James Bond is an international man of mystery. Oh no wait, that’s Austin Powers. Well the point still stands that 007 has visited an awful lot of countries and cities during his assignments the past 60 years. Which means for fans of the series there is no shortage of exotic filming locations across the world to follow in his footsteps.
I mean just take a look at this map for goodness sake.
I never used to travel abroad when I was younger - the first time I left the UK was aged 14 in 2006 on a school trip to Ypres to learn about the First World War. And my first ever flight was only in 2016 on a measly short haul flight to Dublin. (Though to be fair I quickly made amends for that and flew eight hours all the way to Toronto for the next one.) It’s only really been in the last ten years or so that I’ve finally been in a position to travel more and experience different cultures, cuisines and langua- nah who cares about that, the important bit is I’ve got to see some James Bond filming locations!
And now having built up a few, I thought it’d be neat to make a blog post going over them and show some photos alongside their film counterparts. Don’t get me wrong there’s not a ton but hey, I’ll get to the likes of the Bahamas and Japan at some point perhaps…
London!? Wasn’t I just talking about going abroad to find these filming locations? Well that’s true, but Bond being a British Secret Service agent means a lot of film scenes were set in the capital. That being said, I’ve actually only got one for London and I think it’s the first time I ever purposely tried to find a filming location back in 2016.
It’s the door from Die Another Day Bond enters to go find M in the abandoned underground station. As I tweeted back then, it’s a pretty lame one as far as locations go. …Ok maybe that’s unfair, I guess for me London just doesn’t have that novelty of being where they filmed James Bond because there’s just so many places you can find. Having said that, the idea of setting aside a whole day in London specifically to go around and track down as many locations as I can find does sound rather delicious.
In all honesty I’m not the biggest fan of Paris but when I visited back in 2021 there was one particular scene I wanted to recreate at the Eiffel Tower. I’d actually visited back in 2015 which I rambled about in this Minecraft JFS episode, but during that trip I didn’t actually go up it. Sacré bleu indeed!
A small chunk of A View to a Kill is set in Paris as Bond begins to investigate Max Zorin. A dinner with an informant escalates to a shootout on the Eiffel Tower followed by a car chase through the streets below. I’ve always had a soft spot for A View to a Kill despite its flaws, and in my recent podcast ranking it came in at a whopping seventh place. I did not want to waste my second chance so up the tower we went, ensuring to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Finally I could vaguely resemble Roger Moore on the stairway as he fires up at the escaping May Day.
It’s not perfect by any means - it’s not even the right set of stairs looking at the background but I like to think I captured the spirit of Sir Rog.
The other location was not a purposeful find, more that it was hard to miss walking along the Seine. The Pont Alexandre III bridge is where Bond parks his half of a car to jump onto the passing riverboat where May Day landed. As you can see I tried the same stunt myself but let’s just say it didn’t end well…
Last year I went on a cruise across the Mediterranean because I’m actually a 60 year old man at heart. We flew to Corfu where the cruise began but I knew we’d have a few hours to visit the nearby Old Town before the ship up-anchored. And thank goodness for that because, having not long previously ranked For Your Eyes Only as my fourth favourite Bond film, I knew parts of it were filmed precisely there.
There are a number of scenes set on the island (including the Citroën 2CV chase where there now resides a 007 cafe) but short on time, my main focus was at the Old Fortress where Bond chases after the assassin Emile Leopold Locque. It’s the older of the two fortresses in the Old Town, the other aptly named New Fortress.
As Locque is swerving around corners and snaking through tunnels, we see Bond emerge from the side of one and firing a few pot shots at the car. Sadly some 42 years later and 007 has been replaced by a lone piece of metal railing.
And here’s Locque continuing his escape up through to another tunnel.
Aside from the unusually gritty car kick Bond delivers to finally kill Locuqe, my favourite part of this chase as Locque drives away are the cuts back to poor ol’ Roger Moore who is struggling on foot up a particularly long set of stairs. The rev of the car engine interspersed with nothing but the quiet pitter-patter of Bond’s footsteps is just great. It was my number one priority to find those stairs and run up them. Well, for the most part anyway…
It took about three attempts at this before we nailed the angle and got it lined up pretty closely. Three takes of going up and down up those stairs…in hot weather…in a jumper. Not my brightest idea. An American couple spotted me doing this and must have thought I just liked being recorded running up steps. At one point during filming they cheered me on which was nice, though it did ruin the shot. Tourists, eh?
