Chris Slade describes the son et lumiere presentation at the abbey of Bon Repos called "Le Pays de Conomor" in Brittany, which takes place during the first two weeks of August.
I am not a fan of pretty villages. They seem false somehow. Fake. They are superficially tarted up to entice you in, and then the gimmicky shops try to sell you irrelevant expensive tat.
La Gacilly does not fall within this category. Yes, it is a very pretty village. It is situated on a hill and the cobbled streets wind down to the river which runs through the bottom of the village. La Gacilly is a working village. There is a petrol station in the middle of the village. The pharmacy and estate agents arenӴ hidden away. Amongst all the window boxes are over 50 artisanal outlets. Here craftsmen and women actually make the stuff they sell. The mix of artisans is impressive, there are artists, dressmakers, iron forges, milners, sculptures, glass blowers, chocolatiers, cobblers, felt makers, potters, carpenters Šthe list goes on. These outlets are real. Yes, they are shops.. but they are more than that.. they are workshops with a retail element.
I have never seen an empty retail unit in the winding streets of La Gacilly. I have often wondered how these talented artisans can make a living in a small unit in a village in rural Brittany where unemployment is high and the demand for luxury items must be low, particularly in this economic climate. Can they really survive on the tourist trade ?
The answer must lie is clever promotion and town management to ensure nothing disrupts the excellent tenant mix of this vibrant village.
There is one business that dominates the outskirts of La Gacilly, Yves Rocher. From whatever direction you approach La Gacilly you will pass through fields and fields of herbs and flowers, marigolds, poppies, daisies and many more. The factories of Yves Rocher are also based at La Gacilly where all of the beauty products are made and packaged. The visitors centre is well worth a visit.
Yves Rocher has been around for years, weathered many a difficult time selling ҬuxuryҠgoods, so they clearly have the commercial know how.
I should not have been surprised yesterday when I learnt that the Mayor of La Gacilly was Jacques Rocher, Yves Rocherӳ son !!!Ů Yves Rocher was mayor for 30 years or so, and when he died 10 ֠15 years ago, the responsibility of being mayor fell to his son Jacques.
Surely there must be conflicts of interest. But, La Gacilly is thriving. Yves Rocher bring a huge amount of publicity and tourists to La Gacilly and each year they host a huge out door photo exhibition where enormous photos are erected throughout La Gacilly. There is no doubt that Jacques Rocher is proactive. At Christmas time all of the shops have wooden fascias tacked on to their shopfronts so they look more ңhristmassyҮ
The people of La Gacilly must be happy that any conflicts of interest are outweighed by the commercial knowledge and experience of the Rocher family as they have voted them in as mayor for the last 40 years !!..