"Sur les chemins noirs"

Adaptation of the book by Sylvain Tesson by Denis Imbert

“Sur les chemins noirs” is a film by Denis Imbert and adapted from the novel by Sylvain Tesson. It’s the story of a globe-trotter who had travelled to many countries who, after an accident rediscovers the will to life on the trails of his country, France. From the Mercantour to the Cotentin, you’ll love following in the footsteps of Jean Dujardin as he discovers the high mountain landscapes of the South of France.

Sur les chemins noirs

Sylvain Tesson’s incredible journey begins in the Alpes Maritimes. His adventure starts in the little village of Tende, perched on the mountainside at 800 metres – the starting point of this redeeming walk of almost 1,500 kilometres from the Roya valley, the first images simply take your breath away. “Sur les Chemins Noirs” is an autobiographical account of an incorrigible globe-trotter who, after an accident, rediscovers the will to live on the trails of his country, France. From the Mercantour to the Cotentin, he walks the open country networks bathed in silence and solitude. Introspection and reconstruction are on the menu, with the high landscapes of the South of France as their backdrop!

Bande-annonce - Sur les chemins noirs
Bande-annonce - Sur les chemins noirs
Bande-annonce - Sur les chemins noirs

Following Pierre

The Alpes-Maritimes, the beginning

As soon as the film – or the book – begins, you’ll be plunged into the magnificent landscapes of the Mercantour National Park. This pilgrimage takes Pierre, played by Jean Dujardin, along paths filled with a rare beauty. You’ll see the Vallée de Fontanalbe in the Roya: With the vallée des Merveilles, it’s one of the two valleys where you can see the rock carvings of Mont Bego! For the braver among you who also want to follow Sylvain Tessons “Chemins Noirs”, head for the Refuge de Fontanalbe after one and a half hour hike from the hamlet of Castérino. Get a sublime bird’s eye view at 2000 metres! And there are other landscapes to discover in the Alpes-Maritimes!

When the film was being promoted, this was his answer: “The Mercantour is a rather surprising place, pretty barren. That was in the first days, wind, rain, the elements … perfect for the beginning of the film!”. That sums up the specific nature of the landscapes of the Mercantour, a multi-faceted national park which has been rebuilding itself at its own rhythm since storm Alex hit.

A stop-off in the French Southern Alps

After the steep trails of the Mercantour, Pierre, played by Jean Dujardin, stops off in Haute-Provence. The scene is set immediately and from the Ganagobie plateau you get a beautiful panoramic view of the Montagne de Lure. Don’t miss the scene at the larger-than-life Monastery of Ganagobie. This a scene that is really part of Sylvain’s adventure and the filmmaker wanted it in the film.  Father Philippe who stars opposite Jean conveys the strength of the living stones in this place and the role they have in his religious journey. This stage in the Alpes du Haute-Provence zooms on the Monastery of Ganagobie but also puts other emblematic landscapes in Haute Provence in the limelight: don’t wait to discover the beautiful shots of the Gorges-du-Verdon!

Terre de Provence in the heart of the Vaucluse

True to the book, the filming of “Sur les Chemins Noirs” took our teams to the charming village of Séguret. The idea of sticking to the initial plot was respected: there were shots of the washhouse and the vineyards! Beautiful but sometimes wild, Provence definitely has character. “During the 5 days of filming in Séguret, we went through everything: a storm, sun and the mistral; but such a beautiful Provence !” … straight from the filmmaker’s mouth. As for Dujardin, he loved his trip through the Vaucluse: “I didn’t know this little bit of the Vaucluse, but it’s been a lovely surprise”, and he wen ton to say “Séguret, a little village? OK, but I discovered a lot of emulation and life in its streets, jewellery-making artisans, a baker who makes his bread in the open air, the vines, the wines of the Rhône valley and the warmth of the locals’ welcome!”.

On the trails of the south of France

To focus on rurality and its noblest aspects was also the challenge when adapting this autobiographic book by Sylvain Tesson for the cinema! For Denis Imbert, the filmmaker, the film places images on the writer’s words. In an interview, he said: “I love the idea of reconstructing oneself by walking. We’ve focused so much on the handicap of living in the country and its isolation that I really wanted to reinstate the farming world and our heritage ». To match Sylvain’s experience, the shooting, all across France, was spread over 45 days, from the end of the summer to the beginning of the autumn. The major challenge of this adventure? To walk only the “black paths”, the trails that are only marked on IGN1/25K maps. Contemplative, meditative, intense, laconic … There are lots of adjectives to qualify the landscapes you’ll see on the screen!