“It all started the day my husband, Bébert, arrived at aperitif time and said: Josette, there is Yves Montand on the village square. I went to see it to believe it and yes: he was there, sitting by the fountain. The shooting of Manon des Sources began ”. Recruited as an extra in 1985, Josette Bollé discovered the cinema… and the film crew discovered Mirabeau, a charming village in the Luberon of 1,300 souls, which became - for a summer time - the epicenter of Claude Berri's film which adapted Marcel Pagnol's novel to the screen. But the Manon des Sources legend was first built in Signes (Var), on the heights of Toulon, and in the Sainte-Baume massif.
"There, the filming was Homeric because it was necessary to travel kilometers on foot in the scrubland to reach one of the most beautiful places of the film: the cave of Old Mounoï and its basin of water which fed the village", remembers Anne, owner of a house in Signes. The path that leads to it reveals landscapes that, 35 years later, have not changed. Faithful to Pagnol's description: "the fragrant hills, the pine forest, the cicadas and the thousand-year-old rocks". The trail is also a delight for hikers who roam the hills in search of "landscapes of Manon." "
"Emmanuelle Béart had spent a few days with a goatherd to learn"
"It's not easy: you have to go through the undergrowth, slip between the limestone rocks and cross forests of pines and cork oaks to reach the cave", testifies one of them. The more daring take their steps to the next valley which houses the "house with blue shutters", refuge of Papet Montand. Var, Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône: the film crew traveled all over the South to find the most authentic natural settings for this extraordinary two-part plot (with “Jean de Florette”). Emmanuelle Béart, she was only 22 years old when she took on the role of Manon. Having grown up near Saint-Tropez, she knew Provence well… but not the milking of goats. "So she had spent a few days with a local goatherd to learn," recalls a villager.
Joaquine, a resident of Mirabeau and hired as an extra remembers: “I was put on a long Provencal skirt, a scarf in my hair and it was on! Yves Montand waited to act out his scenes and smiled at us. It was impressive and simple, ”she says. Her friend Josette remembers that they were paid 200 francs per day (around 30 euros). “We had our hair and makeup done every morning. At the end of the film, we really thought we were stars! Even today, they live near the fountain, adorned with a sculpture by Manon. This fountain remains the focal point for all hikers who love the film. It is here that Hugolin (Daniel Auteuil) runs to warn the Papet (Yves Montand) that the source which feeds the fountain has dried up.
"Daniel Auteuil had promised to come back on vacation"
"I do not know the film well but here, everyone talks about it all the time", admits Anouck, to the false airs of Manon. It is true, the shooting was a blessing and made the village known to the whole world. “The elders say that all the streets were blocked from morning to night. The team had created a bakery from scratch in a garage and the town hall served as the backdrop for the school! », Confide Nelly and Ludovic, at the head of the restaurant and grocery store Chez Luni, in the heart of Mirabeau. “Every day, people ask us where the film was shot and notice this large panel inside, which served as a backdrop: an advertisement for the newspaper Le Petit Marseillais. Regularly, people offer to buy it back from me. Out of the question: it is the gift of a village elder who had stored it in the back of his garage at the end of the film and gave it to us. "
Here, everyone has a family member who is on screen in the film. Screened again this summer on television, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources are still successful. At Mirabeau, all family albums bear traces of shooting photos, dedications and warm words from the stars of the film. “When leaving, Daniel Auteuil had promised to come back on vacation, Ludovic slips. We are waiting for him! "