The French Dispatch | Looking for Wes Anderson in Angoulême

The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson has been working on his new movie The French Dispatch for the last few months in the French town of Angoulême. We heard about it in December and, as big Wes Anderson fans, we booked our train tickets right away. We had to wait for the kid’s school holidays though so we couldn’t go before February. It was so special to be there, looking at the set and walking through the streets were they had been filming. A bit like a real life scavenger hunt!

wes anderson zoeken

The story

Everything is still top secret but what is known until now, is that the story will take place in France (between 1946 and 1975?). We will be following two American journalists living and working in France. They might be living in Paris but some whisper it will take place in a fictional town called Ennui-sur-Blasé.

Lots of old cars around town

The cast

The French Dispatch has an incredible casting. We will be seeing Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Benicio del Toro, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Alex Lawther, Frances McDormand, Kate Winslet, Jason Schwartsman and French actors Léa Seydoux, Cécile de France, Mathieu Amalric and many more.

Part of the cast of The French Dispatch


While we were in town, we read in the newspaper that Bill Murray had been spotted at the golf course of Angoulême the day before but we did not see him. We were so lucky to be able to watch Wes Anderson direct a scene, which was supercool! I wanted to see Adrien Brody and my youngest wanted to see Owen Wilson but no luck there 🙂

We did see one of the actors and my oldest son and my daughter did speak to him but as he told them it was ‘top secret’, they do not want to disclose on the blog which actor we met until they finished filming (!!), but I can tell you that it was one of the best days of their lifes 😉


The sets

The filming in Angoulême should be finished around the 15th of March. It was cool to see some of the sets that had been recreated in town. They filmed on the streets of Angoulême but also in a studio not very far, in the village of Gond-Pontouvre. When we left, they were still building one of the film sets, rue du Sauvage. It was so cool to see the decor change so extremely fast and really become something within a few days!

Film set construction…
…going fast
…and it’s high (you see it on the left)

When we watched one of the scenes being filmed, it was interesting to see how fast they left the scene after it was finished. The old cars, the fake pavement, everything was gone within 20 minutes! It was fun to see so many details on the streets, vans with ‘TFD productions’, security at street corners, etc..

Something’s happening here

Millions and millions

The French Dispatch has had the largest budget ever for a foreign movie in France. I read here that 27 million Euros were invested in France, 8 million going to the Charente, the region of Angoulême.

It is quite something for a small town like that. For example they used one of the hotels there privately for about 4 months, they used lots of old cars, fake snow, made decors, technicians, extra’s, security etc etc… so the whole thing was very positive for Angoulême and its region.

Removing the fake pavement

Die-hard fans

I was surprised to see that they were not really (m)any fans trying to watch the filming cause one can get really close. We could hear Wes Anderson talking when they were filming. My daughter wants to be a director and Wes is one of her inspirations so this was extremely special for her.

We sat there during the whole take and when it finished, my daughter told me that if she still had any hesitations about the choice of her study, all the doubts now were gone. So that’s a good thing. Thanks Wes 😉

Take 182746593

Unfortunately they filmed indoors (in the town hall and the building opposite it as well) on the last two days of our stay so eventhough we could walk in front of the two buildings, we couldn’t really see a lot.

Wes Anderson directing

But still, it was an amazing experience and we can’t wait to see The French Dispatch and recognize the locations.

At the town hall
And the Banque de France building

Beautiful historic town

On another note, Angoulême is a gorgeous historic fortified town, it really is beautiful. I had been there as a kid so I did not remember a lot about it except that I was spooked out at the time.

Gorgeous town
Old town of Angoulême

Now, so many years later, I understood why. Some spots in town are completely empty, kind of a ghosttown vibe to it plus the old buildings and churches and towers have that creepy feel but it’s very very beautiful. I understand 100% that Wes Anderson decided to shoot here.


Follow the last days

So we’re back in Holland now but if you would like to follow the filming and sets back in Angoulême, check the Instagram account of Sébastien Fauconnet. He lives there and posts what he sees on a regular base.

Pic by Sébastien Fauconnet
‘fake’ tower, pic by Sébastien Fauconnet

Update: the set they were building when we left is finished and it looks great. There are shops and cafés and again loads of old cars

Filmset getting along just fine, pic by Sébastien Fauconne

Update 2: This afternoon there was a pic (see below) of actor  Timothée Chalamet, a mystery woman in black and a woman (looks like Frances McDormand) rehearsing on the set. The pic was taken by Florian Gott Ferrier, click on the link below the pic to go to his Insta-account. So I guess, as he has been spotted a few times during the last days, I can now say that the actor my kids talked to when we were in Angoulême indeed was Thimothée Chalamet. So you get that they went all crazy haha

Photo by Florian Gott Ferrier

After that, we’ll just have to wait for the release of The French Dispatch in 2020! Are you a Wes Anderson fan? What is your favorite Wes movie?

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Frédérique is moeder van drie tieners en werkzaam als tekstschrijver en communicatiestrateeg in de culturele sector. Ze houdt van Frankrijk, van mimosa, van de geur van gebakken knoflook, van de Middellandse Zee (‘haar’ zee want aan die zee is ze geboren), fotografie, musea, haute couture, films en hotels (daar heeft ze een speciale liefde voor, ze zou het liefst in een hotel wonen.)

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