There were most certainly a few other locations we walked around that I didn’t take photos of since the fortress isn’t huge. At least the parts accessible to the public anyway, there’s a whole side closed off which sadly is where the actual car kicking was filmed. As cool as it would have been to sneak through and find it I didn’t fancy getting caught or, knowing me, falling off the cliff myself. I guess I just don’t have a head for heights.
Last but by no means, we end up in Venice which I recently came back from after a short four day trip. Venice has been a location I’ve wanted to visit for years and years, I mean who doesn’t want to see the famous canals up close? Turns out not many, as the city is getting inundated with millions of tourists each year who are contributing to damage of the city. Give it a hundred years or so and there may be no Venice to go visit, so get those holidays booked sooner rather than later!
We visited towards the end of January which ended up being a brilliant time to go - the weather was on the chillier but still bearable side and sunny everyday. Better yet, compared to some of the vlogs on YouTube featuring hordes of tourists crammed together, at times it felt like we had the city to ourselves. Oh wait I’m meant to be talking about James Bond aren’t I?
Venice is an excellent place for Bond locations because it features in not one, not two but three films. I’ll get the least interesting one out of the way first because I don’t think Bond was actually there. From Russia with Love ends with Bond and Tatiana relaxing in a Venetian hotel, only to be attacked by a rather kicky Rosa Klebb. After Tatiana shoots her, the two head off for a smooch in a gondola underneath what’s referred to as the Bridge of Sighs, connected to the Doge’s Palace in Saint Mark’s Square.
It’s a hard location to miss given it sits right next to one of the most visited spots in Venice, though for some reason I only chose to take a photo of it at night. (If you end up looking around the Doge’s Palace you can actually walk across it into the neighbouring prison cells.) In the film this scene is of course all rear projected so it’s certainly not the best example of a location but I felt obliged to include it.
Next up is Moonraker - an entry I ranked as my sixth favourite because despite its general weirdness and erraticism still manages to win me over with its odd charm. Roger Moore helps of course too. A decent twenty minutes of Moonraker is set in Venice and with that comes a ton of spots I had in mind to see for myself.
I’ll keep this ordered chronologically through the film, but given I was dragging my other half around I didn’t want to sacrifice a huge amount of time hunting locations. So there’s a few I sadly missed or just didn’t think to take a photo of at the same angle, perhaps because it just felt a bit too obvious. For example Bond entering Saint Mark’s Square.
But rest assured Venice has changed very little architectually over the past 45 years - this opposite view of the spot from the terrace of Saint Mark’s Basilica demonstrates that.
Bond is on the hunt for Venini Glass and though I forgot to take a photo, this image from Google Maps shows it’s a real shop that is still there today just next to the basilica!
Inside, he spots Dr. Goodhead snooping around and follows her through to a courtyard which is actually located at the Conservatory of Music Benedetto Marcello near to the Ponte dell’Accademia. Here Bond exits out of a doorway and you can see how the statue lines up in the background.
This area was actually closed off but we were able to get up close to the railings to take a look. I love that the gate is open on the left-hand side just like in the film where Dr. Goodhead walks through. Bond also comes back here later on at night to sneak in and investigate.
The cool thing about this location is that the exact spot was used 27 years later in Casino Royale which I’ll mention about a bit later on.
Bond eventually follows her out to the canals where he has the chance to lay on his charm albeit to a rather frosty Dr. Goodhead. This location was in the Cannaregio district, right outside the La Grande Impresa. As you can see, even at twenty years my senior I think Sir Rog still has me beat in the looks department.
Not content with acting as Bond, I also did my part as Dr. Goodhead and walked over the bridge she leaves on.
Nearby there’s a small inset where Bond’s doomed gondolier Franco is waiting for him. I waited for my own Bondola to arrive but sadly it never did.
That being said, the next day we actually did take a ride on a gondola and it just so happened to take a route straight past this same spot. So I’d like to think in some ways I took the same trip as Bond did through the canals of Venice.
