Fiona Alderman blogging from Rural France – An unusual meeting in Salignac
A strange month this has been. In continuation with the last one with people acting very peculiarly. I met a young man who has brought a bright light to the village – he is an artist and very talented too. He recently painted the shop front of a new boutique called “Senteurs é Moi “ selling hand made scented candles and other unusual crafts. He did the one of Serge Gainsbourg at the “Vapeur Verte “ dry cleaning shop, which he says is his most requested, and a picture of Josephine Baker on the side of the hamburger stall.
There is also a great painting on a wall next to the local restaurant which features the castle, church and open market hall in Salignac. All with a very distinctive style. I happened to start chatting to him one day,admiring his work, and found him to be modest about his obvious talents. He told me he lived by his passion for art, going all around France and seeing where he could paint. A nomad’s existence, he said, sometimes a bit lonely, but he stayed in a canal boat on le Midi whilst working there, in an apartment in Paris loaned to him by his boss who wanted him to decorate his bar for him, and at a studio in Toulouse for another client. However he didn’t always do this. For 10 years he was a “Docteur Clown” a clown doctor in hospitals. Amazing. This is quite unusual in France and not so well known either as in the US, where it originated. The principal aim being to help children suffering from long term and even fatal diseases. The clown's work is to alleviate some of the pain with laughter and distraction from the daily routine in hospital. I looked at his open face with a smile that almost reached the ears, that would surely have benefited the children.
I enjoyed talking to him and it was refreshing to hear about unusual career, giving pleasure to many through his character and his vision of the world.
This is one of my favourite French films and in which Jeanne Moreau featured. She sadly died this month but is chiefly remembered in the film, singing a very catchy tune “Tourbillon” about the whirlwind of life. She herself epitomized this in her own life, her films, many love affairs and often heartbreak and sorrows.
She was born in France to an English mother, who was a dancer, and a father, who had a restaurant in Paris and she knew she always wanted to be an actress. By 1947 she was at the Avignon Festival and appearing with la Comédie Française as a leading actress. She began to work with the “Nouvelle Vague” the New Wave film directors of the time: Louis Malle, Fassbinder, Luis Bunuel, Wim Wenders and, of course, François Truffaut, who saw her as his muse in Jules et Jim. In this film she plays two men who are in love with her off against each other and the film deals with the complications arising through their rivalry and their eventual acceptance of the situation. There were similarities in her private life . as many men fell under her spell including, Truffaut, Orson Welles, Miles Davis and Tony Richardson who would leave Vanessa Redgrave for her. At one point she dreamed of having a huge house where she could lodge all her lovers! However, she did marry and had a son by the actor Jean -Louis Richard but was apparently never maternal to the little boy, Jerôme, which supposedly never changed in all the years and claimed to be a source of profound disappointment to him.
She would become a director and screenwriter in the years to come and asked twice to be the President of the Festival in Cannes. She even performed with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall with a career that would last right up to her eighties – always curious to learn something new but a free spirit too.
The little car without a licence
I have seen these cars about and wondered about them? They are called ”voitures sans permis” or voiturettes that need no licence. How strange is that? They are expensive though, ranging from 7,000 euros up to 14, 000 and have a very limited speed. They cannot go on the motorway or the Parisian Périphérique, and the registration plate is only obligatory at the back.
They first started as a motorized tricycle, French designed, at the end of the 19th century. They were easy to buy and maintain, even sold in kits ready to assemble. Today, even from the age 14, with just one day of training, you can drive this car. With no exam either, wow !!!! I know someone who has one , a lady who lives on a farm miles from anywhere and she comes to the supermarket to stock up for the month. With hardly any room for another passenger, it looks like she is in a motorized lawn mower!!
Fifi’s stories from France Profonde . August 2017.
Film and contemporary dance courses in SW France.
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