A video talk
No country has won as many Nobel Prizes for Literature as has France – 15 in total. The first winner ever was Frenchman Sully Prudhomme (barely heard of today), and others include Provencal poet Frédéric Mistral, novelist Anatole France, André Gide, Albert Camus, Saint-John Perse, and Jean-Paul Sartre, amongst others.
There’s just so much to love about France – magnificent Paris, French wine and food, French style and fashion, all those wonderful Impressionist painters, and the glorious French countryside. But there’s also its beautiful language and the works of its superb writers.
See France through the eyes of its great authors and their works. I give you my Top Ten Literary Locations in France.
During the 19th century, some brilliant French writers changed the face of the novel and its purpose – Balzac, Dumas, Flaubert, Hugo and Zola were amongst them. And the 20th century also produced remarkable personalities – Proust with his madeleine, and ‘enfant terrible’ Arthur Rimbaud among them.
I’ve always been fascinated by the personalities of great French writers – so many of them are larger-than-life. They lived life to the full – sometimes to excess – with mistresses and lovers, the accumulation of enormous debts, lashings of French style, homes they couldn’t afford, and banquets and cookbooks as accompaniments. This talk will introduce you to some of those intriguing characters, from George Sand to Marcel Proust. It will take you into their memorable residences – chateaux and manor houses, apartments, a seaside villa, and a windmill – but it will also take you to places connected with their fictional creations, such as a prison and a medical museum. You will discover how these writers have been commemorated in France, with statues, museums, street names and plaques.
France ― “the nearest thing to Paradise”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
I started reading French literature in my teens, when I discovered the fabulous Dumas series of The Three Musketeers which taught me lots of French history, and the memorable The Count of Monte Cristo. I wept over Balzac’s superb novel Eugénie Grandet about the daughter of a miser, and read Zola’s powerful Germinal (and then watched Gérard Depardieu in a fabulous TV adaptation – by the way, are there any adaptations of French novels that do NOT have Gérard Depardieu in them?).
Sadly, my French has never been good enough to read these works in the original, but they gave me a deep love of French literature. And French writers all seem to have led such wonderfully colourful lives – mistresses galore, vast debts, larger-than-life personalities, fabulous food and even the writing of cookbooks, and so often gorgeous residences as their homes.
Most of us have been lucky enough to visit France. It is the most popular tourist destination in the world! I hope that this talk will bring back fabulous ‘souvenirs’ of your own travels there, will give you ideas of places to include on your next visit, and will remind you of the absolute glories of ‘la belle France’.
This Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I count down through my 10 most favourite literary locations in France. You’ll have almost 90 minutes of gorgeous armchair travel through these scenic, cultural countries. This talk is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.
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Did you study French at school? Are you lucky enough to be able to read fine works of French literature in the original language? Or have you seen films (usually featuring Gérard Depardieu) of classic French novels such as The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, Madame Bovary or In Search of Lost Time?
What do you think makes France the world’s No. 1 tourist destination? What is it that draws you back to France again and again? Do share with me your views on what makes it such a gorgeous and memorable place. Let’s discuss it here.
What to say? Your illustrated talk on literary France is wonderful. The unfolding sequence of images (photos, etchings, paintings, drawings, cartoons, etc) is stupendous, clearly the result of years of research, superbly sequenced and superbly timed to match the unfolding, fascinating, text.
So thanks again – deep thanks – and congratulations, Susannah, on this memorable talk which I look forward to watching again and will be recommending to friends here and overseas. You have made me want to visit many new places when it’s possible to travel again.
I just loved being with you in France, what a wonderful tour and so much to take in. You are amazing. In these awful times, you shine a light. I love my travels with you. Thanks so much. You are amazing!
What a lovely hour and a half I’ve just spent! And yesterday I was at a lunch with one of the other travellers on Susannah’s tour of Provence, and we were talking about the walk with the 2 donkeys in the Cevennes! I will have to go straight to my album and notes, and relive it all again…..Thank you
Thank you so much for the introduction to parts of France I have yet to enjoy – at a time not too far away, I hope.
I really enjoyed the French tour and my sisters and loving it!