Bertani’s Staircase: Mystery Solved

robie on restaurant verandaThe only To Catch A Thief location that has given me fits is the staircase leading down to Bertani’s restaurant.  I had reached the frustrating conclusion that it was destroyed forever when the port was renovated in the 1970’s.

Well, not so fast.

Grant and Hitchcok below “Bertani’s Steps” in Monaco.

Enter Luca, a devoted Le Stuff reader from Turin, Italy.

Luca and I had exchanged a few Emails regarding TCAT’s picnic site (which he correctly located) when he told me that he had also found Bertani’s steps.

I was skeptical.

I soon learned, though, never to underestimate a man on a mission.

Luca had indeed located the steps and the process by which he discovered them is a veritable lesson in tenacity.

How did he do it?

First, he studied the scene in which Cary Grant (aka John Robie) gets off the bus in Monaco (pictured below) before descending the steps down to the restaurant.  I had always focused on the balustrade, hoping it might be the visual clue that would lead to the actual location.  Luca honed in on a house with three windows on the left side of the screen, seen here at 0:30. 

He then began scouring the Internet in search of the house: a photograph, film, anything that might provide a clue. 

He found what he was looking for while watching the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix on Youtube. 

There it was, the house with three windows, in plain view at the end of a sharp curve on the Route de la Piscine (see it here at 12:40).

Buoyed by the discovery, Luca continued his quest, eventually coming up with his piece de resistance, the stairs themselves.

To Catch A Thief was filmed in 1954, only three years before the 57 Grand Prix. The port was not renovated until the 1970’s, so the double staircase seen here (bottom right of the screen) is, indeed, the actual location used by Hitchcock in 1954.

Here, built on roughly the same spot as the original at 1 Route de la Piscine, is the new staircase today.

Mystery solved.

Thank you Luca.

p.s. The mystery of Bertani’s Restaurant remains unsolved.  Was there an actual restaurant at the foot of the steps?


29 responses

  1. Good work! Been trying to solve the riddle myself! However, the mystery about Bertani’s still remains (…that wonderfully charming place!)

    • Thank you Frantz. I may have to turn Le Stuff completely over to Luca! Just received an Email from him promising new information on Bertani’s restaurant. I’ll post asap.

  2. Great! At last! Looks like some kind of restaurant now beside the stairs in the google photos.

    • Thanks so much for the comment David. Luca apparently has new info on Bertani’s restaurant. Will post soon, I hope. Thinking about just handing him the keys to Le Stuff!

  3. Hello. A big thank you for all this wonderful information. This film has such a hold on me and this site stokes the fire.
    Are there no historical documents or town records that would prove or disprove the existence of a restaurant there? If there was it must have paid taxes and rates etc?

    • Excellent point Hugo. That’s on my “to do” list in the (hopefully) near future. I’m not sure if there would be anything online but I’ll check. If not I’ll have to wait until my next visit to Monaco. Thanks for the great comment.

      • Thanks. Look forward to that. Probably not on line. Will take some old fashioned leg work!

      • Hello. Watching the restaurant scene last night there almost certainly was not a restaurant there. The film cuts from Grant walking past the tables straight to a front view of the restaurant building (as Marco says above) which is clearly a film set. And Hitchcock was always more comfortable in the studio than on location.

      • Thanks for your comment Hugo. With no concrete evidence to the contrary I have to agree with you (I wrote about it in a previous post here). Thanks for reading Le Stuff!

  4. Thanks a lot for the info! Indeed one more mystery seems to be solved. I will be very curious if there was really a restaurant. I doubt it to be true – since we never see a full view of the restaurant’s entrance from the outdoor terrasse. But – we will see! Would be an awesome surprise if a restaurant really existed there – I would sure go there for dining some time :-)

    • Wow that has to be the exact place where Robie walks down to the restaurant. Everything lines up perfectly it seems to me. Thanks so much Goran!

