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Our happy days: summer camp in Dordogne and Charente

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Our happy days in Charente

All of the animators and all of the children who have stayed at a camp have found themselves in this feature film by Toledano and Nakache. In 103 minutes, the future directors of Intouchables had identified all the issues at stake in holiday resorts: the overworked director, the lost suitcase, the animated rooms, the Olympics, the heartache, the animators always on the go and Caroline’s obscene cult phrases, the depressive.

It should be noted that the two directors met at summer camp when they were camp counsellors. Better still, they had worked together ten years earlier in the Château de la Couronne (16) during a summer stay. The main scenes of the film were shot in this beautiful building, which has now been converted into a hotel. The actors took possession of the premises to recreate the atmosphere of a holiday camp in the west of the commune of Marthon. Previously, Toledano and Nakache had shot a short film on the same theme entitled Ces jours heureux with Jean-Paul Rouve and Marylou Berry in the cast. Omar Sy, Julie Fournier, Guillaume Cyr and the wonderful Joséphine de Meaux for Nos jours heureux. The filming was light and playful because of the calm of the place. The small Charentaise town south-west of Montbron, in the Bandiat valley, is inhabited by only 554 inhabitants. In addition to the Château de la Couronne, visitors can discover a keep built in the 12th century and the Château-Neuf dating from the Renaissance.

Our Happy Days is also a feature film about father-son relationships. Not trusting Vincent in his management of the colony, Albert allows himself to come on site. At the beginning, a burden for the son, the father will prove to be a serious asset, especially during the visit of the veterinary services and the Regional Directorate of Youth and Sports. For Albert’s departure scene, the La Rochefoucauld railway station (16) was used as a backdrop. Commissioned in 1875 by the Compagnie des Charentes, it is no longer served by trains since March 2018. It is located on the line from Limoges-Benedictins to Angoulême. This building of the SNCF is established in this beautiful city of Charente whose symbol is its Renaissance castle built from 1520, nicknamed the Pearl of Angoumois. Visitors can also discover the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, the Carmelite Convent or the Church of Olérat. Note that a TV movie Tomorrow, I’m Getting Married was shot in this station in 2010.

Our happy days in the Dordogne

In the neighbouring department of the Dordogne (24), it is the communal castle of Varaignes which was used. It is in this 14th century medieval fortress in the heart of the Périgord-Limousin Regional Park that one of the cult scenes of the film takes place. The children and their leaders visit the Charentaise Museum. They’re no more than interested in textiles and how they’ve been made over the centuries. The floodgates are closing. In addition to the weavers, in the 16th century, the city was an important place in the field of iron and steel, thanks in particular to its many forges.

Between July and September 2006, Nos jours heureux reached a total of 1,430,000 viewers in theatres and 5,700,000 viewers in two broadcasts on M6 and W9 in 2011 and 2015. An important success for Toledano and Nakache, the film quickly became a cult film. If you want to enjoy the Perigordian and Charente sunshine and walk in the footsteps of Our Happy Days, take the time to visit Marthon and Varaignes, two very pretty little towns in New Aquitaine.

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By Anthony Thibault

Monday, January 7, 2019

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