Giving aestheticism and technicolour pastel frames a new dimension, Wes Anderson’s films take a plunge into uncommon comic themes, unorthodox family structures, class issues and psychological conditions. His scenes often unfold against compelling backgrounds which become prominent characters themselves. Hence, the best shooting locations selected by Wes Anderson for his movies are a peek into the unusual yet wonderful world of this Academy Award-nominated director and hipster icon.
Anderson is known to celebrate the art of slow-motion shots, take/double-take techniques and the craft of upholding the minute details of inanimate objects. From The Darjeeling Limited (2007) to The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The French Dispatch (2021), his films are a visual treat. The filming locations hold pivotal narratives and the master director’s unique camera angles and character portrayals, make them appear straight out of a postcard. No wonder, Instagram reels often take inspiration from these iconic films.
Being an avid traveller has also helped Anderson look at a certain corner through the lens of his creative vision. Coupled with an overt sense of symmetry, bright colourways, catchy music and out-of-the-box scene composition, every filming location of Anderson comes out narrating its own story. So prominent is the depiction of these places that even those who haven’t seen his films can easily identify a particular Wes Anderson movie scene.
Here are the best shooting locations Wes Anderson chose for his movies
Görlitz, Germany — The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The historic old town of Görlitz in Eastern Germany serves as the principal shooting location for this iconic Wes Anderson film. It is located about 97 km from Dresden, bordering Poland and Czechia. Although the film is set in a fictitious East European country called Zubrowka, fans can visit many of the sights in real life.
The bright pink cake-like exterior might just be a model, but fans can visit the location of the hotel — Görlitzer Warenhaus. Anderson transformed this old dilapidated 1913 department store, which is located in Demian Platz beside the Frauenkirche.
Anderson completely took over this Art Nouveau-style departmental store and converted it into the lavish interior of the hotel. He also made rooms out of the old store galleries. The medieval architecture, grand staircase and atriums of the store made for the stunning period hotel lobby and interiors. Interestingly, two eminent Czechia hotels — The Grand Hotel Pupp and The Palace Bristol Hotel — are real-world inspirations for the Grand Budapest Hotel.
The hotel’s restaurant, where young writer Zero (Tony Revolori) tells his story, is the performance space inside the Stadthalle, the old city hall on Reichenberger Straße near the city park built in 1910. The ‘Trophy Room’ in Madame Desgoffe’s (Tilda Swinton) house, where Deputy Vilmos Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) reads the disputed will, and the hall of armour in the museum through which Vilmos is later stalked, are all housed in this location.
The hotel’s Arabian baths, where the young writer (Jude Law) meets the older Zero Moustafa (F Murray Abraham), are filmed in an old Görlitz bathhouse. The interiors of the high-end Mendl’s bakery were shot inside a 19th-century Dresden dairy shop named Dresdner Molkerei Gebrüder Pfund. Additionally, another Görlitz storefront is depicted as its outer facade.
The majestic Zwinger Palace in Dresden is a picturesque location of The Grand Budapest Hotel where Vilmos is chased by Jolping (Willem Dafoe).
Besides The Grand Budapest Hotel, Görlitzer has served as the backdrop for other films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) and WWII dramas The Reader (2008) and The Book Thief (2013).
How to reach: The nearest airport to Görlitz is Dresden. However, availing a train from Berlin Airport can be a more convenient option. You can hire bikes to go around the town. While in Germany, don’t forget to add Berlin, Munich, Rhine Valley, Black Forest and Cologne to your list.
Best time to visit: The peak season to visit Germany is between June and September, while the winter months of December, January and February are the low season.
Rhode Island, USA — Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Rhode Island might be the smallest US state but that did not stop it from becoming a noted Wes Anderson filming location. Conanicut Island, the second largest island on Narragansett Bay, became the filmmaker’s New England fictional town of New Penzance in Moonrise Kingdom.
If you have always wanted to rush out like Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who eloped from Camp Ivanhoe and home respectively, you can do so in reality. There’s a real scout camp, Camp Yawgoog, which served as the director’s muse for the Fort Lebanon scenes.
Conanicut Island Light, the currently inactive lighthouse, served as Suzy’s house named Summer’s End. Located on the northern end of the island, it is now a private residence. The crew paid special attention to the minutiae of every prop and all the elements of the house’s interior to make sure it was in tandem with Anderson’s vision. It was created inside the old Linen ‘N’ Things store, in Middletown, north of Newport.
How to reach: Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport is located just 10 minutes from Providence and is well-connected to other nearby destinations such as Boston, Cape Cod and Southeastern New England. You can also take a train from Newark or New York and reach Rhode Island. The state has great biking trails, and you can also take buses, ferries and cabs to explore the beaches and islands.
When in the USA, don’t forget to visit Los Angeles, New York, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.
Best time to visit: June to August is the peak season, while spring and fall are shoulder seasons to visit the USA. If you wish to experience verdant fall foliage, visit between September and November.
Porto di Ponza Island, Italy — The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
This quaint Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea is another of Wes Anderson’s picturesque filming locations. When Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), and the rest of his oceanography crew, are rescued by his wife Eleanor’s (Anjelica Huston) ex-husband and his archrival, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum), their boat named Belafonte is towed into Port-au-Patois Harbour. However, this is just one of the very few real-life locations that appear in the film.
In this film-within-the-film narrative, Steve Zissou’s film screening takes place in a grand theatre which, in real life, is the San Carlo Theatre in Naples. In another instance of outdoor shooting, one of Steve’s ocean documentaries, Adventure No.12 ‘The Jaguar Shark’ (Part 1), shows his hometown in Pescespada Island in the Obiamiwe Peninsula. In reality, it is Torre Astura in Nettuno, located to the south of Rome.
