26 June 2019

La Grande Vadrouille mural in Beaune, Côte-d'Or (21)

Gérard Oury's film La Grande Vadrouille (1966), a World War II comedy, was the highest French box office success of all time until 2008, when it was eclipsed by Dany Boon's Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis. The film was made in a number of locations, among them various places in Paris, Vézelay, Meursault, and Beaune. It was in Beaune in 1996 that Patrick Bidaux executed this mural. Below I let the shots speak for themselves: the mural is essentially in two segments, from the left with the production team, prominently including Gérard Oury with his loud hailer, and on the right Louis de Funès with Bourvil in front of the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune.






24 June 2019

Roger Bernard in Saint-Martin-de-Castillon (84)

On the D33 heading north towards Viens, about one hundred meters after its junction with the D900, a few yards from Céreste, in Vaucluse but a few yards from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, is a monument to the poet Roger Bernard, who was killed here by the Gestapo on 22 June 1944 at the age of twenty-three. Included in the memorial are a few words from Anna Marly's 'Le Chant des partisants'.





Cinema in Saint-André-de-Cruzières (07)

The tiny village of Saint-André-de-Cruzières (population 466 in 2016) in the Ardèche (but quite close to Gard) has a cinema, which here announces old classics such as Gérard Oury's La Grande Vadrouille (1966), Claude Autant-Lara's La Traversée de Paris (1956), and Jacques Tati's Mon oncle (1958). A mural with a silhouette of Charlie Chaplin in front of a box office adorns the doors.

Frédéric Mistral in Grambois (84)

At the side of the church in Grambois is a quotation from Frédéric Mistral's Lis Óulivado (1912) – meaning 'Les Olivades', or olive gatherings – into French as "Le paysan, en tout pays, est le support de la nation ; on aura beau faire des inventions, il faut que se remue la terre": Mistral is of course emphasising the vital importance of the peasant, the person who works the soil, in all countries.

23 June 2019

Marius André in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes (84)

Marius André (1868-1927) was a writer, poet, journalist, critic and translator from French to Occitan, born in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes, where there is a plaque on his house. Initially he was close to Mistral's Félibrige and published by Joseph Roumanille. However, he later became one of the collaborators of Charles Maurras's L'Action française. He also contributed to Revue universelle, La Revue du siècle and other organs. In the garden of the chapel at Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes a reproduction of his funeral monument, made by David Vallée, was made to replace the original in the Cimetière de Vaugirard in Paris, which was accidentally destroyed.





René Char, Céreste, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)


"DANS CETTE MAISON A VÉCU
LE POÈTE RENÉ CHAR,
ALIAS CAPITAINE ALEXANDRE,
CHEF DÉPARTEMENTAL DE LA S.A.P
 DANS LA RÉSISTANCE.
SES COMPAGNONS ET LUI MENÈRENT
DE CÉRESTE,
ET DANS LES ALPES DE HAUTE PROVENCE,
LE COMBAT POUR LA LIBERTÉ
CONTRE L'OPPRESSION FASCISTE ET NAZIE"
1940 - 1944'"

SAP stands for 'Section des atterrissage et des parachutages', an internal resistance movement during World War II, of which, as the plaque says, 'Capitaine Alexandre' (the poet René Char), was the leader from this house in Céreste. Rue René Char is quite apart from this house, on the other side of the village.

22 June 2019

The Grave of Germain Nouveau, Pourrières (83), Var (83)

The grave of Germain Nouveau in Pourrières, which I missed on the first visit to the town. Far in the background is the Montagne Sainte Victoire.

'Qui est mort dans la misère
Lui, de la pléiade des rois
Le plus grand poète varois

Germain Nouveau de Pourrières'

'Mélancoliquement mon esprit fait la planche'
                                             Germain Nouveau

The Water Mill, Les Taillades, Vaucluse (84)

The paddle wheel water mill in Les Taillades. Le Moulin de Saint Pierre began in 1859, on the opening of Le canal de l’Isle, when its activities were concerned with the madder plant, noted for its dyeing qualities. Competition meant the mill was auctioned in 1867, passed thorough several hands inactive, until it was bought by two millers in 1874, when it became a flour mill until 1881. Eventually the municipalité of Les Taillades bought the mill in 1981, where it serves a number of cultural purposes.

