No man in the world is smoother than James Bond, and no movie franchise that has made us want to explore the world more than 007. The cars, the girls, the lines, the scenery – it’s all iconic, and the exotic locations especially never disappoint.
You’d have to of been living under a rock not to know about Spectre, the latest addition to the Bond franchise. To wet your appetite for the latest instalment, and just ‘cos we love any old excuse to write about this big ol’ beautiful planet of ours, let’s look back at 007 of the best filming locations so far…
Monaco – Casino de Monte – Carlo
Monaco definitely has the sophistication and glamour necessary for Mr. Bond. The Monte Carlo Casino is more of a palace than a casino, but it’s just the kind of place where 007 would fit in perfectly. The Monaco Grand Prix is run right past the casino, and it’s THE place to go if you are looking for a luxurious gambling experience. It’s not only gorgeous, but also fully functional, where dressing to impress is mandatory. The rest of Monaco is all yachts, fancy cars, galleries, theatres, and the good life.
Bond spends some time gambling with his life at the Monte Carlo Casino in Golden Eye and Never Say Never Again; dancing with Domino or gambling with Xenia.
Thailand – James Bond Island
You don’t have to be a 007 fan to love James Bond Island. It’s in a drop dead gorgeous location in Thailand and part of an equally gorgeous national park. This limestone island – real name Khao Phing Kan – has a gorgeous beach, lush vegetation and awesome caves and caverns ideal for an evil lair. It looks out onto the iconic pillar island of limestone known as Ko Tapu that seems to defy gravity, and is now a major tourist attraction.
James Bond Island was the home to Scaramanga’s lair in The Man with the Golden Gun, and the surrounding area near Phuket was also used for scenes in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Switzerland and Italy – The Alps
Other than London, the Alps have the highest density of 007 filming locations in the world. They’re a skiers paradise, former Olympic venue, picturesque landscape, and set the perfect dramatic tone for a Bond film. So many epic Bond moments have been filmed in the Alps; including sensational ski chases, meetings over drinks and bungee jumps, filmed in areas such as Locarno, Cortina, the Furka Pass, Lauterbrunnen and Bern.
The Alps have been the backdrop for lots of James Bond films including Goldfinger, Golden Eye, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and The World is Not Enough. The most famous spot is probably the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant on Mount Schilthorn, which was used in OHMSS, where it served as the hideout for villain Ernst Blofeld. Naturally, Bond escaped by skiing down the mountain.
France – French Riviera & Chateau de Chantilly
The French Riviera is like a mix of Europe and the Caribbean. There’s the narrow winding streets in old towns that are ideal places for a film chase, and the beaches and shorelines that inspire slow-mo bikini shots of Bond Girls. Add in some French chateaus closer to Paris like the Chateau de Chantilly – which is now an art gallery – and you can see why the region was a popular filming location for Bond.
A View to Kill features the Chateau de Chantilly as the home of Max Zorin, and a fight scene between Bond and Mayday in the same film even takes place on the Eiffel Tower. The area of Menton was the setting for a crazy car vs. motorcycle chase in Never Say Never Again. Small towns such as Villefranche-sur-Mer were the setting of many famous scenes in NSNA. Nice, Cannes and Antibes are also significant filming locations for scenes including a bikini strangling in Diamonds are Forever.
Greece – Meteora and Corfu
007 movies always have the coolest villain lairs, and these film sets always become the best and most infamous tour attractions. One of, if not the coolest villain lair in history was set in the mountains in Meteora, just outside of Corfu.
There are six monasteries in Meteora, and they are all built into or on top of giant sandstone pillars. The location was thought to bring the monks closer to god, and served as untakeable fortresses in history.
For Your Eyes Only utilized Corfu and Meteora for the majority of its plot. Kristato’s lair was set in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, and 007 famously scales the sandstone to reach the hideout discreetly.
India – Lake Pichola & Udaipur
Lake Pichola in Udaipur is the home of Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir – two islands which house palaces straight out of a 007 fantasy. As “The Venice of the East”, Udaipur has dubbed itself the most romantic place in India, with gorgeous lakes, canals and palaces made of marble.
Udaipur’s Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Palace were used in Octopussy as the female-filled fortress of Kamal Khan. Several other locations including the Jagdish Temple, Shiv Niwas Hotel, City Palace, Gangor Ghat and Monsoon Palace were used in Udaipur as well.
UK – everywhere
Obviously you can’t have Bond without the UK. The beautiful countryside of Scotland, the hustle of London, the cemeteries, the old cottages – it’s his past, present and future. It’s always the home base for 007, and it’s where most of his stories begin and end, including the crucial headquarters of MI6, and as we learnt in recent years, his childhood home in Scotland – fictionally known as Skyfall. It may not be the most mysterious or the most remote, but it’s the essence of Bond, and always will be.
Cities used in filming include Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Hurley, Stonor, Oxford, Beaconsfield, Iver Heath (the home of Pinewood Studios where most of the Bond films were at least partially filmed), Surrey and the Highlands (which both housed aspects of Bond’s family home in Skyfall), and obviously London.