Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series doesn’t just take us back in time. The second novel, Dragonfly in Amber, sets sail for French shores before whisking us to the heart of Louis XV’s court at Versailles. Of course, the Starz series follows suit.
The production is based in Scotland but to replicate 18th Century France, Outlander Season 2 filming locations were found further afield – although none are actually found across the Channel.
Where was Season 2 of Outlander Filmed?
Like many of Outlander’s principal sets, some backdrops were created in a purpose-built studio in Cumbernauld just outside Glasgow.
Production designer Jon Gary Steele created several new French-themed sets on the production’s vast sound stages including the dubious Maison Elise and Master Raymond’s apothecary shop.
So was Jared Fraser’s Paris apartment, where Claire and Jamie live while they’re in the city, but you’d be forgiven for thinking the apartment scenes were shot on location.
The team recreated the effect of sunlight as it filters through windows in the French capital, but they went the extra mile for the wine merchant’s home. Those windows really do open out onto the cobbled quadrangle – real courtyards were built beneath Jared Fraser’s balconies.
Despite being constructed entirely on set (and comprised of a cannibalised version of the Fraser apartment), Louis XV’s apartment is surprisingly authentic in a different way - several murals were borrowed from the Louvre to furnish it.
In addition, Outlander Season 2 filmed on location in Scotland, England and the Czech Republic.
Le Havre Harbour
Jamie and Claire arrive at the harbour of Le Havre, escorted by Murtagh, at the start of Season Two. Outlander’s French harbour filming location was actually Dysart Harbour in Fife, which dates back to the 15th Century and once did a bustling trade with the Low Countries and later the Baltics.
Deanston Distillery’s building dates back to the 18th Century, when the whisky manufactory was still a cotton mill – perfect timing for its role in the Starz series.
Located in Doune, in the Perth area, this riverside distillery was used for Outlander’s Season 2 warehouse scenes. It’s used in the shots of Claire attempting to treat an ill sailor with her medical expertise, putting herself under suspicion yet again in the process.
The Outlander Castle Leoch location, Doune Castle, can be found nearby too. The 14th Century stronghold appears in exterior shots as the fictional home of the MacKenzie clan (likely in reference to the real clan’s Castle Leod) following a brief stint as Winterfell in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones.
Check dates in advance in case of an unexpected closure, but otherwise this medieval castle is open to history buffs and location fans all year round for a very reasonable entrance fee.
Paris Street Scenes
Hopetoun House near Edinburgh has popped up in every season so far, but almost always playing a different part. In Season 2, the courtyard behind the rather chic Stables Tearoom appears in Outlander’s Paris scenes as one of the city’s streets.
Incidentally, the estate’s Midhope Castle plays a more iconic role on the show. It’s instantly recognised at Outlander’s Lallybroch filming location. Restored in the 1980s, the castle stands on private land but you can book in advance to visit a bit of television (and actual) history.
Other French street scenes were shot in Prague, which is earning itself a reputation as an excellent pre-Revolutionary Paris.
To date, the Bohemian capital has appeared as the home of the Bourbon dynasty in The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Musketeers, the 1998 adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and of course, Outlander (not to mention several turns as Vienna and various appearances as itself).
The city’s Na Kampe was used frequently in Outlander’s Paris street scenes, with the nearby Town Hall Steps making an appearance. You’ll find both in Prague’s historic city centre, surrounded by Baroque palaces, museums and galleries and Prague Castle.
L’Hopital des Anges
The Military Church of St. John of Nepomuk is used for exterior shots of L’Hopital des Anges. It’s easily recognisable by its narrow façade with columns which tower over the entrance.
Interior shots of the hospital were filmed closer to home, at Glasgow Cathedral. Its main worship area is far grander than the space seen onscreen though. Only its 12th Century stone-pillared crypt is featured, lending an accidental touch of eeriness to the location.
Fans of BBC’s The Musketeers might recognise part of the Palace of Versailles which seems to have travelled across the two shows. The filming location for Outlander’s library scene is the Strahov Monastery’s glorious painted library, which was also used as the Versailles library in The Musketeers.
Wilton House in Salisbury stands out as a rare English filming spot on the roster, but this is another Outlander Versailles location that is known from another show. It’s best known in TV land as part of The Crown’s Buckingham Palace – the Single Cube Room and adjoining Double Cube room are showcased heavily in the Netflix drama.
In Outlander the same suite is part of the French palace. Look out for white walls decorated with elaborate gilded swags, and lavishly decorated door frames.
Anyone who’s interested in Jacobite and Stuart history beyond the Starz series might want to check out this location. The Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery were close to the Stuart kings of their day from the reign of James VI and I onwards (Shakespeare’s theatre troupe even entertained the King and Earl at Wilton House in 1603).
This house opens to visitors throughout the summer but check dates before travelling.
Drummond Castle Gardens supplied a greener Outlander Versailles location, the palace gardens.
"The team here puts a lot of effort into making the gardens look their best and we’re delighted that fans of the series got to see them on screen in all their glory,” said Head Gardener Edith Barnes.
Drummond Castle is perfectly suited to the show’s Jacobite theme, not least the way the Scottish nobility find their estates in jeopardy as their cause falls foul of English forces. The 2nd Duke of Perth, played a part in the 1715 Jacobite Rising, and the family was also implicated in 1765.
There’s also a Parisian connection. Penalties for the earlier Dukes’ Jacobite sympathies halted their earlier garden landscaping works in the 18th Century meaning that many of their efforts were lost. The parterre and formal terracing were eventually brought back to life by Empress Josephine of France’s former gardener.
Visitors can search for the tree planted by Queen Victoria or walk the formal gardens between late spring and early autumn (note, there are cold drinks and loos onsite, but you’ll find a cup of tea in the nearby town of Crieff).