Top 6 film locations in Les demoiselles de Rochefort

Strolling through the streets of the maritime city in the footsteps of the Demoiselles de Rochefort is still possible. Jacques Demy modified certain aspects of the city and made it shine all over the world. If you have in mind "We are twin sisters" and "We travel from town to town"

Follow the tracks of the twins in rochefort

Here are six key locations in the film Les demoiselles de Rochefort, directed by Jacques Demy. A dream cast was assembled: Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve, Gene Kelly, Michel Piccoli, Jacques Perrin, Grover Dale, Goerge Chakiris and Danielle Darrieux.

Place Colbert

Many mythical scenes from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort were filmed on the Place Colbert in the city center. Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Françoise Dorléac) dance there during the fair on this square. They perform La chanson d’un jour d’été. As for Etienne (George Chakiris, actor in West Side Story) and Bill (Grover Dale), the two promoters, they are depressed after their dancers let them down. They ask the Demoiselles de Rochefort to replace them. The inhabitants of Rochefort see Andy (Gene Kelly) and Etienne performing on one of the two stages built in its center. Maxence (Jacques Perrin) even enters the bar run by Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux), the twins’ mother. To repaint the facades of the buildings on Place Colbert, 40,000 m2 of white paint was needed.

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The twins’ apartment

It is one of the most famous musical theatre songs in the world. As soon as you listen to La chanson des jumelles performed by Delphine Garnier (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange Garnier (Françoise Dorléac), you are carried away in a state of euphoria. This melody remains in my head. The twins practice and sing this jingle in this very chic apartment. It is in fact the Mayor’s office, located in the City Hall. It was built in 1770 for the naval officer Claude Marguerite François Renart de Furschamberg, then bought in 1804 to house the town hall.

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Boubou’s school

One of the most important scenes in the film is when Boubou (Patrick Jeantet) leaves school. The little brother of the twins, Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Françoise Dorléac), leaves the school with his friends. Andy (Gene Kelly) crosses Solange’s path in this street at the exit of the school. With the exception of the little brother of the two Garnier sisters, all the other children were chosen by Gene Kelly and by the director of Emile Zola School, Mrs. Perfetti. Twelve girls and twelve boys had to run noisily out of the school and back to their moms as fast as possible. The ground of the street Bazeilles (Quai aux vivres) was also redone to be more slippery at the request of Gene Kelly to be able to dance as easily as possible. Each sequence of the film was shot twice. One in French and the other in English for an international version that never saw the light of day.

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Lancien gallery

It is in the Lancien gallery, that Guillaume (Jacques Riberolles), a painter with a pistol in love with Delphine (Catherine Deneuve), sells contemporary paintings. In the film, this place is home to works around Pop-Art and Op Art. Jacques Demy, a lover of modern art, had a portrait of Delphine made in the manner of Bernard Buffet, as well as a Mobile by Calder. Today, 72 de la Fayette Avenue is no longer home to an art gallery.

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Monsieur Dame Store

In one scene, Solange Garnier (Françoise Dorléac) enters the music store of Monsieur Dame (Michel Piccoli) to buy sheet music. At present, Monsieur Dame’s store is located on the site of a covered market, Bourse du Commerce. In the 19th century, Mr. Rivalland opened a store in the place where the scenes of the feature film will be shot. Agnès Varda, director and companion of Jacques Demy, made a documentary in 1992 entitled Les demoiselles ont eu 25 ans.

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Ferry Bridge

The Martrou ferry bridge in Echillais appears twice in Les demoiselles de Rochefort. The building inaugurated in 1900 opens and closes in majesty the feature film of Jacques Demy. We see the showmen, Etienne (George Chakiris) and Bill (Grover Dale), using it to get to town and then when they leave. This ferry bridge of 175.5 m long, 8 m wide and 50 m high allowed horses, carriages and pedestrians to cross the Charente. It was restored in 2016. Michel Legrand composed the music for 4 films by Jacques Demy: Lola, Les parapluies de Cherbourg, Les demoiselles de Rochefort and Peau d’âne.

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The joyful spirit of the film still floats in the air and the numerous extras still have fond memories of this magical shooting.

The town of Rochefort continues to keep the memory of this film alive. There is an avenue Jacques-Demy and a place Françoise-Dorléac. The young actress died three months after the release of the feature film.

All you have to do is go there and try to find those mythical places where Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Gene Kelly or Jacques Perrin played. The city is eternally linked to the Demoiselles de Rochefort, the wonderful film by Jacques Demy.

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By Damien Canteau

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.

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