21 June 2019

Albert Ciocca in Le Contadour (04)

On the interpretation plaque opposite the Mairie in Le Contadour, it notes the 'Théâtre du Berger Aubert. En hommage à Albert Ciocca, berger 'Poète'. Né à Marseille en 1894, décédé à Banon en 1963.' Hubert Blond discovered the pencilled work of Albert Ciocca (1894-1963), the 'shepherd poet',  on the stones of a number of sheepfolds: they tell, for instance, of unattainable love and the hatred for his work. Blond's Parcours poétiques du berger Albert, was published in 2012, and tells the story of his search for these writings and his findings on the man. In 2012 the commune Redortiers-La Contadour built this théâtre as a homage to shepherds, and Albert in particular. Ciocca was buried in a communal grave in Banon. (The windmill behind the photo is not that of 'Giono's mill', as is commonly believed.)


Tino Rossi in Lauris, Vaucluse (84)

Tino Rossi (1907-83) was born in Ajaccio and was known by the yucky epithet 'Le Roi des chanteurs de charme' ('The king of the charm singers') His 'Petit Papa Noël' (1946) remains the song which has sold the most number of copies in the history of the French recording industry. As the sign here notes in a shop in Lauris which is now a florist's, this is where he made his first public performances, on 14 and 15 September 1930. The representation of the harp on the façade strongly indicates that this building was originally designed for musical activities.



20 June 2019

Charles Maurras, Bouches-du-Rhône (31), Roquevaire

The anti-semitic Charles Maurras (1868-1952), journalist, essayist, politician and French poet, member of L'Académie française and one of the principal movers behind the ultra-right Action française, is buried in the cemetery in Roquevaire.

Description de cette image, également commentée ci-après



Behind this grave, the wonder of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, painted so many times by Cézanne.

19 June 2019

The Amazing World of Danielle Jacqui, Roquevaire (13)

 'La Maison de celle qui peint', lit. 'The House of the Woman who Paints' is the major attraction by a very long shot in Roquevaire, more specifically in Pont-de-l'Étoile, a hamlet in that commune. She received a 'progressive' education (à la A. S. Neill if a semi-equivalent needs to be found in terms of English culture), and this was important to her development as an individual. She married at the age of eighteen, and it was after her divorce in 1970 that she began to find herself as an artist. The relatively short time we spent with Danielle Jacqui was quite revealing: she is a very remarkable, gifted woman with strong intellectual qualities, a large knowledge of things artistic, and a keen sense of nuance. As a person educated in mainly literary sources, I was very interested in how literature could be placed among her interests and influences. Danielle Jacqui's early literary influences include Lewis Carroll (the Queen figures among the artistic characters here), Henry Miller and Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Vol au dessus d'un nid de coucou), and largely foreign writers such as Russian ones. When I tried to press her on her influences by contemporary French writers, she agreed to an interest in Marie NDiaye, but more particularly Marguerite Duras (both among my all-time favourite authors).

The images I include below I do so without comment, partly because many of Danielle's inspirations come from within her mind and body, they are largely figures from her unconscious mind, often inexplicable. Unfortunately it wasn't possible for me (because of the time of day) to take a good shot of the exterior of her house, but I include a few lousy ones nonetheless. Inside, I try to sum up in pictures what Danielle is about: her Arbre de vie ('Tree of life') with its hands with eyes pushing away evil; there's a shot of her office; the staircase; the atelier; the bedrooms; a poem; an unpublished novel-cum-diary; most of all, Danielle is everywhere here. It was a very rare privilege, and indeed an honour, to have Danielle Jacqui talk to us, to make very intelligent nuances and most of all to be just who she is: a great artist and a great mind.