From the scrawls carved by Nazi soldiers on the eaves of Vincennes to the initials chipped by shipwrecked sailors into La Rochelle’s mighty towers, graffiti is part of the very fabric of France’s monuments. And from April, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux will turn the spotlight on these scribbled mementos, offering an alternative history of the nation’s landmarks and an insight into the lives of the ‘vandals’ who altered them. The Château de Vincennes will lead the charge, charting its…
She broke through the Germans’ supposedly impenetrable Hindenburg Line during the Battle of Cambrai only to be summarily buried after WW1. Now, after being unearthed by a local hotelier some 19 years ago, Deborah – one of the last surviving Mark IV tanks – has been unveiled as the centrepiece of the new Cambrai Tank 1917 museum in Flesquières. Come and pay your respects to the hefty Iron Lady who hastened the end of trench warfare. www.tourisme-nordpasdecalais.fr
As Nice prepares to celebrate the centenary of its "Little Hollywood", we look back on the Victorine Studios' tumultuous history.
Jet-set glamour and tragedy with a soupçon of scandal, La Victorine's tangled history is worthy of the twistiest thrillers ever produced within its legendary studios. And in its centenary year, we would be remiss not to indulge in a little action replay of the rise, demise and rebirth of the Riviera's "Little Hollywood". La Victorine’s rollercoaster journey began in 1919, when director Louis Nalpas set his sights on building film studios in the seaside resort of Nice only to run out of funds and part with the fledgling enterprise. In 1925, along came flamboyant filmmaker Rex Ingram, who transformed La Victorine into the industry's most coveted studios – and quite the hit factory. It was at the Victorine that a bright-eyed and beehived Brigitte Bardot took her first tentative steps into the limelight, while a constellation of stars and icons graced its hallowed halls over the decades – among them Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Paul Newman and Robert De Niro and directors François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy. Not even three devastating fires, ownership changeovers and a world war could knock the seemingly indestructible Victorine off its glitzy pedestal.
That is, until the 1970s ushered in the fraught reign of Nice’s notorious mayor, Jacques Médecin, and with him the (near) demise of the Riviera's cult studios. The crooked official presided over such blatant corruption (and mismanagement) at the Victorine and indeed on the Côte d’Azur that Graham Greene, then a resident of nearby Antibes, helped spark a criminal investigation that saw him put behind bars. Conditions at the studio were reportedly so poor on the set of Sean Connery’s final outing as James Bond, Never Say Never Again, that the director threatened to pull the plug. Various investors set out in vain to resurrect the flailing Victorine, including Michael Douglas; until it finally flickered back to life in the late 1990s under the stewardship of Euro Media. Since then, more than 20 blockbusters and numerous series have been shot at the studios. To mark the Victorine's milestone centenary – and close the door on its tempestuous past at long last – Nice will hold a bumper year of celebrations charting its epic rebirth. The annual carnival, biennale, jazz and literature festivals, will all be cinema-themed for the occasion.
As the Loire prepares to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance, Gillian Thornton fi nds out what's in store
The "Capital of Christmas" is officially open for business. The home of Noël – hence its wellearned moniker – Strasbourg's Christkindelsmärik market has been spreading the Christmas spirit
The countdown to Lyon's Fête des Lumières has begun and it's set to be a right dazzler. A light show of truly epic proportions, the festival dates back to 1852, when ﬂash ﬂoods and storms brought the unveiling of a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière to a screeching halt. The deluge ﬁnally eased up on December 8, which locals celebrated by decking windowsills with candles and lanterns. The tradition has been upheld
ever since – with a pyrotechnical twist, that is. The candlelit vigil of old has morphed into a three-day citywide light and sound bonanza. Brace yourself for a kaleidoscope of twinkling lights, installations dancing across every last inch of the city centre's façades, all to the soundtrack of festive tunes as Lyon shimmers in honour of the Virgin...