Grammy Awards 2023 | The ‘Made in France’ nominees

The 65th Grammy Awards is approaching and will be taking place on 5th February in Los Angeles at the Crypto.com Arena. The ceremony will be aired live on CBS and also live or on demand on Paramount +.

For the latest edition there will be 91 awards and six new categories have been added. Among the nominees unveiled on 15th November are four ‘Made in France’ artists: David Guetta, Ibrahim Maalouf, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Nancy Grant. World-famous DJ and producer David Guetta, who has already been nominated a number of times, has also won two awards in previous years. But for Franco-Lebanese trumpet-player and composer Maalouf it would be a first award at the globally renowned ceremony. Franco-American singer Cécile McLorin Salvant is in the running in two categories, while French-Quebecoise Nancy Grant is nominated for her contribution to Adele’s video for ‘Easy On Me’, directed with Xavier Dolan (the same pair that directed the video for ‘Hello’, which received numerous awards including ‘Song of the Year’ in 2015.

“Best Dance/Electronic Recording”

David Guetta and Bebe Rexha – “I’m Good (Blue)”

“Best Global Music Album”

Ibrahim Maalouf et Angélique Kidjo – Queen of Sheba

“Best Jazz Vocal Album” and “Best Arrangement, Instrument and Vocals”

Cécile McLorin Salvant – Ghost Song and “Optimistic Voices/No Love Dying”

“Best Music Video”

Nancy Grant – “Easy on me”

Sacreblue! x SBS
The January Selection

Every month, Sacreblue! highlights some francophone films from the SBS catalogue.
These movies will be available for the whole month for free on SBS On Demand!

Here is our January selection, enjoy these adventure-filled tales over the summer.

Special addition: enjoy a podcast about Australian history in French!

 

A Woman of Paris (1923)

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Edna Purviance, Adolphe Menjou, Carl Miller, Lydia Knott, Charles K. French, Clarence Geldert, Betty Morrissey, Malvina Polo, Henry Bergman, Harry Northrup, Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin films are known for being comedy productions also featuring Charlie Chaplin as an actor. This silent film surprised viewers by being a drama production by Charlie Chaplin without him appearing in the film. Critical response to the film however was very positive; Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance wrote about the film:

Most examinations of A Woman of Paris select a key scene such as Marie on the train platform or Pierre removing a handkerchief from Marie’s dresser drawer, or the natural and simple approach to performance as the basis of the film’s critical laurels, while overlooking Chaplin’s overall construction of the visual narrative. However, the film’s greatness is not limited to a few isolated scenes. Chaplin’s directorial skill and the film’s power are demonstrated in the careful and direct way that Chaplin tells a simple story. Chaplin achieved his purpose of conveying ‘psychology by subtle action’ throughout the visual narrative by imbuing the décor with symbolism, by using objects for their metaphoric and metonymic value, and by parallel storytelling and editing.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.

 

Spread Your Wings / Donne-moi des ailes (2019)

Director: Nicolas Vanier
Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Mélanie Doutey, Louis Vazquez, Frédéric Saurel, Lilou Fogli, Grégori Baquet, Dominique Pinon, Ariane Pirié, Philippe Magnan, Christine Braconnier, Cyril Necker
A visionary scientist and his video game obsessed teenage son work together on a special project to save an endangered species of bird.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.

 

Stolen Kisses / Baisers volés (1968)

Director: François Truffaut
Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Michaël Lonsdale, Claude Jade, Daniel Ceccaldi, Claire Duhamel, Catherine Lutz, André Falcon

Stolen Kisses follows the tumultuous on-again off-again relationship of Antoine and Christine and acts as a continuation of Truffaut’s previous films The 400 Blows and Antoine and Colette.

The film was nominated for many awards including an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Stolen Kisses was well-reviewed by critics all over the world. In an enthusiastic review for The New York Times , Vincent Canby commented:

With what can only be described as cinematic grace, Truffaut’s point of view slips in and out of Antoine so that something that on the surface looks like a conventional movie eventually becomes as fully and carefully populated as a Balzac novel. There is not a silly or superfluous incident, character, or camera angle in the movie. Truffaut is the star of the film, always in control, whether the movie is ranging into the area of slapstick, lyrical romance or touching lightly on De Gaulle’s France (a student demonstration on the TV screen). His love of old movies is reflected in plot devices (overheard conversations), incidental action (two children walking out of the shoe store wearing Laurel and Hardy masks), and in the score, which takes Charles Trenet’s 1943 song Que reste-t-il de nos amours (known in an English-language version as “I Wish You Love”) and turns it into a joyous motif.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.


L’histoire Cachée d’Australie Podcast:

Over the past six months, SBS French journalist Grégory Plesse and Flinders university senior lecturer, Dr. Romain Fathi, have launched an ongoing series of podcasts on Australian history. Those podcasts are recorded in French, bien sûr, and aim to cover ‘lesser known’ (allegedly) aspects of Australian history.

Podcasts include but are not limited to: the Emu War, nuclear tests in Australia, colonisation, Pine Gap, Canberra, the Sydney Olympics, etc.

The series is available here and will continue to grow through 2023: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/french/fr/podcast/lhistoire-cachee-daustralie

 

 

Review of Two of Us (Deux)

Film critique by Emmanuelle Dunn Lewis

             

 

Two of Us (Deux) by Italian director Filippo Meneghetti is a touching reminder of the need to make every moment count. The film’s exploration of the love story of the lesbian couple, retirees Nina (played by Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (played by Martine Chevallier), is one that is rarely shown in popular media with romances, and particularly queer romances, which predominantly focus on a younger demographic. Meneghetti thoughtfully reminds us that their story is both unseen and unheard through shots of the couple cloaked in darkness and the relative silence of the soundtrack.

The concealment of their story seeps into the plot itself with Nina and Madeline carefully hiding their romantic relationship from their friends and family under the guise of them being close neighbours living opposite each other. The audience is left agonising over what could have happened had Madeleine introduced Nina to her family as Madeleine’s stroke leaves her without the ability to speak and leads to the lovers being separated.

From the relatively sparse soundtrack alone, we might be fooled into thinking that we are watching a horror film, anticipating a jump scare right around the corner. The silence is unnerving. In the opening scene, a young girl screams in the wind when she cannot find her friend in a game of hide-and-seek, but we cannot hear what she says above the screeches of crows. Like a horror film, we view the protagonists from behind doorways and through windows, giving us the uncomfortable impression that they are being watched. Meneghetti cleverly positions the audience to feel anxious just like Madeleine about the uncovering of her relationship.

