French Movie Lures Travelers To Provence

Poster image for The Grocer's Son
The Grocer's Son

Destination: Provençe, France

Movie: The Grocer’s Son (Les Fils de l’epicier)(2008)

Some time ago, a reader recommended this movie, and it finally made it to the top of my Netflix list.  Thank you, whoever you were–stand up and take a bow for introducing The Grocer’s Son.

When I thought about why I enjoyed this movie, it became obvious that the director, Eric Guirado, did nothing extraordinary, but that made the movie delightful.

The movie explores family relationships–harsh father, two sons– one rebellious, one obedient, and a long-suffering mother. There are family secrets (mostly held by the obedient son). There is the familiar return of the prodigal as the younger son goes off to a city life, but with a family crisis, returns to the village to run the father’s business.

On top of the family story, a romance unfolds. Boy meets girl. boy loses girl. Girl comes back. (Okay, that’s a spoiler, but you KNEW she would, didn’t you?)

I think the very ordinariness of the film appealed to me.  Believable characters in a lush landscape.  As the young son, played by the very appealing Nicholas Cazalé, starts driving his father’s grocery truck to the even smaller settlements in the hills of Provençe, we meet the elderly customers. Clearly, these areas are dying as the inhabitants do not include young people. The elderly characters are interesting and so honest in their portrayals, that the film has the feel of a documentary at times.

And when I learned that the director’s background includes many documentaries, it all made sense.

I fell in love with the sheepherder who had lost his sheep and his wife; the old man who scammed the grocer by not “hearing” the price; the wrinkled face of the woman who pondered her purchases and then bought the same thing each time.

But always there are the twisting roads and the green hills. These people live far away from the usual tourist haunts of France.  The director, interviewed in the film’s press kit, claims that he removed the most beautiful scenes because they would have distracted from the story. Imagine that. Provençe is even more beautiful than portrayed. As I plan my trip to France, these images of Provençe will continue to call to me.

Have you been to Provence? Have you ventured out on the country roads? Should I detour from my plan of doing only the north–Normandy and Brittany?

Among my many posts on France: Madame Bovary, French WritersEssays by an American in France, Travels With a Donkey, Mistress of Louis IV

and many more, particularly about Paris. You can find them with the search box at the top right of this page.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

7 thoughts on “French Movie Lures Travelers To Provence

  1. I just love it when people like my suggestions. Please come back and let us know if you agree with me after you see it. And Mark, I must explain that Ken wants to go to Normandy for the WWII and the Viking history, and I want to go for the writers and painters who came from there. Brittany is because it is a less touristed part of the country. We don’t like to try to cover a whole country, but instead like to zero in on a smaller area.

  2. I haven’t seen this movie but I really enjoy French films and their ability to focus on believably normal families and the interactions between them. And on your travels – I think the south of France, especially Provence is well worthy of a visit. I personally rate it well ahead of Normandy and Brittany.
    .-= Mark H hopes you will read blog ..Photo of the Week: Grey Crowned Crane (Uganda) =-.

  3. I will watch this movie, too. Had not heard of it. We enjoyed The Class recently, about the new multi-racial France. I have not driven along many backroads in Provence recently. And, will have no opportunity to do so. I’ll order the movie from Netflix. That will be the extent of it, I’m afraid.
    .-= Alexandra hopes you will read blog ..Guest Post by Laura Kelley =-.

  4. Would love to see this movie- the way you described it made it sound like something I would enjoy. Movies with excellent landscapes and wonderful characters (as you described) appeal to me.

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