Tag: Catherine Deneuve

How the Normandy town of Cherbourg became home to an icon of French cinema

Finally for autumn, a snapshot of my first overseas assignment in 18 months: Cherbourg.

It’s a classic of French cinema.

A film that evokes dewy-eyed nostalgia for a more innocent age and one that firmly put a historic port town in Normandy on the map.

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the 1963 musical romance staring a young Catherine Deneuve, started a local obsession with colourful parasols.

Today, giant umbrellas are installed around town squares in summer and cruise passengers, arriving at the Art Deco cruise terminal, make a beeline for the umbrella-adorned facade of a luxury-brand store that now dominates the central harbour.

The umbrellas of Cherbourg may have started as an art-house hit, but the film has spawned an international umbrella brand to rival Burberry.

The town’s self-guided cinema trail, meanwhile, harks back to the golden age of the experimental nouvelle vague.

It’s based around key locations from the film, each marked with a clapperboard-style plaque. The most famous is the hardware shop featured in the film, located at 13 Rue du Port (pictured above).

The film won director Jacque Demy the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 1964 and made stars of its young leading couple, Catherine Deneuve and Marc Michel.

Read my feature in the May issue of France Magazine.