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The Colin Firth character, Jamie, meets Aurelia the Portuguese housekeeper when he is writing his novel by himself at a lake house in France. You know they're in France because the French-speaking caretaker mentions that Aurelia speaks neither English, Jamie's language, nor French - assumed to be the native language of where they are. So, France. I believe the road signs we see during the scenes when Jamie is driving Aurelia home are in French, so they corroborate this.

At the end of the movie, Jamie decides he's going to run off and propose to Aurelia, so he flies to the airport in Marseille on Christmas Eve. There are signs clearly marking the airport as the Marseille airport when he lands and gets in a taxi. But when Jamie arrives at Aurelia's house, he finds her entire Portuguese family living there. As her father leads her to the restaurant where Aurelia works, everyone they meet along the way is (or at least speaks) Portuguese. The proprietor of the restaurant is (or speaks) Portuguese, as is (or does) everyone in the restaurant. It sure seems like he's ended up in her native Portugal, but all other signs have so far pointed to France. So, where are they?

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Maybe there is a Portuguese neighborhood in Marseille that I just don't know about. –  abby hairboat Dec 23 '11 at 3:34
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My wife and I noticed this too this week and wondered exactly the same thing. He definitely flies to Marseilles and yet the people they pass in the street en route from Aurelia's house to the bar are definitely speaking Portuguese. We ended up deciding that either a) there must be a Portuguese community in Marseilles or b) Richard Curtis isn't overly concerned with social realism. ;) –  Mark Dec 24 '11 at 0:40

7 Answers 7

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's Bar de la Marine in Marseille.

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It sure is. Thanks! –  abby hairboat Aug 8 '13 at 21:13

It's been awhile since I saw the film, so I might be wrong, but I'm assuming they're in France. The main reason I'm guessing this is because Jamie doesn't have Aurelia's address - all he knows is where she used to work for him, in the house in France.

As for her and most of the people he encounters speaking only Portuegse, it is possible that A) some of the people (at least in the restaurant) do speak French, but seeing as how they're at a Portugese restaurant, they would revert to their native language; and B) it's also possible that some of these people (such as Aurelia) genuinely don't speak French, but manage to get by with the help of their community. I live in Holland, and although I learned and can speak fluent Dutch, I keep hearing how many people speak only English (granted, Holland has a lot more English speakers than France does, but still).

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I am sure that Barry got it right.

I check out the movie last night and the airport that he landed at was the Marseille Provence airport. This is located in the South East corner of France. It would not be a very convenient drive in the taxi to go all the way to Portugal from that location.

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I agree - why fly to Marseille just to drive all the way to Portugal? He would just fly to Portugal. Problem solved! –  abby hairboat Jan 19 '12 at 20:15

Jamie tracks Aurelia down in an area that is probably inside of (or near) Marseille. There are a lot of Portuguese-heritage folks in that area of France, partly due to immigration by Portuguese sailors. According to a Wikipedia entry on the demographics of France, "As at January 2006, INSEE estimates that the number of foreigners living in metropolitan France amounted to 3.5 million people. Two out of five foreigners are from Portugal, Algeria or Morocco. It is interesting to note that immigrants are concentrated in the Île-de-France, Rhone-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (Marseille) regions, accounting for 60% of the total immigrant population.

The article estimates that there are more than a 1/2 million Portuguese immigrants in France.

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It is all very confusing and in debating this with my students in my Film Studies class, we are left confused. It seems that Jamie visits a Portuguese community in France.

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Although the restaurant where it was filmed may actually be in Portugal, there is no practical way the guy would drive from Marseilles to anywhere in Portugal. Not logical. There are many expats of Portuguese decent living in France; there are many enclaves. That is what was intended in the film. Although ... it is certainly not clear in the movie. They mostly work in construction, or in the service industries, as did Aurelia. Their numbers are substantial enough that they have their own neighborhoods and restaurants.

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There are over 1-million people of direct Portuguese ancestry in France. In many places, they've formed their own enclaves. They mostly arrived in the 60s and 70s to escape the Salazar dictatorship, before the carnation revolution of 73<?> Some returned, but most remained. –  Joe Dec 1 '13 at 19:21

I know that restaurant, it's located in Porto, Portugal, I know he arrives to Marseille Airport but I was in that same restaurant some years ago, I'm trying to remember the name of it, and I'm definitely looking for it in google maps, it's located in the riviera, (next to do Ouro river)

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protected by coleopterist Dec 2 '13 at 6:56

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