Thursday, March 13, 2008

Early Encounters with France


Pleaux in the 1960s

Herry spent two summers in France - first in 1961 when he was 16 - and again in 1964. His first stay was with a distant Pugh cousin Mlle Manileve - known as Tante Lily - who lived in a large house ('Les Treize Vents') at Pleaux in the Massif Central and had friends' and relatives' children to stay to improve their French, rather in the manner of the Hupthals of Haldengutli for German and skiing. Herry was driven down by 'Aunt' Ruth (then Stevens, later Howard) and her daughter Auriol, and spent five weeks supposedly learning French but mainly swimming and brushing up his table tennis.

In 1964 he went to stay with his former nanny, Marie-Therese Carpita and her husband Lucien at their flat in Cap d'Ail. Marie-Therese then worked at Narmino, the flower shop in Monte Carlo which supplied all the flowers for the Palace, and Marie-Therese herself went there weekly to arrange them. Lucien had an equally enviable job, being the maitre at  'Le Beach' - the private beach club at Monte Carlo.

Herry was left to himself all day, and although he occasionally visited the Beach, he preferred the beach at Cap d'Ail where he made his first Swedish friends and became an early fan of Leonard Cohen. Leonard was also staying nearby and used to come to the beach each day and play his guitar and sing, mainly for the benefit of a beautiful Swedish girl called Lena.

In 1967, he again visited France on his European Tour, staying at campsites on his way through to Germany and Italy, and again on his return when he stayed with Marie-Therese at Cap d'Ail and then with Charlie Skipwith in Bordeaux.

He also visited his parents several times in Ramatuelle and he and Prue sometimes borrowed Pol and Poppet's house at Bastide Les Fanaux, once  with Sally Wilson-Young. Many holidays were also taken in the vicinity.

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