Anniversary tributes for Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources author

April 18 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Marcel Pagnol’s death. Commemorations celebrating his life and work are taking place around the country

Marcel Pagnol was a highly successful director, author and playwright
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Author, director and playwright Marcel Pagnol, well known to English-speakers for immortalising Provence life in the films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, is being celebrated across France, 50 years after his death. 

Pagnol is remembered as one of the most loved French authors of the 20th century, a distinguished filmmaker who helped usher in ‘talkies’ and a highly successful playwright. 

He is the subject of many commemorations, particularly in Provence, where he was born and grew up, and Monaco, where Pagnol lived for 11 years, and a three-year homage is being paid to him in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. 

Read more: The man behind the French film classic ‘Jean de Florette’

Jean de Florette

English-speakers may know him best as the man who created Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. Pagnol first released Manon des Sources and Ugolin in 1952, which he adapted into L'Eau des collines, a two-volume novel made up of Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources in 1962. 

These two volumes were then adapted into films, shot back to back and released in 1986, to domestic and international acclaim. 

The first tells the story of Jean de Florette, played by Gérard Depardieu, a city man who moves to the country with his family after inheriting a property coveted by locals Ugolini and his uncle César, who scheme to buy it off him cheaply. The second directly follows the events of the first, focusing on Jean’s daughter Manon and her revenge for the wrongs done to her family.

At the time the most expensive French films ever made, they received 10 BAFTA nominations and grossed millions in both the US and the UK. 

La Gloire de mon père

In France, he is probably most famous for his series of semi-autobiographical novels titled Souvenirs d'enfance (childhood memories), from his birth in Aubagne to his school days in Marseille and, most importantly, to his holidays spent near La Treille, in the Provence countryside.

Artistic retellings rather than strictly autobiographical, the books capture a childlike innocence and the pleasant tranquility of rural life between the two wars, although they also deal with deeper themes, such as grief. 

The first two novels, La Gloire de mon père (My Father’s Glory) and Le Château de ma Mère (My Mother’s Castle), were adapted into films in 1990 and are considerably more famous than the sequels. 

They are good books to read if you are learning French due to their accessible yet beautiful prose, their straightforward and episodic narrative and the immersion into Provence culture they provide. 


Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur celebrates an author that has had an impact on regional identity every year, under their ‘un auteur, une année’ plan. For Pagnol though, it is un auteur, trois années

In 2024, the region will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pagnol’s death. In 2025, it will be the 130th anniversary of his birth and in 2026, the Musée Marcel Pagnol will open in Allauch, near Marseille. 

Across the three years, there will be performances of his plays, broadcasts of his films, an exposition in Marseille and much more, under the guidance of his grandson Nicolas Pagnol. 

Monaco is also commemorating his death, with a memorial held at the principality's Marcel Pagnol Square and a round table discussing his life and work on April 16. He was a close friend of Prince Rainier III

A bust of Pagnol will be unveiled in Aubagne, his birthplace, on April 18, the date of his death. 

On April 19 and 20, two different plays written by Pagnol will be performed at the Théâtre des Variétés in Monaco.

There will be a theatre festival on the theme of Marcel Pagnol in Marseille on June 14 and 15.