Like her, we are also left with silence which teaches us to notice everyday sounds — the smack of lipstick on lips, the crinkle of a bow being untied, the creak of chairs, the jingle of keys in a lock, the rustle of leaves in the wind, the crows of ravens. Being privy to Nina and Madeleine’s secret relationship, the silence declutters our viewing, allowing us to notice the subtle expressions of intimacy between the pair, from dancing barefoot to the smile that they greet each other with across the hallway. Close-up shots of the two of them basked in golden light give us the impression that they are entirely alone with one another, even on a crowded dancefloor or bustling French boulevard.

Yet, time is ticking literally and metaphorically in this film, and the reoccurring chime of the clock on the mantlepiece does not let the audience forget. Like the magic in Cinderella which vanishes at midnight, the film reminds us that our time with others is limited. In many ways, Nina and Madeleine’s love is a naive, hopeless love, or “fleur bleue”. The time they spend together lacks the urgency that comes from knowing they do not have forever. Realising that their days are numbered following Madeleine’s stroke leads Nina to make every effort to spend time with Madeleine. Yet, the extremes she goes to such as throwing bricks and smashing cars paint her as hysterical and do not quite ring true with her characterisation as assertive but measured.

The film shows us that the idyllic entanglement of lovers apart from the rest of the world suggested by the title is deceptive. Their relationship is complexly intertwined with the lives of Madeleine’s children, Frédéric and Anne, who believe that their mother’s one true love was their now-deceased father. The film cleverly draws parallels between the caring and — at times — condescending attitude of parents towards their children and adult children towards their elderly parents. Rather than a teen sitting their parents down to “come out”, it is Madeleine who gathers her adult children and grandson around the table. We see that her children are not necessarily intolerant of their mother’s sexuality, but that they are reluctant to accept that their mother’s true love was not their father and revise their idolised childhood memories. Anne refuses to open the door to Nina both literally and metaphorically as she is unwilling to revise her memory of the past.

The thoughtful exploration of complex relationships, beautiful cinematography and stellar acting make it unsurprising that the film received its fair share of accolades. Meneghetti won the César for the Best First Film, Sukowa and Chevallier shared the Best Actress Award and the film was France’s submission for the Best International Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards. Two of Us is a poignant reminder that love never gets old and to cherish loved ones which is why it is definitely worth a watch.

Emmanuelle Dunn Lewis is a student of French at the Australian National University.

Watch the film on SBS on demand

Christmas Cookies
A Recipe from Chef Thomas of the French Embassy

This Christmas, treat yourself to some delicious choc chip cookies with this easy recipe courtesy of chef Thomas of the French embassy in Australia.
Practice your French by following the recipe in French!

 

In English

Ingredients:

Recipe:

Pre-heat fan-forced oven to 180°.

Mix the softened butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer, then slowly add the vanilla extract, followed by the eggs.

Next, add the flour and salt to the mix, followed by the baking powder and chocolate chips.

Once all ingredients combined, make balls of about 30 g using an ice cream scoop and bake for 7-10 minutes until cooked but still soft.


In French

Ingrédients:

Recette:

Dans le batteur à la feuille, mélanger le beurre pommade avec le sucre semoule, la cassonade, ajouter la vanille puis les œufs successivement. 

Verser alors la farine tamisée avec le sel et la levure chimique et enfin les drops chocolat.

Dresser des boules d’environ 30 gr, à l’aide d’une cuillère à glace et cuire au four ventilé à 180 degrés, pendant environ 7/10 minutes.

Les cookies doivent sortir du four encore bien moelleux.

Sacreblue! x SBS
The Christmas Selection

Every month, Sacreblue! highlights some Francophone films from the SBS catalogue.
These movies will be available for the whole month for free on SBS On Demand!

Here is our Christmas selection, enjoy feel-good movies to get into the festive holiday period.

Roxane (2019)

Director: Mélanie Auffret

Cast: Guillaume de Tonquedec, Léa Drucker, Lionel Abelanski, Kate Duchene, Liliane Rovère, Michel Jonasz, Jean-Yves Lafesse, Philippine Martinot, Herve Mahieux, Vinciane Amilhon, Baptista Perais, Sacha Bejaoui

A chicken farmer from Bittany is forced into bankruptcy by large corporations and tries to save his farm by creating a buzz on the internet using his hens.
He creates YouTube videos reciting excerpts from Cyrano de Bergerac to his hens featuring a particular hen named Roxane.

Roxane (2019) was selected as part of the 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival (AF FFF)  and the 2019 Festival de l’Alpe d’Huez.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.

 

Madame (2017)

Director: Amanda Sthers

Cast: Toni Collette, Harvey Keitel, Rossy de Palma, Michael Smiley, Tom Hughes, Violaine Gillibert, Stanislas Merhar, Sue Cann

The film features Australian actress Toni Collette and follows a wealthy American couple prepare a luxurious dinner at their Parisian manor house. To avoid an unlucky number, they ask their loyal maid to masquerade as a wealthy Spanish heiress.

Selected as part of the Festival du film de Sydney 2017 and the Festival du film de Zurich 2017.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.

 

Little Nicolas on Holiday (2014)

Director: Laurent Tirard
Cast: Valérie Lemercier, Kad Merad, Francis Perrin, François Damiens, Luca Zingaretti, François-Xavier Demaison, Bouli Lanners, Daniel Prévost, Bruno Lochet, Fabienne Galula, Mathéo Boisselier, Erja Malatier

Nicolas goes on holiday with his family to the beach, and they stay in the Beau-Rivage hotel. Nicolas has fun making new friends and planning lots of adventures with them.
The film is based on the novel and characters created by René Goscinny et Jean-Jacques Sempé.

Watch it on SBS on Demand here.

Huppert, hashish, and a side hustle
in La Daronne (2020)

Film critique by Xiao Marshall-Taylor

La Daronne (English: The Godmother, Mama Weed) follows Patience Portefeux (Isabelle Huppert) as she translates wiretaps from Arabic to French for the Paris police narcotics department whilst also masquerading as a drug dealer. That may seem like an absurd proposition, however it is made possible through Huppert’s seamless acting, a sincere screenplay, and an ensemble of strong characters. Whilst The Godmother is based on Hannelore Cayre’s acclaimed novel of the same name, Cayre co-wrote the screenplay along with director Jean-Paul Salomé and his son. The Godmother is whimsical, imaginative, and comedic, all the ingredients needed to make a successful film.

