Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Princess Grace: On Film and In Provence

Action! The cameras have just begun rolling here in France for Grace of Monaco, the new movie with Nicole Kidman playing Grace Kelly. The story centers on a six-month period in 1962 when French Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle and Monaco's Prince Rainier III were at odds over the opulent principality's standing as a tax haven. The Philadelphia-born Kelly, who had quit Hollywood to marry the Prince in 1955, was said to have been instrumental in helping to sort out the political hoo-ha. The film is directed by Olivier Dahan, whose Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose earned Marion Cotillard the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2008. Princess Grace died in a car accident in 1982 (her daughter Stephanie survived the crash) and it's said the funeral was watched on TV by 30 million people. Speaking of 30 million, that's the estimated budget for the film. Following her appearance at the Emmys on Sunday night, Kidman joined the cast at the Victorine Studio in Nice, which is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed Kelly opposite Cary Grant in 1955’s To Catch a Thief.

The film is slated for a 2014 release. Tim Roth will play Prince Rainer III and Paz Vega will appear as Grace Kelly's friend and confidante, the opera legend Maria Callas. Frank Langella is set to play Father Tucker, the priest who set Rainer and Kelly up and served as an important adviser to the couple throughout their relationship. Parker Posey plays the scheming social climber Madge Tivey-Faucon, Grace's lady-in-waiting who ''couldn't wait to sell unflattering tell-alls to the French press once she left Kelly's employ.'' Milo Ventimiglia plays Grace's publicist Rupert Allan, who served as consul general for the principality of Monaco and was made a Chevalier of the Order of Grimaldi in 1989.

If the life of Princess Grace interests you, then this is the perfect time to see The Princess Grace Photo Album in Les Baux de Provence, the striking Medieval hill town in the heart of Provence. It's an exhibit of photos taken by reporters from Paris Match, grouped according to era and subject and hung in three indoor/outdoor spaces around the village: in the courtyard and gallery of the Hotel de Manville (along with letters and other historic memorabilia), in the Jardin de l’îlot Post Tenebras Lux and in La Citerne. The show remains on view until November 15, 2012.

So what's the connection between the Princess and Les Baux?  The show marks the 30th anniversary of the Princess's visit with Prince Albert, the young Marquis de Baux.  In June 1982, the people of Les Baux gave an official reception for Prince Albert of Monaco and presented him with the keys of the town. A bit of history: The barony of Les Baux was raised to the status of a marquisate in 1642 by King Louis XIII, to thank the Prince of Monaco, Hercule de Grimaldi, for his assistance in the fight against the kingdom of Spain. A map of Les Baux was drawn at that time, bearing the arms of Les Baux and Monaco. The Eyguieres gate was raised in the 17th century by the Princes of Monaco. Their coat-of-arms, which was hammered down during the French Revolution, can be seen in a scroll with baroque foliage decoration.To this day,  the Grimaldis continue to contribute to the restoration and enhancement of Les Baux, such as the donation, in 1962, of the stained-glass windows in St. Vincent's Church and the restoration of the frescoes in the Hotel de Porcelet. 

At one time (in the 13th century), the village of Les Baux was home to as many as 3000 people. Now the year-round population is just 22.

To celebrate the opening of The Princess Grace Photo Album, a group of regional dignitaries, tourism authorities and local business owners were welcomed for a private tour and gala luncheon this summer. The guest of honor was Diane E. Kelly, the Consul General of the U.S. in Marseille and Monaco. 

Entrance to the Princess Grace show is free. A guide to the show and the sites pertaining to the history of the Grimaldi Family in Les Baux can be found at the Tourist Office or online here. For more info on the show or Les Baux itself, call (04 90 54 34 39), email (tourisme@lesbauxdeprovence.com) or click here.  

*For still more on Les Baux, you can see two great shots here and here. To read about a Les Baux quarry that does custom stone work, click here.

Photos: (1 & 2) Kelly, left, is being played by Kidman in "Grace of Monaco," which just began filming in France. Photos via MGM/Will Davidson/Swisse via Getty Images. (3) Poster photo by Jack Garofalo/Paris Match. (4 & 5) Large photos from many chapters of Grace Kelly's life are hung in three indoor/outdoor venues in Les Baux. (6, 7, 8) Photos from the show. (9)  Odette Girard, owner of the Les Baux restaurant Bauthezar, greets Diane E. Kelly (Consul General of the U.S. in Marseille and Monaco) in Les Baux this summer, and shows her a photo taken in June 1982 during Grace and Albert's visit.


  1. I was most impressed by the exhibition, especially the ones in the wonderful town hall. Worth spending some time I would say.

    1. Philippe I very much agree. The photos against the age-old stone walls look magnificent!

  2. How exciting. Great casting! Who could be more perfect that Nicole Kidman to play the glamous Princess Grace. Hate we'll have to wait so long to see the movie!

  3. What a fun post. I am glad I saw it on this overcast Seattle morning. Ah, how I wish I could stop by les Baux to check out the exhibition! Thank you for all the delicious pictures... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. I think Kidman will do a much better job as a graceful Kelly than she did in Hemingway and Gellhorn.

    Great post!
    The Wanderfull Traveler

    1. Yes Murissa, I think Nicole Kidman can rightly act as graceful Kelly.

      ~ Herman Swan

  5. Thanks for the info on the film and the exhibit, which both sound lovely. She was SO beautiful. Sigh...

  6. That exhibition looks super.
    I'm arriving in Provence for a year on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday (depending on striking ferry workers!) and will definitely put Les Baux on my list of Must Visit Spots.

    1. Martine, how wonderful that you'll be spending a year in Provence! I hope it's a fabulous year for you. All the best...

  7. Great post, Julie!! I hadn't heard. So exciting!! Nicole Kidman is such a terrific choice. She truly has much grace herself.

    I read 'The Bridesmaids' about the trip over on the ship. So fascinating.

    When she was a young actress she embodied the best of that era. Everyone loved her. Audrey Hepburn too. Both made relatively few films that have endured. Audrey remains #3 and Grace #13 on AFI's 25 greatest actresses of all time. That's really something.

    Audrey, Grace and Jackie Kennedy were all 5' 7 1/2" and born in 1929.

    Wow, if I were there I'd make a beeline for that exhibit.

  8. Well, that's genuinely interesting.....Parker Posey and Tim Roth in the same movie?

    A friend and I were, just a couple of days ago, discussing how much we liked Tim Roth and, without googling him, hoped that he hadn't gone completely MIA. Like Stephen Rhea, it seems Roth can play just about anything.

    As for Parker Posey? gotta love her....

    Go to this link to see my all-time favorite scene with her.....it's just eye-poppingly, hysterically apalling, and she plays it completely straight. go to:


    Level Best as Ever,

    David "Muffin" Terry

  9. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Miami Ram

  10. Princess Grace was unique and though Nicole Kidman is stunning too, I can't imagine any actress playing the Princess. I wonder if the Princess would have liked this idea...
    Anyway, the exhibit in les Baux looks fabulous.
    Thanks for the lovely post, Julie.
    Hugs from Florida!

  11. Julie, thank you so much! I'm now in Toronto, but have friends in my Cannes apartment. They work in the movie making business and would be trilled at this exhibition.
    The connection between the Princess and Les Baux is well known in Cannes:-) I've heard of it while at the film festival some years ago...
    Thank you so much for this great tip!
    Greetings from Toronto!



Related Posts with Thumbnails