French wine producers have begun actively sponsoring French production in return for their wines being prominently displayed in films.

The next work from Claude Lelouch, Les Parisiens - the first part of a trilogy called Le Genre Humaine - benefited from a sponsorship deal with the Conseil Interprofessionnel Des Vins d'Alsace (CIVA).

CIVA paid Euros 30,000 in return for four scenes where Alsace wines are prominently displayed.

While product placement is old hat in countries like the US and the UK, the French have only jumped on the bandwagon relatively recently.

In the case of Alsace wine-growers, they are using product placement to circumvent a law that has been in effect since 1992 that restricts advertising for alcohol.

France's Loi Evin bans certain forms of advertising for cigarettes, wines and spirits making communication difficult for one of France's prized products. The law is currently coming under scrutiny after a senator from the Aube region, Roland Courteau, recently proposed that wines not be subject to the same restrictions as hard alcohol

Regarding the Lelouch film, CIVA said: "This is a way for us to get around the Loi Evin and we are looking for other promotional avenues."

Reportedly, it was Lelouch who suggested a partnership which resulted in four scenes, three with tight shots of Alsacian wine bottles and one in which an Alsacian Riesling is served at a bar and where the client remarks on its quality.

Les Parisiens is part of a trilogy that Lelouch says he has been planning for 30 years. Having just finished shooting, the film is set to be released in September and will be followed by Le Theatre Du Boulevard in 2005 and Les Ricochets which will wrap up the story.

Lelouch is breaking with tradition in other ways by playing a role himself in the film which also stars Massimo Ranieri, Maiwenn Le Besco, Mathilde Seigner, Alessandra Martines, Arielle Dombasle, Michel Leeb, Cristiana Reali, Gregori Derangere and the late Ticky Holgado among many others.

Billed mostly as comedy, Lelouch recently said the film is about "the fact that life never happens like we imagined it." Lelouch's Les Films 13 is producing the series alone with Lelouch financing the Euros 30 million budget.