What is refreshing about The Godmother is seeing a woman work both sides of the law to her financial advantage. Viewers may not agree with what Patience is doing, but her wit, gut, and perseverance is undeniable. Throwing caution to the wind, Patience disregards any ethical concerns or boundaries related to her work in order to survive and support her mother and two daughters. She is not the only strong female in the film. Kadidja (Farida Ouchani), the mother of a les go-fasts driver (the method of transporting drugs in ordinary vehicles at high speed) whose words Patience regularly translates for the police, forms a bond with the translator over their drive to protect their children at any cost. We also meet Colette (Jade Nadja Nguyen), Patience’s Chinese landlady who presides over an underworld of her own but seeks to protect her family and property. Exploring the themes of motherhood and survival, the film gives us the rare chance to witness three women from diverse backgrounds, classes, and races come together to challenge the system.

Focusing on Huppert’s character however, we are not only presented with an empowered woman but also a woman in search of her own identity and purpose. The photograph of a younger Patience seated in her father’s boat combined with her self-reflections in a mirror are representative of the protagonist’s internal struggle. This is a struggle between her earliest memories as a child, recollections of her father and the complexity of her present situation.

Patience’s double life is further complicated given the male-dominated field she works in and the cliché of having a romantic relationship with her boss (Hippolyte Girardot). This particular storyline feels forced, almost unnecessary, since Patience demonstrates that she can successfully have a career, raise two daughters, and manage a side hustle. It is due to her expertise and competence that Patience always holds the upper hand in dealings with two younger drug dealers, Scotch (Rachid Guellaz) and Chocapic (Mourad Boudaoud) – creating a satisfying dynamic for audiences. From her bright red fingernails finger walking to demonstrate how they should be moving like ants, to purposeful, calculated movements in the street wearing a hijab and oversized sunglasses – Huppert’s acting is reason enough to watch this film.

It is interesting to note that around the time of The Godmother’s release in 2020, France underwent various reforms concerning the possession, usage, and sale of cannabis. The Godmother questions the war on drugs, who its victims are and why it is being fought. The film subsequently hints that a disengagement from authorities can occur after the prohibition of drugs. As Colette explains to Patience in the aftermath of a shooting, why call the police when her community can deal with the fallout? Salomé further highlights a modern Paris by blending Muslim, Chinese and French origins and culture. Whilst some may question the way in which a white woman dresses and adopts a headscarf-wearing drug-lord persona, the film serves as a basis for larger discussions surrounding the roots of drug sale and usage, and the power structures that exist between minority and majority groups.

To really enjoy The Godmother, it’s necessary to consider what’s going on beneath the surface. From thrilling, intense chase scenes to comedic moments to showcasing courageous women and addressing contemporary political and social issues, this film has something for everyone. It is difficult not to smile at Patience’s one-sided conversations with her dog or not to appreciate Huppert’s energetic performance. The Godmother ultimately reminds us that we cannot change who we are; we must accept it, and for that the film is compelling.

End of Year French Markets and Festivals

This end of year, there will be plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in French culture all whilst remaining in the country!
Read on to discover the end of year French markets and festivals happening around the country from end of October – December.

 

 

Geelong French Festival | Saturday 29 – Sunday 30 October

Location: The Heights Heritage House & Gardens 140 Aphrasia St, Newtown VIC 3220
Organised by l’Alliance Française de Geelong in Partnership with the National Trust Australia (Victoria)

Inspired by all things French, Le Festival Français is a celebration of the food, wine, language and above all, the culture of France.

This two-day weekend event is an opportunity to soak up the sights, sounds and atmosphere and experience la belle vie in one of the region’s most picturesque settings.

More info/tickets

 

La Grande Fête de Telopea | Saturday 5 November

Location: Telopea Park School, 25 New South Wales Cres, Barton ACT 2600
Organised by Telopea Park School

Go on a trip to France… without leaving Canberra! Telopea Park School’s La Grande Fête is one of the largest public school fêtes in the ACT, there’s something for everyone—including delicious food, carnival rides, the annual Canberra French Car Clubs display, live entertainment, clothing, books and market stalls.

Pre-purchase your Durkins Carnival Rides tickets for $25 ($30 on the day)! Your ticket lets you ride all day on the Super Cha, Dodgem Cars, Giant Slide, Cup and Saucer, and Disco Show!

 

Le French Market de Killarney Heights | Sunday 6 November

Location: Killarney Heights Public School, 10 Tralee Ave, Killarney Heights NSW 2087
Organised by FANS –  the French speaking Association of the North Shore & Killarney Heights Public School

From a small local school party attended by the nearby community, to an iconic event welcoming nearly 10,000 visitors at the last edition, the French Market is recognised as the French cultural celebration bringing people together from all over Sydney and beyond; this is one of the biggest French cultural highlights in New South Wales. This year will be the 16th edition of the French Market.

More info / tickets

 

The French Market by the AF Canberra | Saturday 19 November

Location: Alliance Française de Canberra, 66 McCaughey St, Turner ACT 2612
Organised by l’Alliance Française de Canberra

From 10am to 4pm, discover more than 30 stalls at the Alliance Francaise of Canberra in Turner, for a touch of French culture, food and drinks, all while supporting local Australian businesses! Enjoy a picnic area to taste one of the many delicious foods and have a drink, try out our new pétanque field, enjoy some outdoor live music, and let your children have fun with special activities just for them!

More info / tickets

 

Le Festival’s French Christmas Market | Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th November 

Location: West Village, 97 Boundary street, Brisbane QLD
Organised by West Village & Le Festival

Le Festival is on its way back for another wonderful celebration – the Le Festival’s French Christmas Market is coming back for a second round! From Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th November 2022, we will transform the grounds of West Village into a magical French Marché de Noël illuminated in festive bleu-blanc-rouge!

Bringing French culture from around Brisbane and southeast Queensland together in one place, this market will showcase local, unique French-inspired talents – with a festive French touch. You can expect an array of specially selected stalls offering creations, products, and services that have a French connection – including a diverse range of artists and artisans, as well as a French bar, a dedicated Merchandise stall, an exciting raffle, French festive melodies, and more!

