La statue trône depuis samedi 25 juin place Colbert, décor principal de l'histoire des Demoiselles de Rochefort, film tourné en 1966 dans la ville.

More than 50 years after the film, the Demoiselles de Rochefort return to Place Colbert

Time has not changed anything. The fervor that reigns in Rochefort around Les Demoiselles (from Rochefort) is impressive, even 54 years after the release of Jacques Demy’s film. And yet, almost nothing in the city (apart from a plaque on the facade of the Conservatory) indicated until then that the legendary musical was indeed shot here, in this city of Charente-Maritime. It is now ancient history, thanks to this imposing statue, unveiled and inaugurated with great fanfare this Saturday, June 25. Place Colbert, of course.

Almost three meters high

Now impossible to miss, the work is almost three meters high. Especially since the silhouettes do not deceive: hats, dresses, haircuts, and above all, colors. And that’s all. Faces remain smooth, “the twins are anonymous, and I find that very good”, remarks a Rochefortaise. Like her, many of them came to discover her from the very first moments, not far from 200 people.

The secret will have been well kept. Almost no one saw the statue before this Saturday, June 25. © Radio France
Lise Dussault

As soon as the fabric falls, a lot of Rochefortais, of all ages (but still many of a certain age) rush to take a picture. Elizabeth has downright tears in her eyes: “It’s full of memories, me _I could have been a dancer in the film_. At the time, I was six years old and I was part of the Rochefort dance school. But my dad went on vacation so I couldn’t…” His mother, who remained calm, far from the tumult of the crowd, also remembers her memories, “being young”: “It feels like yesterday. I used to pass by there every day, to take my daughter to school.”

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Respect the universe of Jacques Demy

A whole universe that conquered a city and far beyond, and that the selected artist, Franck Ayroles tried to respect: “I was honored when I was offered this proposal. And I found it quite logical because in the end, _our universes are not so far apart_. We had to respect the colors etc. But I didn’t feel like I had any constraints”. The painter/sculptor had seen the film years ago. He immersed himself in it before starting his work.

The former President of the Republic François Hollande discovered the new statue of the Demoiselles de Rochefort.
The former President of the Republic François Hollande discovered the new statue of the Demoiselles de Rochefort. © Radio France
Lise Dussault

He also had to hurry: “I spent evenings, weekends there. Usually, it takes me eight months for such a work. But there was a schedule to respect. It was perhaps the only pressure I had “. Indeed, this Saturday, June 25 was also the last day of the Twin Sisters festival, which honors music and cinema. Event created by Julie Gayet, present for the occasion. And accompanied by… François Hollande, former President of the Republic. Jacques Demy’s daughter, Rosalie Varda, was also present for the occasion.

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