C'était un rendez-vous

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

C'était un rendez-vous
Rendezvous poster.jpg
Poster for the DVD release
Directed byClaude Lelouch
Written byClaude Lelouch
Distributed bySpirit Level Film (DVD)
Release date
Running time
8 minutes

C'était un rendez-vous (English: It Was a Date) is a 1976 French short film directed by Claude Lelouch, showing a high-speed drive through Paris.


The film shows an eight-minute drive through Paris during the early hours (05:30) of a Sunday morning in August (when much of Paris is on summer vacation), accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine, gear changes and squealing tyres. It starts in a tunnel of the Paris Périphérique at Porte Dauphine, with an on-board view from an unseen car exiting up on a slip road to Avenue Foch. Well-known landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, Palais Garnier, and Place de la Concorde with its obelisk are passed, as well as the Champs-Élysées. Pedestrians are passed, pigeons sitting on the streets are scattered, red lights are ignored, one-way streets are driven up the wrong way, centre lines are crossed, and the car drives on the sidewalk to avoid a rubbish lorry. The car is never seen as the camera seems to be attached below the front bumper (judging from the relative positions of other cars, the visible headlight beam and the final shot when the car is parked in front of a kerb on Montmartre, with the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica behind, and out of shot). Here, the driver gets out and embraces a young blonde woman as bells ring in the background, with the famous backdrop of Paris.


Shot in a single take, it is an example of cinéma vérité. The length of the film was limited by the short capacity of the 1000 foot 35mm film reel, and filmed from a (supposedly) gyro-stabilised camera mounted on the bumper of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. A photo has surfaced that seems to reveal an Eclair cam-flex 35mm camera with a wide angle lens, and a typical "speed rail" hard mount—no gyros—on a Mercedes. This model, which could reach a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph), was only available with a three-speed automatic transmission. Lelouch drove his own car himself and claimed that the top speed achieved was around 200 km/h in the 1.3 km avenue Foch.[1] Lelouch also claimed during a "making of" documentary that the soundtrack was dubbed with the sound of Lelouch's Ferrari 275GTB, which has the corresponding number of gears and a V12 sound that is quite distinct from that of any V8, including the 6.9 litre V8 of the alleged Mercedes camera car.

On the chosen course there were two people who knew to expect Lelouch. First there was Élie Chouraqui, his first assistant, who was posted with a walkie-talkie in the Rue de Rivoli, behind the archway exiting from the gardens of the Louvre palace, meaning to assist the driver at the only blind junction (archway);[2] however, Lelouch has revealed that the radios failed, and if Chouraqui had tried to warn him of a pedestrian the message would not have been received. Anyway, the traffic light at that junction showed green. The other person who knew about his arrival was Lelouch's girlfriend Gunilla Friden. He'd told her he'd arrive within ten minutes at the Sacré-Cœur and asked her to appear upon his arrival.

DVD release[edit]

In 2003, documentary filmmaker Richard Symons contacted Claude Lelouch and after six months of arduous talks,[3] persuaded him the film should be restored from its original 35 mm negative and re-released on DVD. Symons' company Spirit Level Film now distributes the DVD worldwide.[4]


route on a map

The route was as follows: Bd Périphérique (exits at Porte Dauphine) · Av Foch · Pl Charles de Gaulle · Av des Champs-Elysées · Pl de la Concorde · Quai des Tuileries · Pl du Carrousel · R de Rohan · Av de l'Opéra · Pl de l'Opéra · Fromental Halévy · R de la Chausée d'Antin · Pl d'Estienne d'Orves · R Blanche · R Pigalle · Pl Pigalle · Bd de Clichy · (aborted turn at R Lepic) · R Caulaincourt · Av Junot · Pl Marcel Aymé · R Norvins · Pl du Tertre · R Ste-Eleuthère · R Azais · Pl du Parvis du Sacré Cœur.[5]

The route measures 10.597 km long, which indicates an average speed of approximately 80 km/h (50 mph).

time distance (m) leg dist (m) leg time (s) m/s km/h mph
00:10 0
00:27 457 457 17 27 97 60
00:37 631 174 10 17 63 39
01:16 1954 1323 39 34 122 76
01:25 2190 236 9 26 94 59
02:27 4117 1927 62 31 112 70
02:40 4441 324 13 25 90 56
03:19 5462 1021 39 26 94 59
03:36 5791 329 17 19 70 44
04:08 6632 841 32 26 95 59
04:26 6984 352 18 20 70 43
04:45 7357 373 19 20 71 44
04:52 7401 44 7 6 23 14
05:15 7836 435 23 19 68 43
05:19 7863 27 4 7 24 15
05:38 8159 296 19 16 56 35
05:48 8301 142 10 14 51 32
05:57 8416 115 9 13 46 29
06:24 8887 471 27 17 63 39
07:04 9714 827 40 21 74 47
07:48 10406 692 44 16 57 35
08:07 10597 191 19 10 36 23
total: 10597 477 22,2 80,0 50,0


Comments attributed to Lelouch indicate that he acknowledges the public's "moral outrage" over his method of shooting this film. He also states that he was prepared to take the risks in making the film, but that he was also ready to drop it if he came across any unexpected risk (pedestrian, obstacle, etc.).[6]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2003, Nissan released a promotional DVD for the 350Z entitled The Run. It featured multiple camera views of a copper coloured 350Z driving through the streets of Prague, ending with a rendezvous with a beautiful woman, an obvious homage to Lelouch.[3]

In 2007, the film was used as the music video for Snow Patrol's song "Open Your Eyes".

