Tag: Normandy

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 features from Cherbourg, coming in the new year in France Magazine.

The amazing story of the Normandy artist behind the Water-Lilies

Just back home.

I spent last week on the Monet trail In Normandy, exploring sites associated with the father of the Impressionist art movement.

It was scorching hot and peak-season chaos but I could still get a sense of the delicious tranquility of Monet’s garden at Giverny [pictured above].

And, by visiting places in the Seine Valley between Paris and Rouen, I could also get a sense of the man behind the movement.

Best of all, a visit to the Musée d’Orangerie offered me a chance to get up close with his master opus, the Water-Lilies cycle — les Nympheas in French.

The article is for the November issue of France Magazine but, meanwhile, here’s a taster.

To get up close to the Water-Lilies requires a visit to Musée de L’Orangerie, tucked into the corner of the Tuileries Garden in Paris.

The eight compositions, moving from dawn to sunset across two light-filed rooms, form the striking centrepiece of the overall exhibition.

In the words of Monet himself, it was created to give “… the illusion of an endless whole, of a wave with no horizon and no shore”.