The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                                         PAGE THREE

A Franco-American Portrait  continued . . .

Many contemporary French playwrights like Anouilh, Giraudoux, Schmitt and Reza have included in their plays intelligent characters who express ideas and philosophize about the human condition. This generally doesn't go over well with American theater tastes. Americans tend to prefer the well-made play, dramaturgy over ideas; they just don't seem  interested in listening to characters spew ideas.

There just seemed to be more opportunities to play interesting roles for someone who looked like me in Paris. My very first film role was as a dancer under Jean Yanne in 1975 in a film called Chobizneness, directed and starring Yanne himself. 
Since 1990, I've appeared in about ten French films, including a starring role in L'Homme est une Femme Comme les Autres, with Antoine de Caunes, Elsa Zylberstein and Gad El Maleh, Les Portes de la Gloire,  and most recently, Demonlover.

AG What have been some of your theatrical ups and downs here in France?

EG In the mid-1970s,  I auditioned for the Paris premiere of the musical A Chorus Line. We were about three hundred the first day, learning the choreography, doing monologues, and singing for a jury of three from New York on the stage of the Théâtre de la Porte St Martin. At the end, after five grueling days of non-stop sweating six hours a day, we were down to fifteen exhausted but hopeful candidates. Only three were finally selected, including myself. I'll never forget the ecstatic feeling that lasted weeks, as I wrote to everyone I knew with the good news. We were supposed to start rehearsals five months later, but then – without even bothering to tell us! - the producers decided to cancel the project. Talk about a bummer!

AG And, an up?

EG I was about twenty-one when I went to see the Ionesco classic The Bald Soprano at the little Huchette Theater, where it played for years. I still hadn't decided to live permanently in Paris or to make theater my profession. I was so blown away by the Nicolas Bataille production of the play that I ventured backstage after the performance and found myself in the tiny dressing room where the actors were changing huddled before the one mirror. I stood in the doorway congratulating them in my faltering university French, but they did respond to my overwhelming enthusiasm by inviting me join them at a nearby café.

This friendly and spontaneous reaching out to a total stranger was not something you'd normally run into in theaters in Los Angeles. I was subjugated by Paris, and decided I had to live here someday.

There have been so many striking experiences.  Let's see... in 1999, Alejandro Jodorowsky invited me to tour Italy for one year with his play Opera Panica. We performed in over twelve Italian cities, from Bologna to Naples, places I may never have had the time to see or visit otherwise. The greatest thrill was performing comedy in Italian to a live audience. I never thought I'd be doing that one day. In every town we received wonderful reviews and sometimes had to give two matinée performances in rapid succession because the lines in the street were so long. 

Twenty years earlier, I had had the same wonderful feeling of being on the road, when I toured all over France with La Révolution Française the first musical written by Shoenberg and Boublil (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon). We first played at the Théâtre Mogador for a year, then I got to discover about fifteen French cities over a period of months - and got paid for it!

Another one of my favorite memories was working with Annie Cordy who had the miraculous talent of infusing her audiences with such joie de vivre that at the end of Nini la Chance we'd be taking our bows on stage and watching octogenarians stand up on their seats clapping and waving their arms in total rapture singing along with us. I really felt we were doing something useful for humanity, especially during the cold, gray Paris winters.

AG Anything you really miss about the States? 

EG I miss the curiosity of Americans, their openness, their ability to strike up conversations with anyone who happens to be next to them on a bus or in an elevator. The French can be very reserved and you often need to be introduced to people before they will open up to you. They seemed to be much more open twenty years ago than they are now.

In the States I love going out for breakfast!  Most of all I miss the nature in California, the Pacific Ocean, the National Parks, the open skies and vast horizons. But I don't miss the commercialism that informs most artistic endeavor in a city like L.A.   I still believe in Art for Art, and not for profit. 

AG You now specialize in training up-and-coming actors. Are they mostly Americans? And how does this generation of the stage-struck compare with the previous one(s)?

EG Most of my acting students are French, but every so often I teach a class in English for the New York Film Academy and it will include American, British or other English speakers from all over the world. 

