Your show “The Favorite Village of the French” is celebrating its tenth anniversary, how do you explain its success?
Just look at this place. The answer is very simple: the public has understood that happiness is in the villages and not in the cities, nor on their outskirts. Unquestionably the French love their village. A favorite village is a place where there are traditions, true values, beauty. It’s a place where you have to have the “wow effect” (sic). This is the case here.
In Ainhoa, when you enter the church you go wow. When you are in the chapel, facing the mountain, you go wow. In the main street, you go wow. Beyond aesthetics, we also attach great importance to the life of the place, to its local traditions. By dint of doing this show, I have understood that real happiness is in the villages. Especially if, as here, they associate an economic, social or even ecological dynamic.
What do you remember from your visit to Ainhoa?
It’s not specific to Ainhoa, but in all the villages of France I am captivated by the welcome of the inhabitants. Beyond that, it is this strong identity that transpires from the village, this desire to bring it to life and share it that appeals to me. It’s often very tasty or locavore, but it’s above all very dynamic with craftsmen and producers who want to discuss their passion and their problems, like in this pepper farm that I was able to visit. I like this village life where people know each other.
I was very surprised to see the cemetery open. Here, death is clearly part of life, more than elsewhere. Inaki Lascube shared it with me during this visit. My guide even gave me some rudiments of the Basque language and I tried my hand at the pala. I confess that I am not very good at it.
Did you know the Basque Country?
I know Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz above all, where I have filmed a few programs concerning the marriage of Louis XIV, the Arnaga villa in Cambo-les-Bains, for “The Favorite House of the French”, or even Sare, when the village applied for the show. For discovery, there is plenty to choose from in the Basque Country. I have a particular affection for these countries with a strong identity like yours, Corsica, Brittany or Alsace.
They say you are very creative. Do you have a new show planned?