Imagine being able to tour some of the most beautiful villages, small towns, and regions in France from the comfort of your home—on your own timeline. No passport or green pass required.
Murder In…, an inventive, creatively curated French TV series, allows travel lovers to immerse themselves in the intimate lives of the locals who live and work at destinations they may have already visited or at places to which they would like to go.
Filmed across almost all of France’s 18 regions, some episodes are set in towns so tiny you have likely never heard of them. Others are better-known places but still off the beaten tourist track, and away from large cities. To get to these gems, you would have to drive there from someplace else.
How to watch Murder In...
MHz Choice, a streaming service for foreign and international content, is now streaming seven seasons of this program, which includes more than 60 episodes (and counting). Season 8 of Murder In… is set to premiere on November 23, 2021.
The hugely popular series initially aired on French television (France 3) in 2013 and is still ongoing. Each 90-minute episode, the length of a feature movie, is self-contained so viewers don’t necessarily have to watch them in a particular order.
Janice Chung of Toronto, a travel blogger and admitted Francophile, has been to France 34 times. The last time was in March 2020, just before the pandemic hit. She’s already binged on 16 episodes of Murder In…
Her viewing strategy: “I first pick the places I have been to (e.g., Murder in Sarlat, Murder in Collioure, Murder in Aigues-Mortes, and then places I’d like to visit in the future,” she says. Others opt to watch the shows chronologically.
Each engaging episode is centered around a complicated murder mystery, involving two detectives or investigators who are called on-scene to help solve it. These whodunnits are complex with a minimum of blood and guts, leaving viewers wondering about the identity of the murderer(s) until the elusive details emerge at the very end.
“Basically you get a new murder in a new place each time,” says Chung.
All the stories are extremely well-acted, featuring strong women in lead roles, who usually wind up getting involved in a romantic dalliance. The supporting cast adds to the sense of place, depicting the lives of ordinary people of all social and economic classes. The characters are so well-developed that you want to learn more about their individual backstories as the mystery unfolds.
Vive Le France: The unifying thread
Somewhat unusual for a series of this type, different writers and directors are credited for each episode, and each one features a different cast of talented actors.
But it is the beauty and allure of France—and its local and regional customs, unique history and legends, dazzling art and architecture, distinct dialects and expressions, and appetizing foods and drink—that brings these disparate stories together to create a cohesive whole.
“Excellent cinematography showcases the landscapes and sometimes historical monuments,” says Chung. For example, one episode takes viewers inside the Pope’s Palace in Avignon, Provence; another inside the Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, Normandy.
Along with the impressive aerial photography throughout the series, viewers will enjoy pinpointing or mapping the precise locations they’re seeing with a smartphone or other device with maps. It is the picturesque and unique backdrops that make the series so visually compelling.
In one episode set in Strasbourg, in the Grand Est region, I was thrilled to recognize a scene that was filmed inside in a hotel (Pavillon Régent Petite France) where I had once stayed and saw the bridge over the canal that I walked along in Colmar. Veteran travelers will discover many such experiences.
More than mystery
“I’m not really a mystery lover,” admits Chung, “But I love interesting stories that take place in France. To me, it’s the setting that matters.”
Since international travel still remains complicated (sometimes more complicated than murder mysteries), travel lovers will be happy to know that this is a series that keeps on giving.
“I was quick enough to buy up all the episodes I could because I knew, from the minute I saw the first one, that it would resonate with our viewers and be a hit,” says Lance Schwulst, Vice-President of Content Strategy at MHz Networks. It has turned out to be the streaming service’s most-watch series.
“It’s a perfect mix of murder mystery, an engaging investigative duo, and iconic Franch locations,” he says. “It’s such a perfect way to show off a country while entertaining potential tourists.” He wonders why no other country has stepped in with their own version of Murder In...
This French series is subtitled in English; great for those who want to brush up on the language before their next trip!
See a complete list of all the locations of Murder In… episodes airing on MHz Choice (available in the U.S. and Canada).