Living France - - DESTINATION -

It’s lit­tle won­der why He­len Mir­ren and co de­camped to St-An­tonin-Noble-Val to shoot The Hun­dred-Foot Jour­ney. Telling the story of an In­dian chef who learns the tricks of the French culinary trade when he set­tles in France, the feel-good film re­quired a set­ting that siz­zled on screen with signs of an equally ap­peal­ing way of life; some­thing that this quaint lit­tle vil­lage in Tarn-et-Garonne has in spades.

Nes­tled be­neath the tow­er­ing white cliffs of Le Roc d’Anglars, the me­dieval vil­lage sits be­tween the Avey­ron and Bon­nette rivers and is well placed for ex­plor­ing the area’s im­pres­sive scenery. The nearby Gorges du Tarn of­fers myr­iad ac­tiv­i­ties for out­door ad­ven­tur­ers in­clud­ing ca­noe­ing, kayak­ing, rock climb­ing and pothol­ing, to name a few. A pop­u­lar pas­time here is pad­dling down­stream and stop­ping off at lit­tle river­side towns along the way. How­ever, if you want to stay on dry land, there are 15 trails for hik­ing, cy­cling and horse rid­ing to choose from, as well as some caves to ex­plore.

For those seek­ing a slower pace of life, the vil­lage’s se­cluded squares and sleepy streets pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity to do so. Ev­ery Sun­day, vil­lagers gather at the me­dieval Place de la Halle for the weekly mar­ket. Under the cov­ered roof, peo­ple can buy fresh pro­duce for the week ahead; ev­ery­thing from fish and meat to fruit and wine. After stock­ing up on sup­plies, lo­cals sit out­side on the square, en­joy­ing a cof­fee or glass of wine and soak­ing up the af­ter­noon sun. The cen­tral hub of the vil­lage, Place de la Halle ( pic­tured above) also made sev­eral ap­pear­ances in the film, some­thing that caused great ex­cite­ment with the lo­cals. Charles Small­wood who runs es­tate agency Agence l’Union in the vil­lage said it took over a lot of town life. “It’s al­ways ex­cit­ing when a film crew de­scends to make a ma­jor movie on your doorstep,” he says. “Our of­fice was trans­formed into a florist shop, so while we con­tin­ued to work in­side, our win­dows were full of beau­ti­ful flow­ers – I don’t think it ap­peared once in the film!” he laughs. “The mar­ket scenes took place right out­side and it was very in­ter­est­ing to see how the scenes were set. Many of the lo­cals were ex­tras in the film and one of our ven­dors was a stand-in for He­len Mir­ren. My son’s house was used for a cou­ple of scenes, as was a prop­erty that we now have on the mar­ket.”

Even though it has been al­most three years since the film was re­leased, traces of the block­buster re­main. The vil­lage cinema, Le Querlys, still has showings of the film in its the­atre. After watch­ing the good life on screen, film­go­ers step out­side the the­atre doors and live it. What could be more per­fect than that?

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