James Bond: Assouline devotes a book to his many peregrinations

With James Bond Destinations, luxury lifestyle publisher Assouline takes a look at the various places, real and fictional, that spy 007 visited in the course of his thrilling cinematic adventures. For many, it’s an opportunity to conjure up youthful memories and a desire to go somewhere else, for which the secret agent in Her Majesty’s service has been more influential than he appears.


When one thinks of James Bond, a number of associations spontaneously spring to mind: Bollinger champagne, Aston Martin sedan, vodka martini, Walther PPK-9 pistol, not to mention a host of other beautiful girls and gadgets.


But the British secret agent is also arguably the world’s most well-stocked passport. In 50 years and 25 on-screen adventures, James Bond has visited no fewer than 111 locations in 50 countries around the globe!


Alongside the hero, the girl and the villain, there’s a fourth protagonist, less discreet than it might seem: the dream destination.


The spy who came from… Jamaica


The fictional character created by Ian Fleming was predestined for long-distance travel. In fact, he was named after an ornithologist whose work Fleming had in the library of his Jamaican home.


Ian Fleming discovered this little corner of paradise on an intelligence mission for the Royal Navy in the midst of the Second World War. Following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, who owned Finca de la Vigia in Cuba, Fleming acquired the residence in 1946.


The colonial-style building in Oracabessa gave its name to the franchise’s first rebirth in 1995, starring Pierce Brosnan after a six-year hiatus: GoldenEye.


Goldeneye Estate, the Jamaican home of James Bond’s father, Ian Fleming


The writer spent every winter until his death in 1964 on this former sugarcane plantation estate.

It was here, in the crystal-clear seas of the Caribbean, that the British spy was born under his pen. A literary saga that began in 1953 with the publication of Casino Royale which gave rise to twelve novels and two collections of short stories.


Unsurprisingly, the first adventure to be brought to the screen in 1962, James Bond vs. Dr. No, took Agent 007 to the beaches of Jamaica, where he met Honey Rider, a shellfish hunter played by Ursula Andress.


Sean Connery with Ursula Andress in James Bond vs. Dr. No, 1962 © EON Production


This mythical, intrepid role, in which the American actress rises like Venus from the foam of the waves, marks a constant in the franchise, the character of the James Bond Girl.


In fact, the film’s most famous scene was shot on Crab Key Beach, a beach adjacent to Ian Fleming’s home. Such was its success that the beach was renamed James Bond Beach. With its success, the location even became a hotel complex: the Goldeneye Hotel and Resort.


Which says a lot about the close relationship between the James Bond franchise and tourism.

A true trendsetter before his time, James Bond will have experienced Jamaica twenty years ahead of his time, the destination having been, along with the Seychelles, one of the most popular in the 1980s.


But if production favored shooting in natural settings, it was essentially for budgetary reasons.

The construction of a Louis XV-style casino gaming room for the film consumed a large part of the £14,500 allocated to sets, out of a total budget of £300,000.


Rather a homebody, the character will start moving around on his next adventure.


The man with the golden visa


Although 007’s first adventure took place exclusively in Jamaica, the very idea of varying destinations from one end of the planet to the other appeared as early as the second film, From Russia with Love (1963), which, contrary to what the title suggests, was essentially set in Turkey.


Of the six actors in the James Bond franchise, not all are as adventurous as the others.

With only one adventure to his name (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969), George Lazenby didn’t really have time to travel the world, but only three countries, settling for a large part of the Swiss Alps for his wedding, then dividing his time between Portugal and the UK.


Roger Moore holds the title of globe trotter, with some thirty journeys, including one that could count double: an escape into space (Moonraker, 1979). The man explored Egypt, Greece (Corfu in For your eyes only, 1981) alongside Carole Bouquet, Brazil and India, notably the Jag Mandir on the shores of Lake Pichola, now Taj Lake Palace, southwest of Udaipur (Octopussy, 1983).


© EON Production


The latest James Bond, Daniel Craig, has visited 24 countries, including the Faroe Islands in Denmark. He’s also the one who’s set foot in the most unlikely destinations, such as Uganda, Madagascar and Haiti.


Sean Connery, the historic actor, is just ahead of Pierce Brosnan, with 23 and 22 countries respectively. A Pierce Brosnan alternating between idle motoring in Monaco, motorcycle rides in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon and an unrestful stay in an Icelandic ice hotel.

Shakespearean actor Timothy Dalton visited 9 countries, including Afghanistan, Mexico (depicted as Republic of Isthmus) and Vienna.


But if not all of them had the same zest for traveling the world, all of them contributed to revealing unusual and little-known places, while giving another dimension to famous monuments and other points of interest (carnival and Sugarloaf cable car in Rio, Eiffel Tower and Himeji castle…).


Sean Connery, in a duel with Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), contributed to the fame of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand. In the year following the film’s release, the spot, renamed James Bond Island, attracted 1.6 million tourists.


