Some of France’s best-loved towns, vil­lages and ci­ties have pro­vided the set­ting for our favourite films. Ca­tri­ona Burns puts the spot­light on four lo­ca­tions and finds that they’re even bet­ter in real life

Living France - - CONTENTS -

Cover story As Cannes rolls out the red car­pet, we ex­plore the French lo­ca­tions be­hind four big-screen hits

Wtowns ith its scenic ci­ties, is and vil­lages, France filma favourite among cre­ate mak­ers try­ing to some movie magic. France have be­come Lo­ca­tions all over a host screen thanks to stars of the sil­ver to house favourites of films, from art think And, when you Hol­ly­wood clas­sics. icons leg­ends, act­ing that Hol­ly­wood ci­ties, have eaten in these and film greats set these towns and strolled through well vil­lages, we could up shop in these live. are star places to be­lieve that they be­yond from France and This month, films Cannes at the Fes­ti­val de will be cel­e­brated redthe fort­night of and, while we love movie the real-life French car­pet glam­our, shine our vote. Here we sets are what get four of our favourites. the spot­light on

‘It’s like some­thing out of a film’ is an ex­pres­sion said on re­peat around the me­dieval vil­lage of Locronan in west Fin­istère in Brit­tany, but when it comes to this par­tic­u­lar plus beau vil­lage, it rings true. Re­main­ing, in many ways, un­changed since the mid-18th cen­tury, the vil­lage is a favourite for films set in times gone by, in­clud­ing Jean-Pierre Je­unet’s First World War pic­ture, A Very Long En­gage­ment star­ring Au­drey Tautou. The film tells the story of a young cou­ple torn apart by war, and Locronan pro­vides the pic­ture-per­fect back­drop for the idyl­lic be­gin­ning of the pair’s re­la­tion­ship.

It is not only the vil­lage’s lack of tele­phone poles and elec­tric­ity wires that makes the film feel and look so au­then­tic. Choco­late-box shops, thatched roof cot­tages and gran­ite stone build­ings also add to the feel of an­other time. And, while these idyl­lic fea­tures may look too good to be true, they are very much a part of the res­i­dents’ dreamy day-to-day life.

A cen­tral meet-up point for the lo­cals is the Place de l’Église in the vil­lage cen­tre; a cob­bled square bor­dered by tra­di­tional boulan­geries, cafés, crêperies and the 15th-cen­tury Église St-Ro­nan. In ad­di­tion to church­go­ers, the chapel is qui­etly busy with peo­ple com­ing to see the beau­ti­ful stained-glass win­dows and dis­cover the story of Saint Ro­nan that is carved in the wooden pul­pit.

There’s more crafts­man­ship to be found along the vil­lage’s me­dieval lanes with shops sell­ing crafts that the modern world has seem­ingly for­got­ten: ar­ti­sans mak­ing hand­made pens, knives, jew­ellery, glass­work and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments add to the home-grown feel that Locronan cham­pi­ons. Mar­kets of­ten take place along Place de la Mairie adding to the com­mu­nity’s ethos of keep­ing it lo­cal, while the en­chant­ing Christ­mas mar­ket in De­cem­ber and the sum­mer­time marché aux étoiles craft mar­ket bring a whole new lease of life to the vil­lage.

Largely cut off to traf­fic, you can stroll around with­out a care in the world in Locronan. Get a cof­fee and a slice of the tra­di­tional kouign-amann cake and park your­self on one of the benches around the vil­lage that are sur­rounded by pink and pur­ple hy­drangeas.

For more peace and quiet, the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nou­velle never fails to de­liver. You’ll rarely find a soul about this hum­ble church squir­reled away at the edge of Le Bois du Névet for­est, but can­dles eter­nally flicker and there are al­ways fresh flow­ers sur­round­ing the re­li­gious stat­ues.

Al­though it has under a thou­sand res­i­dents, Locronan wel­comes lots of tourists, es­pe­cially when it hosts spe­cial events. A par­tic­u­lar high­light is La Petite Troménie pro­ces­sion, a re­li­gious pa­rade and one of Brit­tany’s old­est par­dons show­cas­ing tra­di­tional Bre­ton cos­tumes, mu­sic and cul­ture. If you do want to ac­cess big­ger towns there is a daily bus ser­vice to Douarnenez and Quim­per from Mon­day to Satur­day, with a route that also trav­els to the spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral site of Pointe du Raz.

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