Stories > The truth about the movie Rendez-vous in Paris (1976)

The truth about the movie Rendez-vous in Paris (1976)

Published 2020-01-15 by Zdravko Anticic

In a time long before GoPro cameras, a French movie director made an epic short movie featuring a car speeding through Paris on an early Sunday morning.

The short film was a major hit in the underground movie scene in the late 1970’s and the early 80’s. Chances are that you have seen it.

It is all in one mesmerising take, there is no dialogue and there is no driver in sight. The only person you actually see is the a blonde woman approaching the car in the final moments - hence the name C’était un Rendez-vous.

Translated to English, the title means “It was a date”. According to the producer, Claude Lelouch, the intention was to capture the urgency when a young man rushes to pick up his beautiful date a late night. It is just as much as about sex and desire as it is about driving.

“A guy who is going to meet a girl can take unnecessary risks because he doesn’t want to make her wait.”

The entire movie, from start to end, is in one long shot. There is no cuts, and no special effects. What you see is exactly how that early Sunday morning in Paris was. Including the pigeons, buses and pedestrians. The total of 18 red lights that the car accelerated through were also very real.

Many details about the movie were shrouded in mystery. Few knew how it had been made. There were numerous rumours circulating, one that it was the directors friend and racing driver Jacques Lafitte who was speeding the car through Paris that morning, and that the car driven was a Ferrari 275 GTB. None of this was true.

The truth

The car used for the movie was not a Ferrari. Instead, it was Claude Lelouch’s Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL, with a 6.9 litre V8. The Mercedes had hydropneumatic suspension and was a better choice for the mission, driving on the cobble stone streets of Paris in high speed. The camera was mounted on the front of the car.

The car was driven by Claude Lelouch himself, and not a racing driver. The woman in the end of the movie was his Swedish girlfriend - Gunilla Friden. She had no other instructions but to wait at a designated spot and walk towards the car when Claude arrived.

The Mercedes had a three speed automatic transmisson and sounds nothing like in the movie. The engine noise and tyre squeals are all added in post production. For this purpose, Claudes Ferrari 275 GTB was used.

The route

The route measures 10.597 km long, which indicates an average speed of approximately 80 km/h (50 mph). Far from the claim that the top speed was over 200 km/h in some parts. Looking at the movie you see other traffic. Passing that traffic is not done with ridiculous speed difference.

There were only two people that knew the exact route except Claude. They were placed along the route with walkie talkies in two blind junctions, in order to warn of other traffic. However, the walkie talkies did not work, and Claude assumed that the crossings were clear. It was a miracle that no one was hurt during shooting.

The aftermath

There was, of course, a public outrage of the method of shooting this film. Also, there was ample evidence of multiple serious traffic offences. This became a problem for Claude Lelouch.

One famous incident was when Claude Lelouch was pulled over by a policeman in Paris. The policeman immediately recognised Lelouch and seized his driving license. Moments later, the driving license was returned to the famous movie director.

The policeman later stated that he had orders to take the driving license from Claude. However, since he was a big fan, he returned it after a few minutes. He had still, in theory, complied with the orders from the ministry of justice. The driving license was in fact seized - albeit for just moment.

Claude Lelouch

Claude Lelouch is now 82 years old and lives in Paris. With over 50 major movie productions he is one of the most important French film directors. In 2016 he received the honorary Commander in the Order of the Crown - one of the highest national honours of the Kingdom of Belgium.

In 2009, Lelouch explained: "I made the movie as a gift of this moment of madness. The movie is very symbolic of my life. We did many forbidden things, as I often have in life."

Zdravko Anticic
Zdravko Anticic
zdravko@granturismo.org

Coming Events

Special Event Maranello
29-31 May 2024
Maranello, Italy
Gran Turismo Polonia
24-30 June 2024
Poland
Subscribe to our newsletter

The latest news and stories. All the best roads, hotels and restaurants. Invitations to exciting events. Be the first to know by subscribing to our newsletter.