How to reach: The island is easily accessible by ferry from Anzio, Terracina and Napoli. These are well-connected by road and train from other parts of the country. When in Italy, don’t forget to visit Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany and Milan.
Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn are the best seasons to visit the Italian coast.
Rajasthan, India — The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
The film stars Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody as the three bickering brothers Jack, Francis and Peter respectively, who embark on a spiritual enterprise and face several life-altering situations. And, India’s Northwestern state of Rajasthan became Anderson’s main filming location for this flick.
Shooting mainly took place in Udaipur and Jodhpur. The film departs from typical Andersonian techniques as the filmmaker allowed the free passage of crowds and cars to capture the hustle of the cities. The bazaars, the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, the lakes and the rolling sand bring the rustic flavour alive.
If you didn’t already know, Darjeeling Limited is a fictitious train. However, the production team roped in an actual locomotive — Rajasthan on Wheels — which operated on schedule timing but did not pick up any passengers during the shooting. The scenes of Patricia’s (Anjelica Huston) The Himalaya Convent were specifically filmed in Udaipur.
How to reach: Jodhpur has its own airport, although one can easily travel via rented cars, buses or trains from the capital city of Jaipur. Udaipur too is well-connected by roads from Jodhpur and Jaipur. Although the list is endless, while in Rajasthan don’t forget to add Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, and Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh and Bikaner to your itinerary.
Best time to visit: Being a desert state, December to February is the best time to visit Rajasthan.
New York, USA — The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
For this movie, Anderson travelled to the Big Apple to create an archetypal New York flick but also scouted for locations which weren’t identified as NYC.
Royal Tenenbaums (Gene Hackman) lives in a lavish apartment on 111 Archer Avenue. In real life, it is shot in the Charles H. Tuttle Mansion at 339 Convent Avenue, 144th Street in Harlem. The Tenenbaum’s Summer House on the fictitious Eagle’s Island is actually located on 21 Tier Street in western City Island in The Bronx. For a closer look at Royal’s opulent life, head to Waldorf Astoria. It becomes the seat of the Lindbergh Palace Hotel, where Royal gets kicked out for non-payment of his 22-year-long stay.
If you wish to grab some gourmet ice cream like Royal and his daughter Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), you would have to look for another spot. The glamorous restaurant was created at the top of the grand staircase in the Grand Prospect Hall at 263 Prospect Avenue, Park Slope in Brooklyn.
How to reach: New York’s John F Kennedy Airport is extremely well-connected with all major cities across the world. Subways, cabs and buses are easily available to go around the cities. While in New York, do visit Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.
Best time to visit: June to August are the peak seasons. You can visit during spring to experience fall, while winters have great Christmas fervour all over.
Angoulême, France — The French Dispatch (2021)
It is hard to believe that a traveller like Wes Anderson hadn’t visited France until the making of The French Dispatch. The movie is set in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, which depicts 1960s Paris in the penumbra of his unique vision.
However, the film was not shot in Paris. Instead, the crew went to Southwestern France and filmed in Angoulême, which is about 2 hours from Bordeaux. A mesh of beautiful winding streets and old-world charm, the town was made into Paris of the period that the film is set in. Anderson also took 900 locals as extras and filmed for nearly six months.
While the French Dispatch office facade was erected outside Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, an abandoned Cofpa felt factory at nearby Gond-Pontouvre became the interior of the newspaper house.
How to reach: Bordeaux is the nearest prominent airport, located about 113 km from Angoulême. You can opt for the train from Paris too, which takes slightly more than two hours. When in France, do visit the Eiffel Tower, Nice, Corsica, Normandy and the French Riviera.
Best time to visit: Spring and summer are the best times to visit France as the weather is pleasant and clear.
Chinchón, Spain and Arizona, USA — Asteroid City (2023)
The deserts of Arizona became the inspiration for Anderson’s 2023 film Asteroid City starring Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Bryan Cranston and Margot Robbie.
The movie evokes quintessential Wes Anderson moods with its pastel-shaded frames and controlled mise-en-scène. While not a great deal is known about the film yet, it has made quite a mark with its 2023 Cannes Film Festival premiere. Its IMDb description reads, “The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer convention is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.”
The Spanish town of Chinchón is another major filming location for this movie. Bordered by olive groves and vineyards, the town is also a hub of bullfighting. It takes place at the gorgeous central plaza lined with teal-coloured balconied houses.
How to reach: Chinchón is an easy day trip from Madrid and is well-connected by road. You can take a bus, cab or simply drive down. Besides Madrid, don’t miss out on adding Barcelona, Seville, San Sebastián and Sierra Nevada National Park to your Spanish itinerary.
Best time to visit: June to August is the best time to visit Chinchón. However, if you are planning to go for a full Spain trip, you can also plan between March and May.
Hero and feature image: Courtesy Asteroid City/Roger Do Minh/IMDb
This story first appeared on Travel + Leisure Global.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Yes, The Darjeeling Limited was shot in Rajasthan, India, and covered Udaipur and Jodhpur mostly.
Answer: Wes Anderson's 2023 film Asteroid City is principally shot in Arizona, USA, and Chinchón, Spain.
Answer: Moonrise Kingdom has been primarily shot in Rhode Island, USA.
Answer: Pastel-shaded frames, vibrant splash of colours, perfect symmetry and catchy music are some of the trademarks of a Wes Anderson film. Depicting rather unconventional themes, familial issues, psychological conditions and a quest for validation, the backgrounds are as much a part of the narrative as the characters.