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Travel Destinations for Movie Buffs

Love the movies and love to travel? Plan your next adventure around these film-themed destinations.

1. New Zealand: Lord of the Rings

All three Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand’s diverse landscape, and director Peter Jackson has returned to the country to work on his next project, The Hobbit (in two parts), the first of which is due in December 2012. Tourism New Zealand offers an online guide to LOTR-related destinations, including Matamata (Hobbiton) and Mt. Ruapehu (Mt. Doom) as well as numerous themed tours, such as a day trip from Christchurch to view Mt. Sunday (Edoras) and the Misty Mountains and play with replicas of Aragorn’s sword and Gimli’s axe.

2. England: Jane Austen

If you’re a fan of movies such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma, you’ll want to stop by some key locations on a trip to England. The National Trust lists a variety of locations from both Hollywood and BBC productions of Jane Austen books, such as Basildon Park in Berkshire, which was used as Mr. Bingley’s house in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. If you’re in Bath, you can download a free mp3 walking tour with city highlights and excerpts from Jane Austen’s novels and letters. Or if you’d prefer to let someone else do the work, Go West tours offers a six-day Jane Austen group tour starting and ending in London and visiting a number of locations including Jane Austen’s birthplace and Chatsworth House, the location for Darcy’s family home in Pride and Prejudice.

3. Tunisia: Star Wars

Before the 2011 revolution, Tunisia in northern Africa wasn’t high on the average Canadian’s radar, especially when it came to travel. But did you know that Tunisian sets were featured in five out of the six Star Wars movies? Many sets are still standing and can be visited by tourists-the Tunisian government even has a travel guide for Star Wars fans with tips on hiring a guide and choosing locations. You’ll have to take a 4X4 to visit locations like La Grande Dune (the Dune Sea in Episode IV) and the Isle of Djerba, home to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hut.

4. Bali: Eat, Pray, Love

You’ll find Bali a fantastic destination whether or not you’re aiming for self-transformation. The Indonesian island offers gorgeous scenery and beaches, rich culture and activities for every energy level. B.C.-based yoga instructor Eoin Finn, for instance, often offers his Yoga Ecology Surf retreats in Bali (the next is in November 2011), with twice-daily yoga classes, daily philosophy discussions and optional activities including surfing, Ayurvedic consultations and cooking classes.

5. Paris: Amelie

Amélie wasn’t the first instant classic to be set in Paris, but who didn’t want to travel to La Ville-Lumière after viewing the title character’s adventures in the city and her neighbourhood of Montmartre? With just a quick search online you’ll find numerous websites and blog posts devoted to following Amélie’s journey around the city (like this one) to destinations such as the grocery store at no. 56 rue des trois frères, where she buys three hazelnuts and an artichoke. And the website movie-locations.com has a detailed list of shooting locations in Paris. Book an apartment, buy some baguettes and explore the city on your own, in Amélie’s footsteps.

6. Salzburg: The Sound of Music

If The Sound of Music is one of your favourite things, a movie-based tour of this Austrian city may be right up your alley. Sign up with Panorama Tours for their Sound of Music Tour  to see architectural and historical sites of Salzburg (while listening to the soundtrack, naturally) and highlights of the film such as Mirabell Gardens, where Maria and the children sang Do-Re-Mi; and Nonnberg Abbey, where the real baron and Maria were married in 1927 and where the opening scene of the film was set.

7. Iowa: Bridges of Madison County

Fans of Clint Eastwood and romance will love a tour through Madison County, Iowa, home to the six remaining covered bridges (of an original 19) and the setting for the book and film The Bridges of Madison County. Drop by in October for the annual Covered Bridge Festival, which celebrates local arts and crafts (including quilting), antiques, a food and farmer’s market and a parade of antique vehicles.

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