Mondo Gran Turismo

More news and stories from the world of Gran Turismo

Here is the new Lamborghini logo
Here is the new Lamborghini logo
Automobili Lamborghini just came out with a logo refresh
Spa-Francorchamps to ban senior drivers in 2025
Spa-Francorchamps to ban senior drivers in 2025
Are you 55 years or older? Then you might not be able to drive on Spa-Francorchamps.
Was this Ferrari 288 GTO Enzo's apology to Niki Lauda?
Was this Ferrari 288 GTO Enzo's apology to Niki Lauda?
The secret deal between Lauda & Ferrari
How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia
How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia
20 years ago - Gran Turismo Events was born.
The true cost of owning a Ferrari
The true cost of owning a Ferrari
Objects in the mirror can be closer than they appear
Here are the top 60 pictures from the 2023 season
Here are the top 60 pictures from the 2023 season
Here are our favourite pictures from the 2023 season.
The astonishing stats from the 2023 season
The astonishing stats from the 2023 season
The total kilometres driven on all road trip events came in at 357 670 kilometres.
Here are our new rental cars for 2024
Here are our new rental cars for 2024
Out goes 2023 and in comes the 2024 season, and with it a plethora of new supercars available to rent from us.
Merry Christmas from Gran Turismo - Celebrating 20 years in 2024
Merry Christmas from Gran Turismo - Celebrating 20 years in 2024
The next season marks an anniversary for us, we have now been organising events for over 20 years.
Lotus vs Airplane - Who would win?
Lotus vs Airplane - Who would win?
Back in 2015, we raced a sportscar against an aeroplane on an airstrip in Sweden.
A night in The British Museum
A night in The British Museum
We spent an evening in the most important museum in the world. Here's how it went.
The absolute horror to ride in a Formula One car
The absolute horror to ride in a Formula One car
That time Peter got brutalised by a Formula One car on Yas Marina circuit
50 000 kilometres in 2023 - Here is the fast fleet of Gran Turismo
50 000 kilometres in 2023 - Here is the fast fleet of Gran Turismo
We do as we teach. Over 50 000 kilometres with our fleet of supercars in 2023.
No pulse: How Saab Turbo inspired a medical revolution
No pulse: How Saab Turbo inspired a medical revolution
The human body is fantastic, but it has it's weak points. A team of doctors decided to make it better.
Why we absolutely hate Dolphins
Why we absolutely hate Dolphins
They are some of the meanest and nastiest mammals that have ever existed
Here are the most common reasons for road rage and how to avoid it
Here are the most common reasons for road rage and how to avoid it
Please admit it. There have been times when you have wanted to murder someone next to you in traffic.
Do NOT wear Hawaii shirts at Lamborghini events
Do NOT wear Hawaii shirts at Lamborghini events
How not to dress at an elegant event invited by Lamborghini
Here is why I hate touchscreens
Here is why I hate touchscreens
The trend of big touchscreens in cars is a gigantic problem
The world’s most beautiful roads are in Switzerland
The world’s most beautiful roads are in Switzerland
Here is the holy trinity of Swiss alpine roads.
The legendary Rolls-Royce incident in Sweden in 1986
The legendary Rolls-Royce incident in Sweden in 1986
That time when Rolls-Royce went well out of their way to keep a client happy
Did the Ferrari Museum go too far?
Did the Ferrari Museum go too far?
How the Ferrari Museum coerced Marek to donate his car
Downforce is dark magic
Downforce is dark magic
I lost my downforce virginity recently. Here's how.
A postcard from Rome and The Vatican
A postcard from Rome and The Vatican
On March 23, we did a private tour of the Vatican.
Meet James Holm, our in-house photographer
Meet James Holm, our in-house photographer
Arguably the best automotive photographer in Scandinavia, James has been our event photographer since over a decade.
Houston, we have a massive problem
Houston, we have a massive problem
I love flying. This particular flight though, every pilot's nightmare became my reality.
Porsche is developing a hybrid 911
Porsche is developing a hybrid 911
It will utilize the latest hybrid technologies from the 919 Hybrid
Alfa Romeo is working on a new supercar
Alfa Romeo is working on a new supercar
They are pursuing a new Alfra Romeo tipo 33
Wallypower 118 - the coolest luxury yacht in the world
Wallypower 118 - the coolest luxury yacht in the world
Meet the luxury yacht from the movie "The Island"
Did you know? Rolex was founded in London.
Did you know? Rolex was founded in London.
The story of Rolex goes far beyond luxury watches.
The Ferrari F356 is the best Ferrari you never heard of
The Ferrari F356 is the best Ferrari you never heard of
Over the years, the F356 became one of the most sought-after cars in the world.
Sued by Ferrari because they deserved it
Sued by Ferrari because they deserved it
Guess what? Ferrari will sue you if you use their brand in a malicious way
Mr Bond, you have what the Greeks call thrasos
Mr Bond, you have what the Greeks call thrasos
Why James Bond films are so important.
The bizarre naming convention of Ferrari cars
The bizarre naming convention of Ferrari cars
Have you ever wondered how Ferrari determines the name for their cars?
I have no idea, I just stole the Lotus from a brat at Stureplan
I have no idea, I just stole the Lotus from a brat at Stureplan
The flashing blue light in the rear-view mirror approached at breakneck speed. Then I saw that the police blocked the road.
How to go from zero to owning a Ferrari in just one year
How to go from zero to owning a Ferrari in just one year
Dreaming about a Ferrari? Here is how you can make it happen in just one year.
Why the adorable Fiat 126p is the best car in the world
Why the adorable Fiat 126p is the best car in the world
Forget supercars like Lamborghini and Ferrari. The best car in the world is the Fiat 126p. Bear with us and let us explain.
The best pictures from 2022 - Places 1 to 20
The best pictures from 2022 - Places 1 to 20
As every year, we select the best pictures from the season. Here are places 1 to 20.
Mister Kawasaki and the most expensive chicken wings in the world
Mister Kawasaki and the most expensive chicken wings in the world
When you have unlimited money, amazing things can happen.
Forget the Fiat 500 of the 70s - The Lancia Stratos was really cramped
Forget the Fiat 500 of the 70s - The Lancia Stratos was really cramped
Fifteen years ago, I was the king of SEGA Rally. And the fastest car in the game was the Lancia Stratos.
Here comes the Swedish banker and his disgusting Italian girlfriend
Here comes the Swedish banker and his disgusting Italian girlfriend
Cencio la Parolaccia - The most fun restaurant in Rome.
More stories

