vétheuil, tournage

Val d’Oise, land of cinema

It is not by accident that Val d’Oise is the cradle of a steady and diversified film making.
It harbors mysterious sceneries taken from natural or urban landscapes. The fact that cinema can find inspiration, settings and exoticism here, is not surprising.

110 years of cinema

In 1901, a Gaumont News presenter took great pride in presenting the film “ Skaters on the lake of Enghien”. Men, in suits and hats, twirled around the frozen lake near the capital city. The extraordinary thing was that it happened behind the old fortifications as well as on the other side of the world. In 1912, Louis Blériot, tried his hovercraft on the Seine in Argenteuil.

In 1924, during the Olympic games, Pathé attended the regattas in Argenteuil and the marathon between Colombes and Pontoise. Stage managements becoming more and more elaborated,abandoned the techniques of the theatre. The cameras became more mobile in more realistic settings. The arrival of the talking movie implied the sound proofing of sets.

The Val d’Oise, so close, harbored mysterious settings carrying us into infinite remote universes and calling up the whole depth of cinematographic imagination. The Val d’Oise, conclusively revealing pictural modernity, has kept the secret of this adventure right in its landscapes and urban sites. The mystery has endowed the place with a spirit to which film makers are deeply sensitive.

The greatest film makers and the most beautiful stories

From Jean Renoir in 1932 (“The Night of the Crossroad”, “La Nuit du Carrefour”) to Jean Pierre Jeunet in 2001 (“The Fabulous destiny of AméliePoulain”, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’AméliePoulain”), through Claude Lelouch, Jacques Demy, Jean Becker, Costa Gavras, Eric Rohmer, Bertrand Tavernier or VincenteMinelli, the greatest film makers have found a range of sets fitting their inspirations in Val d’Oise. From large urban areas such as Sarcelles, Argenteuil and Cergy, to the VexinFrançais natural and architectural heritage through picturesque sceneries such as Enghien-les-Bains, Val d’Oise offers a wide range of film locations. Châteaux, churches, cemeteries, airfields, stations, middle class houses or plain detached houses, factories, schools, town-halls, and even airports offer the necessary background to a wide range of fictions.

Jean Gabin, Val d’Oise’s child

As an inevitable symbol of French cinema, Jean Alexis Gabin Moncorgé, known as Jean Gabin, is native of Mériel where he grew up. He was to become deeply committed to his countryside all his life. Starring in many masterpieces: La Bête Humaine, Quai des Brumes, La Grande Illusion, La Traversée de Paris, La Horse, Un Singe en hiver, Le Pacha. Jean Gabin is an emblematic figure of French Cinema, and has left an indelible mark on French heritage and collective memory.
Meriel, his native town, pays him tribute with a museum devoted to him, revealing the actor but also the man. You can also take the opportunity of following the young Gabin’s footsteps by visiting his old school or the family house, or by strolling on the banks of the Oise where he used to walk. This will be a moving experience.

Jean Gabin Museum

Download the book on cinema in Val d’Oise (french version)

This book is a guide of 1001 films shot over 110 years in the department. 


Jean Becker - "Dialogue avec mon jardinier"
Jean Becker - "Dialogue avec mon jardinier"
Jean Gabin Museum (Mériel)
Jean Gabin Museum (Mériel)