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The perfect pairing: five feel-good French films - and the desserts to eat as you watch them

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A great Netflix binge is all well and good, but we're starting to feel there's a little je ne sais quoi missing from our viewing experiences.

Step forward, French cinema and its charming back catalogue. In recent years, France has produced some of the best love stories, romantic comedies and uplifting tales that cinema has to offer; from Heartbreaker to Amélie, these are the movies that make our hearts swell and stay with us for years.

Of course, France is also known for producing some of the best desserts.

So, why not combine the two for the ultimate binge-watching experience? 

Below, we pair our favourite feel-good French films with the ideal sweet treats to eat as you watch. 


Watch: Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker

This is definitely our favourite French film of recent years. 

Romain Duris plays Alex, an undercover agent of sorts who's hired specifically to break up relationships. On this occasion, he's been employed by the father of Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) – a particularly savvy target. And there's an extra hurdle – he only has a week before she's due to marry an English millionaire.

Eat: Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest (image: supergoldenbakes.com)

A film featuring a race against time deserves a fitting dessert, so it's appropriate that the Paris-Brest was created in 1910 to commemorate a famous bike race. The decadent, luxurious dessert combines choux pastry with praline-flavoured cream, and it's topped with icing sugar and flaked almonds. It's not an easy dessert to make, but it's definitely worth the effort – as long as you finish making it before the film starts.

Get the recipe: supergoldenbakes.com


Watch: Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous sees a shy but gifted chocolate-maker (Isabelle Carré) who suffers from social anxiety take a job working for equally-awkward chocolatier Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde). The business is in trouble, so Angelique develops a new line of chocolates to help save the company. Along the way, the pair realise they have feelings for one another – but they must both overcome their personal challenges in approaching romantic situations before they can get together.

Eat: Kouign amann

Chocolate kouign amann

Kouign amann (image: thekitchykitchen.com)

Kouign amann are a traditional French pastry with the flaky, buttery texture of a croissant and the added bonus of caramelised sugar. The perfect pastry will have crisp burnt sugar on the outside, while remaining light and soft in the middle. They can be bought or made in lots of different flavours, but since Romantics Anonymous is about chocolatiers, this DIY chocolate version seems like the ultimate accompaniment.

Get the recipe: thekitchykitchen.com


Watch: Paris je t'aime

Paris je t'aime

Paris je t'aime

Paris je t'aime gives 20 filmmakers the chance to tell a story in five minutes. Some of the tales are happy, while others are heartbreaking or mysterious – but the common themes of Paris and love are felt in every one, and the overall effect is magical. The huge ensemble cast includes Natalie Portman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Juliette Binoche.

Eat: St. Honoré Praliné-Citron

St. Honoré Praliné-Citron

St. Honoré Praliné-Citron (image: engnatalie.com)

If you're up for a challenge, look no further than St. Honoré. The baking and construction process of this profiterole-puff pastry hybrid contains almost as many steps as Paris je t'aime does stories, but it can't be beaten on taste and presentation. The traditional version combines puff pastry, choux pastry, crisp caramel, praline and chantilly creams, and this show-stopping citrus version adds marmalade and candied lemon peel into the mix.

Get the recipe: engnatalie.com


Watch: The Intouchables

The Intouchables

The Intouchables

In the truly heartwarming filmThe Intouchables, Philippe (François Cluzet) is a wealthy quadriplegic living in a mansion in Paris who requires a carer. Through a sequence of events he ends up hiring Driss (Omar Sy), a young offender who was the most unlikely applicant for the job. As the pair get to know each other, both Driss and Phillipe's lives are changed for the better.

Eat: Madeleines

Madeleines

Madeleines (image: coukine.blogspot.co.uk)

Madeleines are firm favourites in France thanks to their light, fluffy texture and the fact that they're so easy to make. The bite-size cakes are baked in a special tray with ridged moulds, giving the finished cakes a distinctive shell-like appearance. They're best eaten while they're still fresh out of the oven, preferably while you're enjoying an equally uplifting film – like The Intouchables, for example.

Get the recipe: coukine.blogspot.co.uk


Watch: Amélie

Amélie

Amélie

No list of feel-good French films would be complete without Amélie, the 2001 romantic comedy that charmed a generation. The film follows the heroine of the film's title (played by Audrey Tatou), a shy waitress in a Montmartre café who decides to set out on a mission to make others happy.

Eat: Plum clafoutis

Plum Clafouti

Plum Clafouti (image: pastryaffair.com)

Towards the end of the film, Amélie attempts to bake her ‘famous plum cake’ (before realising, sadly, that she's out of yeast). In honour of this scene, we suggest you pair the movie with a serving of plum clafoutis – a delicious French dessert traditionally made with cherries, but in this case topped with sliced plums sauteed in sugar and butter. It's finished with a pouring of cream and eggs, a mixture which sets into a thick custard during baking.

Get the recipe: pastryaffair.com


Additional images: Rex Features

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