More info / tickets

 

Alliance Française French Christmas Market | Friday 25 – Saturday 26 November

Location:  Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens, Unley Rd & Thomas St, Unley SA 5061
Organised by l’Alliance Française d’Adélaïde

When France is just too far away, head to Adelaide for a taste of all things French! Bring along friends and family to enjoy the French ambiance and discover the fantastic French food and drink, plus French-inspired products, gifts and entertainment at the French Market.

More info / tickets

 

French Fest at Taren Point Public School | Saturday 26th November

Location: Taren Point Public School, 93 Woodlands Rd, Taren Point NSW 2229
Organised by La Belle Vie

La Belle Vie are the proud hosts of the annual La Belle Vie French Market in May and the French Fest in November, organised in support of the French language programs at Taren Point Public School and a community partnership with the Francophone Association of Southern Sydney (FASS).

Head to the French Fest for a fabulous French music concert with French food and beverages. French Fest is a family-friendly event open to all ages.
Enjoy a day of musique, picnic, fantastique! 

More info / tickets

 

 

ChampagneDay 2022: how well do you know champagne? Plus champagne recommendations

It’s Champagne Day 2022 so we’re sharing with you information about the different types and styles of champagne as well as which big house champagnes and grower champagnes are recommended by French wine importers and champagne experts in Australia for ChampagneDay 2021.

 

DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHAMPAGNE

There are a few ways that champagnes can be distinguished from one another. Such as by:

  • the grapes used and whether from a particular year or many years
  • reference to the sweetness – you may have seen “brut” on a bottle before.
  • a two letter code that you’ll often find on the front of a bottle (unless the bottle has been completely relabelled for the Australian market)

 

The grapes used

There are 3 main grape varietals used in the making of champagne:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Meunier


4 others are also permitted to be used but rarely are:

  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Meslier
  • Arbane

 

You can get an idea of which grapes have been used from the following wording:

  • Blanc de Blancs (literally means white from whites) is 100% chardonnay grapes
  • Blanc de Noirs (is a white champagne made from black grapes,  Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • Rosé (this will be made either by mixing red wine and white wine or via the saignée method (where the colour bleeds from the grapes)

 

Dosage/sweetness

Another way to distinguish between champagnes is by the amount of sugar added to them (called the dosage).


Brut nature (also sometimes called Brut Zéro) is the driest of champagnes with no sugar added at all. Doux is the other end of the scale and is the sweetest of all the champagnes with more than 50 grams of sugar per litre.

 

The dry to sweetness scale is as follows:

  • Brut Nature/Brut Zéro has no sugar added;
  • Extra Brut has between 0 and 6 grams of sugar per litre
  • Brut – the most popular, and probably most commonly found, style of champagne has less than 12 grams per litre
  • Extra Dry despite its slightly confusing name actually sits in the middle of the 7 point scale and 12- 17 grams of sugar per litre is allowed
  • Dry is probably actually more accurately called medium sweet as it has 17-32 grams per litre
  • Demi-sec (which means half dry in French) is a very sweet champagne, more likely to be drunk with dessert at 33-50 grams per litre
  • Doux is the sweetest of all the champagnes with more than 50 grams per litre permitted.

 

Other types of champagne

Some other words that you may see on a bottle can often explain the price difference between champagnes from the same brand:

  • Non-vintage: grapes from different years blended together
  • Vintage: made only from grapes from a particular year, which will be marked on the bottle
  • Prestige Cuvée: the premium product of a champagne range

 

Who made the champagne

Two little letters often on the front label of a champagne bottle tell you a lot about who made the champagne:

  • NM : Négociant manipulant. A person or legal entity that buys grapes, grape must or wine to make Champagne on their own premises and market it under their own label. All of the big Champagne Houses belong in this category.
  • RM : Récoltant manipulant. A grower who makes and markets Champagne under their own label, from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards and processed on their own premises.
  • RC : Récoltant-coopérateur. A cooperative-grower who markets co-op produced Champagne under their own label.
  • CM : Coopérative de manipulation. A wine co-op that markets Champagne made from members’ grapes.
  • SR : Société de Récoltants. A family firm of growers that makes and markets Champagne under its own label, using grapes sourced from family vineyards.
  • ND : Négociant distributeur. A distributor who buys in finished bottles of Champagne for labelling on their own premises.
  • MA : Marque d’Acheteur. An ‘own brand’ wine label produced exclusively for one client (supermarket, celebrity or other).

 

CHAMPAGNE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHAMPAGNEDAY 2021

We asked French wine importers and champagne experts in Australia to recommend big house champagnes (NM champagnes) and grower champagnes (RM champagnes) for ChampagneDay 2021. Find out their recommendations below.

 

Popsy & JJ

SPECIAL OFFER: Receive 20% off Charles Mignon bubbles until Sunday 31st October 2021 at 11.59 pm when you use the code MATILDA20%OFFBUBBLES


JJ from Popsy & JJ recommends grower champagne Charles Mignon Premium Reserve Brut Champagne NV to celebrate ChampagneDay 2021.

 

This wine is a super prestigious Champagne that has been given top honours among the upper most echelon of Champagne Houses! It has won over 150 awards and medals!! It is also a truly artisan house that only produces 300,000 bottles per year compared to the big makers who are making over 10 million a years! It is now overseen by the current generation of the Mignon family, Guillaume and Manon, who as kids ran through the vineyards and played hide and seek in the cellars.

 

So, what’s in the bottle? Immediately on pouring it you notice the incredibly fine bead which leads to a luxuriously creamy mouth feel. On the nose is apple, pear and a hint of stone fruit. On the palate is another blast of pear, some citrus notes and a trace of brioche. The acid leads to a fantastic burst but is kept in check by the perfect balance of sweetness and fine bead. It is a super finessey style only the finest Champagne Houses seem to be able to muster. Nothing in your face about this. We tasted dozens and dozens of Champagnes and although we wanted to bring you back a couple, the Charles Mignon was just such a standout that it was all we needed! Don’t miss out on this rare glimpse into the artisan, historic world of French Champagne.

 

A few Popsy & JJ tips …we used flutes in our video review, but you could certainly throw it in a nouveau style of champers glass if you’re feeling posh. This one could sit in the cellar for a few years but that won’t happen at our houses! With all its finesse, we matched it with fresh natural Sydney rock oysters with Tetsuya dressing on the side. What more could you need in life?!