      • I did some research on these stairs Goran posted and found out they were located more on the center od the port, where the Nautical stadium is now. So definitely not the right stairs.

    • Thanks so much Rudi! I always love getting great pics and feedback! I think at this point we can reasonably assume that Bertani’s restaurant was created for the movie…

      • Thank you LeStuff, it is a pleasure! :)

        I did some further research in past few days and found a new interesting photo. This one is from 1960 and you can see a building (buttom left corner) right at the foot of the steps which looks like it could be a restaurant. Exactly the same location as in the movie. Also I noticed that this building already existed in 1956 when I was watching the old short video of Grace Kelly arriving to Monaco.

        Here’s the photo.

        Now, if I could only somehow find out what this building was and when it was built :)

    • Thank you for this picture, Rudi. And all the others who have contributed to solve this puzzle. Sadly, many of the linked YouTube videos and some other photos have since disappeared.

      As I spent some wonderful times at the French Riviera when I was young I also wondered where this Restaurant was supposed to be located exactly when I enjoyed the beautiful scenery in ‘To Catch a Thief’.

      My tip for LeStuff, if I may, would be to save as much material as possible on site (with the owners consent) rather than depending on links to other sites and/or accounts that may be deleted. This site has already proven to be a great source of information for many people over the years, and it probably will remain as such if you keep it up – which would be wonderful idea, imo.

  5. Wow, everybody…Great efforts and incredible pictures!! I love the way this movie still keeps us all mesmerized and searching! And what a pity that Bertani’s is only a figment of Hitch’s imagination (not to complain, of course!). Look forward to more pictures from the vaults!

  6. Another great picture I found after some more digging all over the internet. When I saw it, my first tought was “Bingo, I found the restaurant!” :)
    Same location as in the movie, taken in 1960. There are still those old stairs where Cary Grant was walking down,

    So that building I found on the older photos actually was a bar/restaurant. Well, still is. It’s called “La rascasse” which still stand today. Also I found out from the old photos that it was renovated in the sixties.
    Currently I’m trying to find out if it was also called “La rascasse” back then, or it was a diffrent name.

      • Thank you! I hope to find some more interesting photos.

        You know, watching those old photos of Manaco, it changed quite a bit over the years. I understand, there’s maintenance and new people are moving in so more space is needed, but I hope they’ll stick to the old traditional architectural style. It has some sort of charm which this plain modern doesen’t.

        Oh, and English is my second language, so I hope I didn’t make too many mistakes writing this. :)

  7. I found a video on youtube called “Monaco Grand Prix 1962 – High Quality footage – Flying Clipper”

    Great quality, it feels like it was filmed yesterday and not 57 years ago. So nice to see the old Monaco in such good quality.

    If you jump to 1:40 you can see a nice view on the restaurant (Bertani’s in the movie). That is 8 years after shooting of the movie. And I know that that restaurant already existed there in 1956 when Grace Kelly had a wedding. I saw it on one of the photos when she arrived to Monaco. Now, I just wish I could find some info about when was that restaurant built. Or if I could find some pictures from 1954 of that area when they were shooting the movie.

  8. The following is from my 3/2/18 reference to ‘Rudi’s’ entry of 2016/10/28 at 4:47 PM “As the port was built out 50-70 yards from its previous boundaries, that would, & does still, place **La Rascasse (which is now closed) behind both the original & new staircase.** Bertani’s restaurant was a set at Paramount. There were a number of small additions made to the platform structure at base of steps, as well as minor changes in the steps themselves, over the preceding decades which creates a lot of confusion when tracking down the old photos. You have to start at the turn of the century & work forward. Unfortunately, I cannot locate the vintage photos I used to confirm the above.

  9. Well, I think the mystery is finally solved! There actually was a restaurant and it was “La Rascasse”.

    I found this wonderfull video on youtube where an older man who was actually there in those times explains this. It’s in french but you can turn on the subtitles and use english translation.

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