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Celebrating Marcel Pagnol: A Unique Homage from Prince Albert II

Gathered in the heart of the jardins du Trocadero, under the watchful gaze of the towering monuments, a national homage has unfolded . It was a poignant tribute to Marcel Pagnol, the esteemed French luminary of literature, marking half a century since his passing. The ceremonial proceedings, set against the backdrop of the square bearing his name, resonated with the enduring admiration Monaco holds for this literary titan.

Tribute from Prince Albert 

Embarking on his tribute, the Prince evoked poignant sentiments: “One belongs to one’s childhood as one belongs to one’s country.” These profound words, penned by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, find a poignant resonance in Pagnol’s narrative. A son of Provence, Pagnol’s essence was deeply rooted in his formative years, a sentiment echoed by the local schoolchildren’s readings.

Among the gathered throng in the jardins du Trocadero stood Professor Pascal Ory, from the venerable Académie française, where Pagnol’s presence once graced for 28 illustrious years. Delivering a stirring oration, Oryreminisced on his “colleague [who] left the warmest, most pleasant and most sympathetic memory.” 

Pagnol’s election to the Académie, amidst the unique backdrop of Liberation, underscored his literary prowess and congeniality, accompanied by that unmistakable southern charm.

Quoting François Mauriac’s poignant tribute, Oryencapsulated Pagnol’s artistic essence: “he seems to have slipped into this antechamber of eternity through the window.” Indeed, Pagnol’s artistry transcended mere success; it resonated deeply with the masses, endearing him not only as a celebrated author but as a cherished cultural icon.

The day’s festivities extended beyond mere remembrance, inaugurating a year-long celebration under the auspices of the Académie. A commemorative plaque, unveiled near the ancestral villa La Lestra, stood as a poignant reminder of Pagnol’s familial and literary legacy. Amidst the accolades, a somber note was struck as the Prince recounted the tragic disappearance of the little child Estelle, casting a shadow over the once-idyllic abode.

The bond between Pagnol and the Princes of Monaco was unmistakable, as Albert II eloquently conveyed, intertwining their legacies inextricably. The day culminated in a vibrant discourse at the Théâtre des Variétés, accompanied by the unveiling of a commemorative stamp, immortalizing Pagnol’s friendship with Prince Pierre.

La Femme du boulanger

A black and white projection tells a much-loved tale set in a beautiful town in the South of France. Villagers celebrate the day a baker decides to move to their town. Freshly baked bread is all that was missing in their idyllic lives. But celebrations are cut short when, on a warm summer evening, the baker’s much younger wife runs off with a handsome shepherd. The baker is heartbroken and can no longer bake. So the villagers assemble to bring the wife back to her husband so he can bake some more delicious bread for them. 
The film, ‘La Femme du boulanger’ (‘The Baker’s Wife’) was directed by Marcel Pagnol in 1938 and was screened on 16 April 2024 at Monaco’s Théâtre des Variétés. The screening was part of a special tribute evening celebrating the 50th anniversary of the director’s death.
As the curtains drew to a close, and the strains of “La femme du boulanger” filled the air, Monaco had paid homage in grandeur to a son of Provence. Pagnol’snarrative, steeped in the essence of olive trees, water, and bread, transcended geographical confines, resonating universally with hearts far and wide.

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