La Guida - The Supercar Owner's Guide to Europe

Our favourite roads, hotels, restaurants and places to visit

Solociccia
Solociccia
Arguably the best meat restaurant in Italy - run by the TV chef Dario Cecchini.
Dorint Am Nürburgring Hocheifel
Dorint Am Nürburgring Hocheifel
Dorint is a great hotel at the Nurburgring
Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is one of the seaside jewels of the Adriatic.
More locations

Events Calendar

Beautiful road trips and famous racing tracks since 2002. Supercars only.

Gran Turismo St Moritz
8-11 February 2024
St Moritz, Switzerland
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Adriatica
4-12 May 2024
Croatia - Bosnia - Montenegro - Slovenia
Fully booked
Special Event Maranello
29-31 May 2024
Maranello, Italy
Gran Turismo Nurburgring
3-6 June 2024
Nurburgring, Germany
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Riviera
9-14 June 2024
Forte dei Marmi - Santa Margherita - Monaco - St Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Polonia
24-30 June 2024
Poland
Gran Turismo Dolomiti
29 August - 2 September 2024
Treviso - Cortina - Bolzano - Garda Lake
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Europa
8-15 September 2024
St Moritz - Andermatt - Lugano - Monaco - Saint Tropez
Fully booked
Gran Turismo Italia
22-28 September 2024
Bologna - Florence - Portofino - Barolo - Iseo - Como - Garda
Gran Turismo Toscana
9-13 October 2024
Florence - Chianti - Lucca - Florence
The Drivers Collection
Contact us

While our head offices are in Geneva, Switzerland, the team is spread throughout Europe: Sweden, Poland, Italy and Croatia. Please select the appropriate team member to contact below.

For general enquiries, you can always use info@granturismo.org. For event registrations, please use registry@granturismo.org.

Justyna Weclawiak Justyna Weclawiak
Head of Event Organisation
+48 509 706 651
Björn Lagercrantz Björn Lagercrantz
Head of Finance
+46 (0)70 844 64 00
Michal Weclawiak Michal Weclawiak
Event Coordinator
+48 602 134 467
Zdravko Anticic Zdravko Anticic
Head of Content Creation
+385 (0)91 917 32 77
Pietro Bonuccelli Pietro Bonuccelli
Supercar Fleet Manager
+39 349 888 33 89
Marcin Jellinek Marcin Jellinek
Head of Special Events
+48 519 189 081
Nicolas Grandi Nicolas Grandi
Official Photographer
+39 347 917 42 70
Peter Ternstrom Peter Ternström
Founder and President
+39 331 332 50 80