22 Jun 2014

Spectre's Thunderball Headquarters - Paris

Thunderball starts off in Paris after the pre-title sequence. The Eiffel Tower is visible from an ordinary street in Paris when Emilio Largo parks his Ford Thunderbird. Largo is attending a meeting at the Spectre headquarters, well disguised behind a regular building close to the Eiffel Tower. When Largo parks in the taxi zone a French police officer shouts "No parking here!" only to apologise immediately when he recognises Monsieur Largo. Largo is well known and evidently feared, even in the police force. 

The Spectre headquarters are located at No. 35 Avenue d'Eylau in the fashionable 16th arrondissement of Paris. The street runs just behind Place du Trocadéro and is aligned with the Eiffel Tower, resulting in the "perfect view" over the famous landmark (Largo however seems less than impressed).

"Hey, no parking here! Åh, pardon Monsieur Largo."

The splendid Adolfo Celi as one of the best villains in the series.
The sign on the building, visible when Largo enters, reads: 'Centre International d'Assistance aux Personnes Déplacées' or 'The International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons' as an administrator declares in the office. Thus, Spectre's legitimate front organiasation is a centre for internationally displaced persons, i.e. refugees. An internationally displaced person is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but still remains within his or her country's borders. How many displaced persons there are in France is a little unclear.

The filmmakers' idea for placing the Spectre headquarters in Paris comes from the original  Thunderball  novel. In the novel, Fleming locates the Spectre headquarters at Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. At the time of my visit, one of the apartments in the building was available for lease. So, if you are thinking about starting an upscale terrorist organisation aiming for world domination, this is the place to rent.

Interesting trivia about the location: the taxi zone where Largo parks in the film is still a taxi zone today, even though the sign has been replaced with a new one, and (for obvious reason) is turned the other way. A very nice restaurant called Di Vino is located on the other side of the street. It is highly recommended to stop here for coffee or a lunch. The terrace extends well into Avenue d'Eylau and from here you have a nice view over this spectacular location. The fact that the street looks much the same as it did in 1965 and that the taxi zone has been kept makes this a very enjoyable Bond location.

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