Franklin: All Shooting Locations of the Apple TV+ Show

‘Franklin’ is a historical drama that chronicles the years Benjamin Franklin spent in France, engaging in a masterful game of diplomacy. His mission was to convince the French ruling elite to assist the nascent United States of America in her war of independence against the British Empire. 70-year-old Benjamin Franklin is sent to France as the American War of Independence begins. Facing an all-powerful Great Britain, the United Colonies need every weapon, ship, and able-bodied man that France is willing to lend to the war effort. However, the French aristocracy, while not on good terms with the British, is uninclined to expend any resources on Franklin’s appeals.

Accompanied by his grandson, the distinguished veteran bides his time, charming his way into the social circles of the French elite while outwitting British spies and informants. The Apple TV+ show is an adaptation of ‘A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America’ by Stacy Schiff and invests monumental effort in recreating 1770s France. Its episodes treat us to visuals of gilded palaces, grand squares, opulent theatres, and expansive estates. Such authentic recreations of the era serve to immerse the narrative in history and pull us back in time to the moments that changed the world.

Franklin Filming Locations

‘Franklin’ is largely shot on location around Paris, France, in some of the real sites that Benjamin Franklin had historically visited. Principle photography began in June 2022 and was wrapped up for the first season in seven months by mid-December of the same year. During the first month of shooting, lead actor Michael Douglas had a medical complication and had to undergo gallbladder removal surgery. He was back on set after just four days and pondered putting a hold on filming due to the discomfort. Yet he pulled through, toughing it out and shooting for the entire duration.

Paris Metropolitan Area, France

The capital city of France and its surrounding suburbs are the primary filming locations for ‘Franklin.’ Most of the shooting for the series is carried out around the historical locations in the commune of Versailles, southwest of Paris. The grand locations seen in exterior shots throughout the show are largely captured in and around the vast Palace of Versailles at Place d’Armes. A monument to the history of France, the Palace of Versailles was the residence of the monarchy since the rule of Louis XIV up until the French Revolution at the time of Louis XVI, after which, it became a museum.

While much of Benjamin Franklin’s time was historically spent in Versailles, socializing with the elite, he also set up a laboratory in Chateau de la Muette. Situated at 2 Rue André Pascal, the Chateau de la Muette was historically a hunting lodge and had transformed into a chateau, or country house, by the time Franklin stepped foot on French soil. The Chateau was the starting point of the first manned flight in history, made in a hot air balloon by the Montgolfier brothers. The flight took off in 1783, and Franklin was present at the scene, alongside the royal family.

Filming for ‘Franklin’ was also carried out around the iconic city of Paris, and Michael Douglas took to social media to share his dressing room in a boathouse floating along the Seine River. After having undergone surgery, the veteran actor started saving time and energy on shoots by skipping the two-and-a-half-hour makeup process and bringing out his own raw version of Benjamin Franklin.

One of the main benefits of filming in Paris, especially for historical and period movies, is the abundance of well-preserved historical sites accessible around the city. Filmmakers can easily transport audiences back in time with the city’s architectural treasures, such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Champs-Élysées. Additionally, Paris boasts a wealth of experienced film crews, talented artisans, and production facilities, making it a convenient and efficient choice for filmmakers.

The city’s robust infrastructure supports all stages of production, from scouting locations to post-production editing. Moreover, Paris’ status as a cultural hub offers access to a rich pool of actors, costume designers, and historical consultants who can lend their assistance in accurately depicting the intended time period.

Paris’ identity as a location for filmmakers to base their productions has developed after the COVID-19 pandemic, when the administration made some major changes for movie productions. Earlier, film crews would arrive in the city for postcard shoots around monuments, and recreate the French landscape somewhere else. The change has largely been fueled by an extension of generous tax credits by the local administration.

“[The industry has undergone] rapid acceleration and exponential growth,” said France’s National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC) digital director Vincent Florant. “Nowadays, we host the totality of these massive shoots, whereas before we only received a part, or even, in the most extreme cases, just a few days of postcard shooting at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.”

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