 

Clos Cachet

Champagne Dehours – Grand Reserve NV as a grower champagne (Clos Cachet doesn’t stock house champagnes) for ChampagneDay 2021.

 

Why?

This cuvée is extra aged on lees and reveals the character of Pinot Meunier grapes wonderfully. It’s dominant use of Pinot Meunier sets it apart from most other Domaines of the Champagne region. With Domaine Dehours being located in the Marne Valley, the meunier grape is suited to this cooler area of Champagne and with Jérome championing the diversity of his terroirs through producing single vineyard cuvées this Grand Reserve is a top quality grower champagne.

 

The palate is vibrant and jolly, featuring apple pie, white and yellow stone fruit, cinnamon and vanilla spice. The dynamic mouthfeel and bubbles are silky smooth with delicious minerals lingering on the finish.

 

What are the differences between the grower champagne you’ve chosen and champagne house champagne (apart from the fact that it is a grower champagne)? Taste, bubbles, dosage?

Domaine Dehours is a part of les Artisans du Champagne, a class of 17 Domaines, who have come together through their common principles of sharing, respect, high standards, passion, and freedom. This group does not focus on setting guidelines and a single way of creating sparkling wine, rather they work to complement each other’s creations and adapt to the changing eco-system together. This is a focus not common with house champagne. Therefore, the character, the depth of complexity in this Champagne is truly unique.

 

What would you marry it with?

I would pair this wine with aperitif-based foods like charcuterie and cheese, deep fried snacks, salmon and prawns.

 

David Donald Champagnes

David Donald has taken a different approach for ChampagneDay 2021 and will be celebrating with Champagne’s only indigenous variety, ‘Meunier’.

 

There has been a groundswell of young producers who are championing the variety to re-establish its noble reputation. It’s an essential component in many big house brands as it provides the flesh, body, and textural element in any blend. Pol Roger, Piper-Heidsieck and Moet use a high proportion in their blends and even the exalted Krug are great believers in how important the addition is to their ‘Grande Cuvée’.

 

Although 100% Meunier cuvees are relatively rare, the beauty of the best grower examples is that they showcase the variety and unique terroir of the producer.

 

Champagne Salmon 100% Meunier Brut NV

Salmon are Meunier specialists, and this is a great example. Bright and fleshy with tropical nuances, candied white fruits and honey with a mineral, savoury finish. Textural, complex, pure, and persistent. 

 

Some critics have suggested that Meunier doesn’t have the ability to age. However, the last time I visited the estate, I shared a bottle of the 1976 Meunier with third generation winemaker Alexandre Salmon, which was still incredibly vibrant and fresh. If you haven’t discovered Meunier in its purest form, here is the place to start.

 

Dosage is 7gms/ltr, combined with the palate weight and richness, it could be served as an aperitif right through to the main course. I served this with roast pork belly recently and the match was sublime!

 

Effervescence

Amanda Reboul from Effervescence shares her recommendations for ChampagneDay 2021.

 

Négociant manipulant champagne (big champagne house champagne)

The big house champagnes play such an important role in promoting the drink and the region on the world scale. However, they only own about 10% of the land in the region, so must buy up grapes from small growers in order to have the volume they require. As a result of getting grapes from across all the different growing areas, they tend to focus on having a house style with their NV champagne that is always consistent. As with any luxury product, there are some people who adore a particular label and are happy to be seen drinking a certain brand.

 

Some of my Amanda’s favourite Houses that she recommends for ChampagneDay 2021:

  • Moët & Chandon – elegant and fresh. Great with oysters and  beluga caviar
  • Bollinger – full bodied, yet elegant. Pairs well with truffles and duck
  • Canard-Duchene – the elegance of Pinot Noir. Pairs beautifully with scallops in butter and sage
  • Mumm – because who doesn’t love their Mum! A lighter style that is such a great party starter.

Grower champagne

Grower champagnes are, as the name suggests, made by individual growers from grapes that are grown on their own land. They do not buy grapes from other people. Interestingly, the growers own 90% of the land in Champagne, but only represent 10% of the market.

 

The interesting thing about growers is because their grapes come from their own land, they are much more an expression of the individual terroir of each grower, and can vary from year to year due to climate and growing conditions. If a particular grower is situated in an area that is well known for Pinot Noir, then their standard NV cuvée will reflect those characteristics.

 

The four main growing regions and the grapes that they are best suited to are:

  • Montagne de Reims – Pinot Noir
  • Vallee de la Marne – Meunier
  • Cote des Blancs – Chardonnay
  • Aube – pinot noir

 

Some of my favourite growers from each region are:

  • Montagne de Reims – Dumenil
  • Vallee de la Marne – Champagne Salmon
  • Cotes des Blancs – Veuve Fourny et Fils
  • Aube – Laurenti

 

Kaaren Palmer

Kaaren Palmer, Dame-Chevalier des Côteaux de Champagne shares her knowledge and recommendations with us for ChampagneDay 2021.

 

(along the lines of Jacquesson) has that delightful combination of freshness from the base vintage and complexity from Roederer’s reserve wines which include wine from a solera which was commenced some years ago. I love it!

Serve with coffin bay oysters (amongst other treats).

 

 

 

Growers – hard to know where to start, I really have so many favourites.

One of my (many) favourite grower champagnes is Jacques Picard in Berru, north-east of Reims. They are really underrated for historical reasons.

 

East End Cellars in Adelaide have just started to import and distribute them.

 

Great reviews in Jancis Robinson’s tasting notes.

 

Single Vineyard Sellers

Annie Gasparre from Single Vineyard Sellers recommends Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blanc for ChampagneDay 2021, which is a co-operative champagne (CM) rather than a grower champagne. 

 

This champagne has suggestions of delicately fresh citron, star anise, iodine and lemon core on the nose. Swirling reveals fruity notes of pear, white peach, fresh grape, grapefruit and rhubarb. Point of entry on the palate is clean and fresh with creamy, soft effervescence. The palate is fleshy and crisp with minerality that is both limestone and sandy and imparts honesty, salinity and length. The finish is suffused with lemon and adds wonderfully concentrated, fleshy and deliciously saline drive.

 

What would you serve with it?

This pairs nicely with rich fish, such as salmon, tuna etc. Also with shellfish. For those that are not a fan of seafood, soft cheese, or pork.