Roger Moore back to back with Christopher Lee (alias Scaramanga) in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), shot in Thailand. © Assouline


With Die Another Day (2002), Pierce Brosnan introduced a whole audience of young Americans to Halong Bay, helping to boost tourism in Vietnam. However, for diplomatic reasons, the teams were forced to shoot the film in Thailand, in the same location as The Man with the Golden Gun.

As for Daniel Craig and his ultimate adventure No Time To Die (2021), the mayor of the Italian town of Matera – one of the world’s oldest cities, along with Aleppo in Syria and Jericho in Palestine – estimated the financial spin-off (film crew and tourism) at twelve million pounds sterling.


It’s only a short step from saying that James Bond is the father of the “Jet Setting” trend – choosing his destinations according to the settings seen in films and TV series.


On the other hand, James Bond – despite his disdain for onlookers – has accompanied the development of mass tourism. Such is the case of Villa del Balbianello on Italy’s Lake Como. Seen in the film “Casino Royale” (2006), this mansion built by a cardinal in 1787 on the remains of a former Franciscan convent, was forced this summer to reduce the influx of tourists to protect the building. The number of visitors dropped from 2,000 a day to 1,200.


From Eurasia with love


James Bond’s adventures follow tour operator trends and geopolitical upheavals.


In the same year as the acquisition of the GoldenEye residence, Winston Churchill declared the creation of the Iron Curtain, dividing the world in two, the free world on one side and the USSR on the other. The Cold War begins.

It didn’t take long for Bond’s main missions (until the 1995 film GoldenEye) to consist of thwarting the ill-intentioned plans of a few zealous servants of the Soviet Union.


And yet, although Russia features in the Top 5 of Bond’s recurring destinations, most notably St. Petersburg in GoldenEye, Agent 007 will only set foot there three times, preferring other “No Go Zones” of the era such as North Korea (Die Another Day, 2002), Afghanistan (Living Daylights, 1987) and Azerbaijan (The World is Not Enough, 1999).


Pierce Brosnan doesn’t hesitate to visit North Korea in Die Another Day, 2002. © EON Production


With the exception of Russia, only Turkey, which appears in the second adventure, is among the Soviet destinations at risk in the Top 10, with Istanbul in a prominent position.


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Similarly, the spy literally avoids African territory, venturing only to Egypt and Morocco, and to a lesser extent South Africa and Lebanon. Only Daniel Craig dares to visit Uganda.


Villa Arabesque in Acapulco, Mexico, presented as the Republic of Isthmus in Permis de Tuer, 1989 © EON Production

James Bond also rarely ventures into South America, apart from Mexico, Brazil and above all Cuba (3 trips). Daniel Craig is the first to set foot in Bolivia.


For this British hero of Scottish parentage, the United Kingdom, mainly London, remains the preferred destination (19 “trips”). With 3 trips, the wild lands of his ancestors also feature in the Top 10 of James Bond’s favorite destinations.


But James Bond also reflects the travel desires of Americans, with a preference for… Europe.


James Bond has a soft spot for Austria (4 trips) and Spain (3 trips).

However, his heart’s destination, outside his native land, remains without question… Italy.


James Bond has visited Venice several times, including here in Casino Royale, 2006. © EON Production


He made 8 stopovers there!


From Venice to Matera, via Siena, Rome, Talamanca and Lake Como.


A transalpine passion born of his discovery of the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia in the film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).


The character, British but bought out by American producers, inherited an Uncle Sam worldview with many prejudices about the peoples and cities he visited.

A true American by adoption, James Bond traverses the USA (7 trips), visiting New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. And he takes great care to avoid what the Americans consider “flying over states”, with the exception of New Orleans and its bordering bayou.


In keeping with his American obsession, he made several visits to Japan, beginning with the film You Only Live Twice (1967).



As for mainland China, James preferred Hong Kong, which he visited three times. He only ventured into the China Sea in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a sadly visionary episode given the ongoing tensions between Taiwan and the central power in Beijing.


A fan of natural settings, in addition to the British Pinewood studios, James Bond never set foot in New Zealand, even though it is rich in breathtaking scenery.

Last but not least, as Bond is first and foremost a fictional character, he sometimes visits fictional places such as San Monique or the Republic of Isthmus. The latter is a narco-state, more or less in the hands of businessman Franz Sanchez, inspired by Panama and Colombia, but whose scenes were actually shot in Mexico, in Acapulco and in particular in Villa Arabesque.


To explore this adventure spanning six decades, Assouline offers a richly illustrated book written by Daniel Pembrey, to immerse you in the adventures of the famous spy, and why not find new ideas for a future vacation destination?


The Villa del Balbianello, located on the shores of Lake Como and featured in Casino Royale (2006), is now a victim of its own success, and this summer had to limit the number of tourists.



Featured photo: © Assouline