Most of them are not 'stage-struck'. There seems to be more awareness among the younger generation that the days of 'glamour' are over. Young filmmakers and students of acting are more serious than ever. Gone are the days when a star would boast, “Never took an acting class I my life!” Today, the young do not buy into the myths as easily as my generation did. Then too, there are economic uncertainties every step of the way.

These last three days I have been casting Shakespeare's Richard II, which I'm directing and is to open later this year at the Théâtre du Nord Ouest in Paris. I put one announcement out on the Internet and got over a hundred replies from young actors. I've been amazed by the quality of their work; eighty percent of the actors I auditioned were simply brilliant. I couldn't believe there were so many good people out there. It's really hard to make a choice; I don't think I would have said this twenty years ago. 

[Photo courtesy of  Edwin Gerard.  All rights reserved.]

Arthur Gillette doesn't just know interesting people such as Edwin Gerard, 
he also knows the most interesting places in and stories about Paris.  Why not arrange to
 take one of his sixteen strictly personal walks to help you discover 'Paris Through the Ages'. 
For more on the strolls, visit our Marketplace  page, and/or contact Arthur directly at


Cotes de Beaune vineyards, Burgundy, Photo Sue Boxell.  All Rights Reserved.

Burgundy on a Plate

Wine and Gastronomy Tours conducted by a former Burgundian chef ~ 
private, guided tours offering a taste of the real Burgundy. 
Eight one-day themed tours or customized tours from which to choose.
Contact Sue Boxell at or visit her
web site by clicking on the photo above.

SPECIAL FEATURE  ~  a Wedding in France

Can I Get Married in France? 
                                                                                                                                           by Corina Clemence

France, the land of over 30,000 castles, is a spectacular country to choose for your wedding ceremony.  However, a civil wedding in France requires legal procedures and advance planning, as well as a minimum stay of four weeks and blood tests to complete the necessary documentation prior to the legal ceremony.

As this is usually difficult to arrange, many couples opt to have a legal wedding in their own country, before jetting to France for a religious ceremony held at a spectacular location like a fairy tale château in the Loire Valley or at a location in Paris ~ and they then honeymoon in France.  Either type of ceremony in France will offer you a romantic and picturesque setting for that special day.

A civil marriage is mandatory in France and religious ceremonies, which are optional, are not legally binding in any way and can only be performed after the civil ceremony. To be legal, a marriage in France must be performed by a French civil authority. In practice this means that the mayor or his legally authorized replacement performs the marriage ceremony.

The Civil Ceremony

For a civil ceremony there is a requirement of residency with which one of the parties to be married must comply. Either the bride or groom must reside in the town or the arrondissement (if in Paris) for the thirty days prior to the marriage.  In addition to these thirty days, French law requires the publication of the marriage banns at City Hall for ten days which makes a total residency requirement of 40 days before the ceremony can be scheduled to take place at City Hall.

Documents needed for a civil ceremony are as follows:
-  Birth certificate, not from a hospital but from the official government agency for recording births, like the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the appropriate jurisdiction in America.
-  A notarized "Affidavit of Law" (Certificat de Coutume), drawn up by an attorney in law licensed in the State of residence of the party, stating: that this person is free to marry, that the marriage to be performed in France will be recognized as valid in their home country, and that publication of marriage banns is not required in their home country, neither under State nor Federal law.
-  In the case of previous marriages, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse or a certified copy of the final divorce decree must be produced.
-  Prenuptial certificate of health issued not more than two months prior to the date of the marriage by a medical doctor after serological tests for syphilis, serological tests to determine blood types and possibly the presence of irregular anti-bodies, and further for females serological tests for rubella and toxoplasma.  It is possible to have these tests done in France.

In all cases, it is recommended that the couple contact the Marriage Bureau of City hall upon arrival in France as extra documents may be required, such as a residence affidavit.

All the documents listed above must be translated into French for presentation to French officials. Translations can be done in the United States, for example, by a translating agency or by a certified translator in France. If the translations are done in the United States, the translations as well as the original of the document must be presented to the French Consulate General for verification.