 

For a grower champagne for ChampagneDay 2021, Annie recommends a champagne that Single Vineyards Sellers does not sell which is Jerome Prevost La Closerie Les Beguines

 

This is a unique wine, using close to 100% Pinot Meunier, although now there is a very small amount of 10 year old Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc which were planted next to the Pinot Meunier parcel. The soil is calcareous sand, layered over clay, over calcareous sand. The vineyard is organic, natural. Fruit is picked ripe and vinified using barrels for 10 months. With age these wines only get better. This is very different to the Blanc de Blancs, with a similar price. 

 

What would you marry it with?

This would also go well with similar food to Jacquart Blanc de Blanc – salmon, shellfish, pork etc

 

The Bubbles Review

Natalie from The Bubbles Review recommends two champagnes that were featured at The Bubbles Festivals for ChampagneDay 2021. Rather than recommending champagne from one of the big houses and a grower champagne (many of these are out of stock around Australia), Natalie has recommended an MA (buyer’s or marketing brand) and a CM (a co-op champagne).

 

Champagne Royal Riviera Cuvee Brut Supreme I’ve recently done a virtual tasting on our Facebook page with this champagne. I describe it as a lifestyle or party champagne. It is a different category to a Negociant (NM) as an MA which translates to a buyers or marketing brand.  

 

The name Royal Riviera has been licenced by the creators to promote the fun and frivolity of the French Riviera. In saying that, this is still a serious champagne. Made in Epernay, it is a blend of Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 40%, Pinot Meunier 10% from Grand Cru and Premier Cru parcels. It is in the Brut range, a non-vintage as it is made from 100% reserve wines. A traditional champagne, perfectly balanced to create an easy drinking style. Which is perfect for a party! 

 

Predominantly Pinot Noir and aging on lees, this wine is very playful on the palate. Mellow tannin swirls enable the elegant mousse to open to its full potential, creating fullness in the cheeks. The second-generation notes are complemented by freshness and soft effervescence achieved by blending Chardonnay from exceptional Grand Cru villages. 

 

The structure and integrity of the Chardonnay offers robustness and vigour, whilst arousing a pleasantly elegant floral bouquet. The true style of this complex and well-balanced wine is completed by a touch of Pinot Meunier to engage the fruitiness and development of the wine. It has been aged for 5-7 years on lees with a dosage of 9 gms.

 

The balance of grape varieties in this champagne allows for effortless food pairing with most, if not all, dishes. It is a champagne that will take you from “caviar to cupcakes”. 

 

Royal Riviera proudly celebrates the style of Monte Carlo and the French Riviera. 

Women Wine and Spirit Awards – London 2020 – Double Gold
Glass of bubbly awards 2019 – Gold – First date category

 

NOTE: This is the same champagne recommended by Single Vineyard Sellers above.

Natalie says:

This one is not a grower champagne, but a ‘growers’ champagne. Coming from the same group of one of the original co-operatives. A co-op champagne (CM) is owned by the growers and has access to many of the Grand Cru and Premier Cru regions of Champagne. This champagne was our VIP tasting at The Bubbles Festival Sydney. In some other locations we tasted the 2012 vintage, which was delightful as well, but has now sold out with the importer, but if you are lucky you may still find some stocks on the shelves at Vintage Cellars. 

 

The 2013 Vintage Blanc de Blancs is also delightful, a characterful Champagne encapsulating the youthful fruitiness of the year with all the vibrant minerality of Chardonnay Grand Crus. What I particularly enjoyed about this wine was the creaminess, cut through by the delicate fruit notes and minerality on the palate. The colour is an enticing lemon-yellow hue with pale silvery yellow tints, with fine, lively bubbles. The nose recalls mineral aromas of chalk, sugar coated liquorice entwined with blanched almonds, lemon peel and fresh grape on first pour. Airing adds refinement with delicate aromas of acacia, freesia and notes of verbena infusion lifted by Granny Smith apple and crushed pear. 

 

The palate is supple and fresh at point of entry with creamy, soft effervescence. The Champagne develops luscious fruit-forward weight underscored by a faint zesty acidity suffused with lemon. The mid-palate revolves around chalky minerality which imparts salinity, honesty and length. A seamless fusion of rich minerality and fruity freshness typical of the vintage characterises the whole. Carefully judged dosage of 7gms creates an appealing, creamy sensation on the finish which extends to a beautiful long length.

 

This Blanc de Blancs is a blend from the Grand Cru Chardonnay regions of 40% Avize, 35% Chouilly, 15% Cramant, 10% Oger. It has been aged on lees for around 6 years. This was delightful drinking now, and could easily be aged for another 5 to 10 years. 

 

Food pairing suggestions from the winemakers are Scallops – Roasted with white butter, liquorice and chervil; Cod fillet – Tartare of oysters and mashed potatoes with Yuzu butter; Veal tartare – Cockles, clams and cumquat. It also works perfectly on its own as an aperitif.

 

Vine & Bubble magazine

Sara Underdown from Vine & Bubble magazine shares her big house and grower champagne recommendations for ChampagneDay 2021.

 

Which négociant manipulant champagne do you recommend for #champagneday and why? I think it’s apt to choose any champagne produced by one of the great Grandes Marques. Each have forged a path of remarkable endurance and quality, and therefore a legacy, for the region. Take your pick from Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Pol Roger, Lanson or Louis Roederer. There are others too, but these producers are among my favourites. Personally, I will celebrate with a bottle of Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2013.

 

What would you serve with it? Seared scallops, champagne sage butter, capers.

 

Grower champagne

Which grower champagne would you recommend for ChampagneDay 2021 and why? Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Special Club Cramant Grand Cru

 

What are the differences between the grower champagne you’ve chosen and the champagne house champagne (apart from the fact that it is a grower champagne)? Taste, bubbles, dosage? Both are made exclusively from chardonnay taken from grand cru fruit in the Cote des Blancs, though Pierre Gimonnet is single-village (Cramant) and Pol Roger sources from Oiry, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil.  The Special Club Cramant has a lovely silky, airy elegance and rainwater like purity whereas Pol Roger’s blanc de blancs  is more opulent with pastries, white flowers and zesty freshness.

 

What would you marry it with? Confit chicken in a light lemon sauce.

Which style of champagne do you like? Sweeter? Dryer? What’s your favourite champagne to drink? 

