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French cultural life - October 2018

A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

1. Norman wisdom

The Normandy Tourist Board has created a handy new application for web and smartphones aimed at visitors already in situ to discover ‘secret’ places to visit.

Normandy Secrets features local Norman tourism professionals revealing the best places to visit and top tips on great deals for accommodation.

For example, Christophe tips you off about boat travel on the Seine for the best views while Carole knows where you can see traditional lace being made. Your location dictates the cultural, culinary and other themed recommendations.  

2.  Mean-spirited Mitchell

Veteran French rock and roll copyist, actor and close chum of the late Johnny Hallyday, Eddy Mitchell, did little to enhance his reputation as a showbiz charmer during a recent interview published in Le Journal du Dimanche, with several targets in his crosshairs.

Talking about musical films, the 76-year-old described La La Land, the Oscar-scooping sensation directed by Damien ChazElle, in less than glowing terms. Of its co-stars, he said Emma Stone was ‘moche comme un pou’ (‘as ugly as a louse’) and said Ryan Gosling was ‘flat-footed’. ‘I hope they never have children together,’ he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mitchell called Hallyday’s acting style ‘laborious’, Jean-Luc Godard ‘over-rated’ and recalled two days’ work directing a Haribo sweets commercial in 1987, for which he was better paid than for acting in a feature film.

3.  A love of elongated limbs

“I do not hide my pleasure in being able to exhibit in the great hall of the Capucins this major English sculptor, whose work shines all over the world though still little known in France.”

So says Michel-Edouard Leclerc, President of Fonds Hélène et Edouard Leclerc, of the major Henry Moore retrospective he has curated in Landerneau, Brittany, running until November 4.

The life and career of the Yorkshire-born, post-War modernist sculptor is chronologically traced through a selection of emblematic works, most of them on loan from the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green, where he lived and worked.

4. Old school thrills

Literary tomes that win prestigious prizes in France may keep the Parisian chattering classes in conversation, but when it comes to an everyman holiday read, the French like nothing more than a good old home-spun thriller.

This is why best-selling writer Guillaume Musso (pictured) is such a phenomenal unit-shifter in FNACs up and down the land.

His latest book, La Jeune Fille et la Nuit, about three friends attending a school reunion in [Musso’s home town] Antibes, thirty years after they committed a terrible crime (this is not a spoiler) sold more than 550,000 copies from publication in April to August.

The book, which Musso describes as ‘Twin Peaks in Pagnol country’, will not, however, be translated into English (and entitled Night and the Maiden) until at least Spring 2019.

5.  Chansons d’amour

Charlotte Gainsbourg has revealed some details of her teenage obsession with the singer Charles Aznavour. However, speaking to RTL, she said her love of the crooner sparked fury in her father, Serge. “I must have been 15 or 16. I listened to Charles Aznavour over and over, which drove my father crazy with jealousy.”

Charlotte previously told Vanity Fair that after Serge died in 1991, she could not cope with hearing her father’s songs being played in cafés and taxis. “I knew all the intros and asked the driver to turn off the radio from the first bars. I was lost. It was complicated to manage my father’s voice, his breathing, his laughter.”

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