In late 2009, a short film called The Fast and the Famous, directed by Jeremy Hart, was released on YouTube. The film features Jay Leno behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. During his circuit of Mulholland Drive, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Drive, and Coldwater Canyon Drive, Leno makes several references to Lelouch's classic film.[7][8] In 2010, Jeremy Clarkson used the film as a basis for the opening scene of his DVD/Blu-ray The Italian Job.[citation needed]

In 2013, French indie pop band Phoenix used the film as a backdrop for live shows during the song "Love Like a Sunset Part I".[9]

On 17 February 2017, Ford Motor Company in association with Claude Lelouch released a 360 degree view remake of the film using a Ford Mustang. Unlike the original, the 2017 version contains several cut scenes and does not show the entire (original) route of Lelouch's 1976 version.[10]

In 2017, the British motoring show The Grand Tour produced an homage featuring a Bugatti Chiron driving across Turin[11] in the episode "Bah Humbug-atti".

The 2018 video game Forza Horizon 4 features a story mission in which the player drives an Alpine A110 around the streets of Edinburgh for a short film in an homage to C'était un rendez-vous.

In the video game Burnout Paradise, the radio host DJ Atomika mentions how watching C'était un rendez-vous inspired him to enter the street racing scene.

In 2018, series 2 episode 8 ("Escape From Paris") of the Amazon series Patriot featured a drive across Paris with shots taken from a camera mounted low on the front of a car. This appears to be an homage to "C'était un rendez-vous". In later scenes it even includes inappropriate engine noise and tyre squeal, just like the original.[12]

Tribute film[edit]

In 2020 Lelouch filmed a tribute film of the film with assistance from Scuderia Ferrari entitled Le Grand Rendez-vous, this time set in Monaco instead of Paris and starring Monegasque Scuderia driver Charles Leclerc.[13] Filming for the new version took place on the streets of Monte Carlo, featuring Leclerc driving a Ferrari SF90 Stradale. It took place on 24 May 2020, which was to have been the date of the Monaco Grand Prix that had been called off because of the global pandemic as only two major motorsport series had resumed competing as of that date.[14] The film premiered on 13 June 2020.[15]


  1. ^ https://news.autoplus.fr/Film-Claude-Lelouch-Cetait-un-rendez-vous-Blu-Ray-Ferrari-275-1462276.html Auto plus magazine : C'était un rendez-vous, 2013
  2. ^ "Most Radical Car Movie of All Time". Dark roasted blend. November 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Rendezvous: Exclusive interview". Lovefilm.com. Pam Casey.
  4. ^ Rendez-vous Archived 25 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Spirit Level Films website.
  5. ^ "Route during the "Rendez-vous" movie: dda's Pics and Story (1/1)". Virtualglobetrotting.com. 25 November 2005.
  6. ^ "Rendezvous Revealed" Archived 6 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. AutoMobile Magazine. November 2003 review. Bentleypublishers.com.
  7. ^ "Rendezvous? S’il vous plait!". AUSmotive.com. 31 December 2009.
  8. ^ The Fast and the Famous on YouTube
  9. ^ "French rockers Phoenix satisfy less-than-full-house crowd at EMU". MLive.com.
  10. ^ "VIDEO: ReRendezvous: A Ford Mustang VR Experience". performance.ford.com. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  11. ^ Ganapathy, Lata (13 December 2017). "The tent tour". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 December 2017. In Turin, they re-made the 1976 eight-minute film, Rendezvous, in a sense. They blasted through Turin in a Chiron. [Jeremy Clarkson] "It looks really good, fast, and wrong — to see a Chiron rip through a city at that speed through red lights. It's a nice finish to that film."
  12. ^ "Patriot - Escape From Paris (TV Episode 2018) - Connections - IMDb".
  13. ^ "F1's Charles Leclerc set for C'etait un Rendezvous remake". www.motorsport.com.
  14. ^ "F1's Charles Leclerc drives Monaco for controversial film remake". www.motorsport.com.
  15. ^ @F1 (25 May 2020). "Le Grand Rendez-vous, a short film starring @ScuderiaFerrari's @Charles_Leclerc in Monaco, will premiere on 13 June…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]