Happy ChampagneDay 2022!

Annie Ernaux, French feminist who uses language as ‘a knife’,
wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Article written by Véronique Duché | A. R. Chisholm Professor of French at the University of Melbourne

 

 

Annie Ernaux was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on October 6. The 82-year-old writer, whose sociological autofiction and memoir is influenced by Simone de Beauvoir and Pierre Bourdieu, is the first French woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since the founding of the awards in 1901. Ernaux also becomes the 17th woman (among 119 Nobel Prize Laureates) to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

This follows her 2019 shortlisting for the Man Booker International Prize for Literature, for The Years (translated by Alison Strayer, originally published in 2008), a personal narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 – acclaimed in France as a modern In Search of Lost Time.

Considered the mother of contemporary sociological autofiction, Ernaux claims to write “something between literature, sociology and history”. To write “life”, she uses language as “a knife”. Her short, sparse, unlyrical, minimalist writing is wielded as a sharp weapon.


Read more: When the fabricated lives of French authors are just as gripping as the books they write


Voice of freedom

Her Nobel win is not a surprise. In 2021, she was widely named as a favourite to win the prestigious award. A fake Twitter account created by an Italian writer, Tommaso Debenedetti, had even announced her win in 2021 – a hoax that misled many. And in the days leading up to her award, online bookmakers ranked her as a favourite.

French president Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Ernaux as the voice of “the freedom of women and the forgotten [people] of the century”. He tweeted: “Annie Ernaux has been writing the novel of the collective and intimate memory of our country for 50 years.”

a selection of Annie Ernaux books
Annie Ernaux is the author of 24 books. Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

Born Annie Duchesne in 1940 in Normandie, Ernaux grew up working-class in a small town, Yvetot, where her parents ran a café–grocery shop. Her mother wanted the best education for her and pushed her to study. Ernaux was destined to become a teacher; she taught literature. She married into a bourgeois(middle-class) family. Her work explores her break with the world she grew up in, as she acquired cultural capital.

Building on the raw material of her diaries, Ernaux’s work reflects on her social trajectory, developing the ideas of “class betrayal” and “social shame”. She excavates how constant self-monitoring (for example, of language), for fear of being stigmatised, can create permanent feelings of social and cultural insecurity. She never spares her parents – nor herself.

Her books provide a mirror to readers who have experienced the same social gap, allowing them to (re)compose their personal and social identity. Her style is labelled “écriture blanche” (which literally translates as “white language”) – a language that doesn’t betray any social trend.

While Ernaux’s books draw on her own experience, sensations and emotions, her stories are never just her own. Her individual experiences represent collective ones – as Macron acknowledged after her win. She’s the author of 24 books, including 18 published in the prestigious Collection Blanche from French publisher house Gallimard.

The Swedish Academy praised her for “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.”


Read more: Friday essay: ‘with men I feel like a very sharp, glittering blade’ – when 5 liberated women spoke the truth


Unbelonging and obscenity

Ernaux made her literary debut in 1974 with a hard-hitting book, Cleaned Out, a fictionalised account of her own illegal abortion. The opening pages present the narrator, Denise Lesur, waiting in her university room for the outcome of her abortion.

As she wonders how all this happened, she retraces her journey through her rather happy childhood in a regional small town, her brilliant schooling and her entrance to university. Denise is actively supported by an ambitious mother who seeks social advancement for her – but she has the growing feeling of not belonging, of being an outsider.

A Frozen Woman (1981) builds on the same experience, but enlarges the scope to include marriage and maternity. The narrator marries into a bourgeois family; however, the bourgeoisieproves to be conservative and conformist. Marriage leads to domestic subjugation, which the narrator strongly denounces.

The following books, less violent in tone, elaborate on her parents. A Man’s Place (1984), for which Ernaux was awarded the prestigious Prix Renaudot, is dedicated to her working-class father. Ernaux paints his portrait in a series of subtle touches: poverty and a rough life, a move from the countryside to the city, the semi-success of his small business.

A Woman’s Story (1988) traces the different faces and life of her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, while exploring her own ambivalence towards her.

Two further books complicate this parental diptych. The first lines of Shame (1997), read as an echo of Camus’s The Outsider: “My father tried to kill my mother one Sunday in June, in the early afternoon.” I Remain in Darkness (1997) expands on her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and reflects on her death. It’s the work of a grieving daughter; the title is the last sentence her mother wrote. This book is the diary Ernaux wrote, expressing her pain and emotions on the spot, after each visit to her mother in the aged care home where she died.

Ernaux went on to explore her formative years. She revisited her abortion, this time as memoir rather than fiction, in Happening(2000). She wrote about her abrupt entry into a sexual life, aged 18, in A Girl’s Story (2016). And about the family secret – the death of her sister before she was born – in L’Autre Fille (2011) (The Other Girl).

A critically acclaimed film of Happening, directed by Audrey Diwan, won the Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, and premiered at the Alliance Française French Film Festival this year.

The film adaptation of Happening has been critically acclaimed.

In other books, she investigates sexual addiction, desire and its satisfaction. Two narrate a short liaison with A., a Russian man: Simple Passion (1992) – adapted for a 2021 film directed by Danielle Arbid – and Getting Lost (2001). Simple Passion begins with Ernaux reflecting on watching her first pornographic film. That’s how we should write, she concludes – we should aim for “this impression provoked by the scene of the sexual act, this anguish and stupor, a suspension of moral judgement”.

The Possession (2002) recounts the end of her liaison with W., and her experience of jealousy. And L’Usage de la photo (The Uses of Photography), co-authored with Marc Marie, comments on 14 photographs taken by the co-authors, who are lovers. Ernaux’s most recent book, Le jeune homme (2022), recounts her relationship with a man 30 years younger than her.


Read more: Intellectual fearlessness, politics and the spiritual impulse: the remarkable career of Amanda Lohrey


Ernaux has sometimes been branded an obscene author – sexual obscenity adding to the social obscenity of being a “class defector”. She disrupts literary hierarchies, and deliberately writes “below literature” by delving into subjects that might have been considered unworthy of literature (such as abortion, masturbation, new suburbs, or supermarkets).

