21 June 2018

Frédéric Mistral in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Bouches-du-Rhône (13)

Mirèio, or Mireille in French, is the name of Frédéric Mistral's epic novel in verse (1859) of the star-crossed lovers  Mirèio and Vincèn (Vincent). There is a mésalliance of class, an impossible love which Mireille's 'superior' parents refuse to entertain. So in the burning sun of Provence Mireille walks across the Camargue to plead for the saints in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to change her parents' decision. Alas, she dies of sunstroke, but this book must have played a part in awarding Mistral the Nobel Prize for Literature (1904). In 1943 Louis-Adrien Durand, scrapmerchant, saved the 'Mireille' statue from being melted down by the Nazis for arms by hiding it. This is a stunning portrait of the turmoil of the fictional figure close to the centre of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Avenue Frédéric Mistral has a Bar des Poètes, above the lintel of which is a representation of the great man.

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