As Bond enjoys his serene gondola ride, he’s ambushed in the most ludicrous of ways by a funeral boat, where an assassin pops out of a knife-laden coffin like Dracula and takes out poor Franco. This spot was along the Rio De Santa Margherita, where 007 then quickly opens a hidden control panel and converts it into a speedboat.
Unfortunately I missed my chance to find the canal where the pursuing henchmen crash through the gondola carrying the kissing couple, but the boatyard they pass by just before was a common sight for us as we travelled from our hotel into the city centre.
Then it’s back onto Saint Mark’s Square for the infamous scene where the Bondola converts into a hovercraft and skims across the piazza. As the crowds look on in shock, we see all sorts of cartoonish skits play out including a distracted waiter pouring beer over a customer. You can make out the name of the cafe in the background, Lavena, which is still there today.
I tried to get an interview with the acclaimed Oscar-winning double-taking pigeon who arguably stole this scene but, as you can see below, he declined to comment.
After Bond’s late night investigation of a secret laboratory, he ends up in a fight with Drax’s henchman Chang. They smash their way through the Venini glass shop and up to a clocktower where 007 eventually chucks him through a stained glass clock face, down onto an orchestra below. This is of course the famous Saint Mark’s Clocktower which is a beautiful building to look at. Unfortunately the clock face isn’t actually made of glass so this wasn’t very realistic, but having just seen a gondola turn into a hovercraft maybe I shouldn’t complain.
There’s one location I completely forgot to visit, despite the fact I’d researched ahead of time exactly where it is and included it on our rough itinerary plan. After Bond’s embarrassing failure to show M and Sir Fredrick Gray Drax’s secret laboratory, he has a small, rather sweet little scene alone with M. Moonraker was Bernard Lee’s final appearance as M and I’d have loved to see the spot where he shows his faith in Bond and coyly gives him some ‘time off’ in Rio to keep investigating. Oh well, all the more reason to go back for another visit!
Last up is Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond back in 2006. The final twenty minutes of the film is set mainly in Venice, after Bond resigns from MI6 and travels together with Vesper where she ultimately betrays him. Y’know, that bit that a lot of people forget about or feel like it’s a bit tacked on and weirdly paced. Personally I like the ending scenes set in Venice but I do admit it does feel a bit superfluous at times, two hours into the film already.
Anyway once Bond realises that Vesper has stolen the poker winnings, he searches across a chaotic St. Mark’s Square and just about catches a glimpse of her red dress through the crowds.
I was particularly interested in one specific shot when Bond tails Vesper down a small, dark passageway where she dramatically stops to check behind her. The camera then pans across to Bond hiding in the shadows cocking his gun. Helpfully the film clearly shows the name of this location, which is Sotoportego de le Colonne in the San Marco district.
And yes, of course I couldn’t help but recreate the scene myself. Sadly I didn’t have a briefcase full of money, only a small paper bag full of souvenirs. Plus it smelled pretty sewage-y in there let me tell you. Nevertheless being the professional that I am, I took it all in my stride. Move out of the way Eva Green, I think I nailed this.
Vesper eventually ends up meeting her contacts to hand over the money and would you look at that, it’s the courtyard from Moonraker once again! Better yet, Bond is almost in the exact same spot taking cover behind a column.
At one point during the trip we took a vaporetto (water bus) along the Grand Canal and I hoped to spot the building that ends up collapsing and sinking underwater. Turns out that when they were doing the CGI for those shots, they completely replaced the facade of the building. It didn’t help that I was looking on the wrong side of the canal too. Later on when we were on a rooftop terrace admiring the views, I used the buildings either side of it to work out where it would have been which you can just sort of make out in the photo below where the arrow is pointing.
And there we have it, that’s about everything! The most recent trip to Venice was just fantastic and finding those locations played a big part in that. Does that make me a complete Bond saddo? Most likely! But that certainly won’t stop me looking for more in the future. I love the thought of watching these films back and being able to say I’ve stood in that very spot - I doubt the novelty of that will ever wear off. Where next? Well, I’ve always had a hankering to go to Rio…