Regarde les lumières mon amour (2014), for instance, offers a diary of the time she spent in her local Auchan hypermarket. The Years, considered her masterpiece, offers a synthesis, where she “put[s] the world in words”. By referring to objects, words, songs and television programs, over a span of 65 years – combined with notes from her diaries – she captures a truth of her time. “It is both the story of my life and that of thousands of women who were also in search of freedom and emancipation,” she told Agence-France Press in May 2022.

Ernaux is a feminist, fed by Marxism, existentialism and phenomenology. She has enthusiastically observed the effects of the #metoo movement. “Women are no longer willing to let things happen to them,” she has said.

For Ernaux, writing is a political act. She says the Nobel prize is “a very great honour” but also “a great responsibility” – one she was given in order to bear witness, on behalf of “justice and righteousness”.

In May 2022, at the Cannes Film Festival, Ernaux presented Les Années Super 8, a film she co-directed with her son David Ernaux-Briot. It’s a delicate journey into the life of a French family, compiled from home movie images filmed from 1972 to 1981.

And it’s another way of entering Ernaux’s world – our world.

Five churches to visit in Paris while Notre Dame is being repaired

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is not scheduled to reopen to the public until 2024.
In the meantime, here are five other magnificent churches to visit on a trip to Paris.

 

Sainte-Chapelle

The church was built on the Île de la Cité on the orders of Louis IX to house the purported Crown of Thorns (later moved to Notre-Dame and, since the 2019 fire, held in the Louvre). High ribbed vaults are supported by slim columns, and overall building supports are via ring anchors, iron reinforcements and external buttresses. The lower chapel, with its many columns, was open to commoners to worship, while the upper chapel was exclusive to the Royal Family.

The chapel is famous for arguably the most beautiful stained-glass windows in the world, which filter the light through fifteen windows to divine, kaleidoscopic effects (recitals here are magical). The windows of the nave depict scenes from the Old Testament, while the eastern apse windows depict the New Testament. On the western wall is a large rose window with flamboyant tracery. Also look out for the scenes of the discovery of the relics of Christ being brought to Paris with King Louis IX on the west of the south windows. Epic and illuminating.

Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis

99 rue St. Antoine, 75004

www.spsl.fr 

Financed by Louis XIII, this Baroque church was built in the Marais between1627 and 1641. Breaking from the Gothic trend, it combined Roman and classical French architectural plans by Jesuit architects Étienne Martellange and François Derand. Architectural influences include the Gesù in Rome (the 1584 Jesuit church with similar but smaller side chapels and a single nave), and Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais (for the bays and columns on the façade), Italian Baroque (the dome above the crossing) and French Gothic style (the height of the dome at 55m/180ft). Cardinal Richelieu celebrated the first Mass here in 1641. Leave through the side exit to discover a cute cobblestoned laneway.

Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre

79 rue Galande, 75005

www.sjlpmelkites.com 

Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre is considered one of the oldest churches in Paris, built in 1165 but dating back even earlier in another form. It fuses Romanesque and early Gothic styles and houses a paving stone from the original Roman road from Lutetia (Paris) to Orléans. Intimate and peaceful, it is also a lovely place to just sit quietly or attend a piano recital. Since 1889 it has been an Eastern Catholic Melkite church.

Saint-Sulpice

2 rue Palatine, 75006

https://pss75.fr/saint-sulpice-paris/ 

In 1646 Anne of Austria laid the cornerstone of this beautiful parish church that was built for the field workers to plans by Christophe Gamard, and later by Daniel Gittard. Saint-Sulpice was built on the site of a thirteenth-century Romanesque church and is the second largest church in Paris, located close to the Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank. The floor

plan resembled Notre-Dame and flying buttresses support the choir. The theatrical elegance is in the façade, with two towers, a double portico and monumental classical columns by Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni (aka Jean-Nicolas Sevran), a Florenceborn architect, decorator and set designer whose father was French. His inspirations included St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Inside you’ll find original murals by Romantic master Eugène Delacroix, including ‘Jason Wrestling with the Angel’ and ‘Heliodorus Driven from the Temple’. The church featured in the 2003 film The Da Vinci Code.

Sacré-Coeur Basilica

35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018

www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com 

Perched majestically on top of the Montmartre hill is Paris’ most iconic and romantic architectural building, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. In Roman times, a temple for Mars and Mercury stood here, and when you visit you’ll understand why the spot is so special – at the highest point in Paris, it’s literally the closest place you can get to the planets, and to God. Not to mention the exceptionally inspiring vistas in all directions. 

Construction of Sacré-Coeur began in 1871 after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War the previous year. The Parisians were gloomy (or else drunk!) and the basilica was a symbol of repentance to God and of hope for a better future. Finance came from the faithful whose names are engraved in the walls.

The original architect was Paul Abadie, whose plans were inspired by a multi-domed seventeenth century Romanesque cathedral he had restored in the south of France, in Perigueux (Dordogne), Saint-Front, whose influences included Hagia Sofia in Constantinople/Instanbul (c.537), San Marco in Venice (consecrated in 832) and possibly India’s Taj Mahal.

The neo-romano-byzantine building has a square plan with four cupolas and a dome, while its most standout feature is the luminous white colour of the basilica created from the Château-Landon stones that naturally wash themselves and expel pollution when in contact with water. Other external features to look out for include a triple-arched portico, elegant equestrian bronze statues of French national saints Joan of Arc and King Louis IX, and the 19 tonne ‘Savoyarde’ bell that arrived in 1895 from Annecy, dragged by twenty-one horses. Inside, the floor plan is typical of a basilica in the shape of a Greek cross, with the dome sitting over the crossing. The choir loft is exceptionally large and features an awe-inspiring ceiling mosaic of Christ, to whom the basilica is dedicated. Luc-Olivier Merson’s all engulfing artwork depicts Christ, arms spread open and wearing a white robe through which glows a golden heart. The choice of blue and gold in the mosaic is one of the building’s Islamic architecture influences, as are the double domes and arcades of trefoil arches, as pointed out by Diana Darke in her book Stealing from the Saracens. The basilica was completed with several other architects such as Lucien Magne (1905-1916). While almost completed in 1914, it was not consecrated until 1919, as a result of the First World War. Climb the bell tower for an incredible panorama of Paris, but even from the steps in front there’s a terrific view, particularly spectacular at sunset.

 

Excerpt from The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris (Ruby Boukabou, White Owl Books) 

www.rubytv.net/books 

https://www.amazon.com.au/Architecture-Lovers-Guide-Paris-BOUKABOU/dp/1526779978