THE HUNDREDFOOT JOURNEY
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?