French cultural life – November 2019

Cloclo and a photo shop closure – This month’s round up of the arts and culture stories creating a buzz in France

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1. Lookalike hangs up microphone

A popular tribute act to the successful 1970s French singer Claude François (known by his fans as Cloclo) has called time on his performing career.

Gautier Allart, a mechanic in the Jura village of Chissey-sur-Loue, who transformed into an all-singing and dancing sosie (doppelganger), says he wants to concentrate on his day job, notably a passion for fixing up old tractors.

The singer was spotted performing at a karaoke aged 12, and was later encouraged by friends to create a full spectacle to perform as Cloclo at weddings, local association parties and nightclubs. His show included four Franche-Comté-born copycat ‘Claudettes’ – Cloclo’s famously glamorous backing dancers.

Claude François sold over 70 million records and co-wrote the lyrics of Comme d’habitude, the original version of My Way. He died from electrocution in his bathroom in 1978.

2. Ballet fundraiser is on-point

Driven by a decline in public arts funding, the prestigious Opéra de Paris ballet company has taken the surprising measure of introducing crowdfunding in order to help pay for its performers’ shoes or other essentials.

The Outreach Association for the Paris Opéra ( has launched its “En pointe!” campaign, which sees donations, depending on size, rewarded with a costume workshop visit or the chance to attend a ballet rehearsal.

Arop director Jean-Yves Kaced said: “It costs €400,000 a year for shoes,” adding that a star dancer can use up to three pairs during a performance of Swan Lake. Donations range from €60 for a pair of pointe shoes to €15,000 to pay for all shoes for 2020’s Giselle production.

3. Shutters down at photo shop

The last surviving shop in Paris dedicated solely to traditional film photography has closed its shutters for the final time, with an on-site auction of all remaining stock.

Photo-Ciné, located near Place d’Italie on Avenue Gobelins in the 13th arrondissement, had been in the same family for 41 years but refused to make a switch to supplying digital photographic equipment despite changing consumer trends.

The closure comes following the death last August of owner Dinh Hanh Vu. “My husband was crazy about photo equipment, he kept buying it, that’s why we have so many things,” said his wife Minh Nguyot Vu.

10,000 items including filters, flashes, cameras and tripods were sold at the 14m2 shop.

4. Country drama scoops prize

France’s literary prize-giving season is under way, and among the first winners is the new novel by much-lauded young author Cécile Coulon.

The 29-year-old from Clermont-Ferrand already has seven novels under her belt and the latest, Une bête au paradis (A beast in paradise), scooped newspaper Le Monde’s prize for book of the year.

Coulon previously won the Le Prix des libraires (in 2017) and Le Prix Guillaume-Apollinaire (2018).

The titular ‘paradise’ is an isolated farm where a woman is bringing up her two young grandchildren following their parent’s death in a road-crash.

5. Young Maid returns

After his well received mini-series P’tit Quinquin (2014) and macabre comedy Slack Bay (2016), Bruno Dumont turned his creativity to a wacky musical take on the early years of The Maid of Orléans.

Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc hardly set critics on fire but despite this, a follow-up arrives this autumn.

12-year-old actress Lise Leplat Prudhomme reprises the lead role of Joan as she is captured by Burgundians and put on trial for heresy – a typically eccentric casting choice given that Joan was 19 at the time of the trial.