All foreign documents must be legalized before being presented in the French authorities. American documents can be legalized by obtaining the Apostille provided for by the Hague Convention which was signed by the United States on October 15, 1981. The Apostille is usually obtained through the office of the Secretary of State of whatever state in which the document was issued.

Regarding prenuptial agreements: if no special measures are taken by the parties with a French Notary or an attorney at law in the States, prior to the marriage, they are considered married under the communaute reduite aux acquets. This means that what each party owns personally before the marriage, or whatever comes to them afterwards through inheritance, remains their property. Only what is acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both parties.

American citizens holding ordinary American passports are not required to obtain a visa for a trip to France as long as they do not stay longer than three months. The visa exemption does not apply to students, journalists or to members of airline crews no matter what the length of their stay. American citizens holding diplomatic or official passports must obtain a visa before going to France no matter what the length of their stay. Other foreign nationals must check with the visa section of the Consulate General of France.

As the legal requirements for getting married in France are detailed and may be reviewed or amended at any time, it is recommended that you engage a competent wedding planner if you wish to get married in France. Not only will she advise you on up-to-date legal requirements, she can assist you with every little detail for your special day.

A Religious Ceremony

Chapel at Château du Guerinet, photo courtesy of Clemence family. All rights reserved.A fairy tale château in France is a magical location for your wedding vows.  If you decide to have your civil ceremony in your home country, you can arrange to have a religious ceremony in France with the help of a wedding planner or perhaps the owner of the château where the ceremony will take place.  Arrangements can be made with local vendors to provide catering, flowers, a photographer, music, a marquee, and even the local clergy to perform the ceremony.  Château du Guerinet, near Blois, is an exclusive luxury chateau perfect for that romantic wedding. 

Corina Clemence, her husband and children share the extraordinary Château du Guerinet in the Loire Valley
with bed and breakfast guests, or offer the entire château for rent for a family get-together. The
Clemences enjoy providing their château for a beautiful French wedding.  If that is a dream
of yours, why not contact Madame Clemence at for more information?

Weddings in Provence
                                                                                                                            by Anita Rieu-Sicart

As more and more UK nationals and expatriates from all over the northern hemisphere arrive and settle, more often than not to retire in this region of the South of France, so, too, do they bring their children, grandchildren and friends into the region. Naturally enough, now and again the subject of family weddings crop up, and more and more expatriate families are finding it a wonderful solution to hold them, and other family junkets, right here in Provence. 

The main attraction is the cost savings to be made, particularly on wine and champagne, the absolutely have-to-have at any wedding, plus cost savings that can be had on accommodation, and, now with the advent of so many budget airlines flying into the region, on transport. The cost of any wedding, low or high, in the UK is likely to give the father of the bride severe fiscal hemorrhages.

Gill Wedding / photo courtesy of Var Village Voice. All rights reserved.Call it the "Four Weddings & a Funeral" syndrome, which reminded everyone what great fun weddings are, not just for the principal couple, but also for the wedding guests, many of whom troupe along (particularly now after that film) forever the romantic optimists, hoping they too are going to find their 'soul mate' and wind up in the Happily Ever After.

Now when a young couple puts the question to their friends,  "Would you come out to the South of France if we got married there?" The reply is nearly always a hysterically emphatic, "Yes, and how!"

As one happy bride told the Var Village Voice, "Our decision to hold the wedding in the Var was based partly on the fact my parents lived in the area, partly due to the glorious weather and heavily due to the financial sense it made.  It meant that our wedding could be everything we wanted and more, without breaking the bank. Everyone treated the trip like a holiday which added to the party atmosphere and everyone who came said that it was one of the best weddings they had ever been to. Having the wedding in Provence proved to be the best decision we could have possibly made. It was a wonderful weekend that couldn't have been more perfect.  We would do it again in a heartbeat!"

To read the April 2007 Var Village Voice newsletter supplement click 'WEDDINGS IN PROVENCE' (a PDF file).

For more details and to answer any questions you might have, please contact Anita Rieu-Sicart
by email at  Be sure to visit her web site,
and subscribe to her wonderful newsletter featuring special events, everyday activities, restaurant reviews,
vendor information, real estate offers, and everything else for those living in or visiting Province's Var département.


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