Friday, July 1, 2011

The Accidental Princess in Monte Carlo

Opening in theaters today is this summer's teen escape movie Monte Carlo. And while it caters to a certain demographic, viewers will no doubt enjoy the scenes of Paris and Monte Carlo --  think of it as a two hour time transport without packing a single bag.

Part Roman Holiday and part How to Marry a Millionaire, Selena Gomez becomes an "accidental princess" when she travels to Paris with her family and a case of assuming another girl's identity turns into the trip of a lifetime. There are lots of great yacht parties, polo matches, eye candy, charity balls and luxurious hotels. And even though the reviews have been somewhat tepid, it's the ultimate two hour great escape.

The film also stars Leighton Meester of Gossip Girls and Katie Cassidy of Melrose Place and Nightmare on Elm Street. I love that the director wanted a "Neapolitan ice cream" effect with the casting as the women have three very distinct looks and personalities. Andie MacDowell plays Selena's mom.

Selena Gomez

Leighton Meester

The story takes place at the Hotel du Paris (can you tell I have a bad case of wanderlust this summer?) which was only used for a few days of filming due to limited access. Production designer Hugo Lucyzc-Wyhowski recreated the hotel on a soundstage in Budapest,  duplicating a convincing replica of the lobby and the Grimaldi Suite (of Prince Rainer fame). The regal Hotel du Paris was built in 1864 and showcases incredible marble pillars, Louis XVI furnishings, crystal chandeliers and tapestries in its Art Noveau structure.

Hotel du Paris in Monte Carlo

Suite of blue and white toile with view of the casino

Old world charm can be found in the famed lobby

And yes, the Texas scenes were also filmed in Budapest and often the audience is none the wiser. Filming also took place at the Stefania Palace which doubles for Monaco's Da Silva Ballroom and the Hungarian State Opera Palace. The magnificent Villa Eilenroc in Cap d'Antibes also has its moment in the spotlight. Once the property of American philanthropist Louis Beaumont and his opera singer wife, the picturesque home and gardens now belong to the city.

Eilenroc above and below

Stefania Palace
The costumes will not disappoint as couture dresses were custom made or borrowed from archives and include classics from Dior, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Gucci. The girls are also sporting outfits from  Zara, Theory, Miu Miu and Diane von Furstenberg.

The timing of this film could not be any more perfect with today's Prince Albert nuptials  as Monaco will be in the news all weekend. (I am thinking TBS might consider showing the "The Runaway Bride" this weekend as well but I digress...) In the meantime, you might check out Hitchcock's  To Catch a Thief which also had some memorable scenes in Monaco. Legend has it that Princess Grace died on the very same road that the famous car chase occurred in the film in another twist of timely irony.

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant on the set of To Catch a Thief
Happy July 4th holiday and speaking of holidays, many thanks to the editors of High Gloss magazine who featured Designs on Film and Cinema Style in their July/August this month. They highlighted one of my favorite holiday films....The Holiday. Enjoy!

Photo Credits: Hotel du Paris, Eilenroc, Paramount Pictures and Larry Horricks/Twentieth Century Fox.


  1. I am dying to see this movie, just for the scenery! Monte Carlo looks like such a beautiful place. I told my husband that is where we are going on our next vacation!


  2. I can't tell you how many movies I go to just for that reason!

  3. The Villa Eilenroc looks pretty fabulous from what I can see!

  4. The first picture shows the Casino of Monte Carlo. The Hotel de Paris (not Hotel 'du' Paris) is the building next to it, on the right.

  5. Thanks for the correction! Appreciate it!