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Tarascon, a town of myths and legends,
inspired many tales including those of Alphonse Daudet "The Prodigious Adventures of Tartarin of Tarascon" which came out in 1872. It tells the story of Tartarin, the intrepid big-game hunter and incredible show off from this small town in Provence.
But who is he?
Tartarin dreamt of adventure from a very young age, read travel books and loved hunting. A chatty, boastful, skilful liar and believer of his lies, he gained a reputation in the town as a great hunter. Unfortunately though, game was rare in the hills around Tarascon so one day, Tartarin decided to tackle a worthy adversary…a lion. This marked his departure for Africa where dangerous but glorious adventures were waiting for him. When he got back from his African adventure, he triumphantly spoke of his imaginary extraordinary exploits and was adored by the townsfolk who were proud of their hero. From then on Tartarin could bask in glory…
Alphonse Daudet may exaggerate the Mediterranean temperament in this tale but he has succeeded in combining all the facets of the people of Tarascon to produce his boastful but friendly character. Although the work was badly received by the people of Provence when it came out, Daudet’s work has made the town famous. All in all, Tartarin makes the Tarascon townsfolk laugh and, in turn, they have given him a place in the Tarasque parade.
An area dedicated to Alphonse Daudet’s character
Currently Espace Tartarin in the cloister of the Cordeliers is exhibiting some scenes re-enacting the famous novel, to bring Alphonse Daudet’s famous character back to life. The Cloister of the Cordeliers, remnant of the Franciscan Brothers’ former medieval convent, became the stage for two of the most significant scenes in this literary work belonging to an imaginary and farcical world.
1st scene: Tartarin in his cabinet of curiosities
“Picture yourself in a large room covered top to bottom with guns, sabres and all the weapons from all over the world: carbines, rifles, muskets, Corsican knives, Catalan folding knives, gun knives, daggers, Malay creeses, Caribbean arrows, flint arrows, knuckle dusters, war clubs, Hottentot clubs, Mexican lassos…” (Alphonse Daudet. Tartarin of Tarascon. 1872)
2nd scene: Tartarin entertaining the room at Mr and Mrs Bezuquet’s house
“Returning early from his drawing room success, our hero loved nothing more than burying himself in his hunting books or spending his evening in the club rather than flirting in front of a piano from Nîmes, between two candles from Tarascon. He found these musical shows beneath him…sometimes however, when there was music being played at the Bézuquet chemist, he would go in as if by coincidence and after much persuasion, would play the great duet from Robert the Devil with Mrs Bézuquet the mother…If you’ve not heard it then you’ve never heard anything…” (Alphonse Daudet. Tartarin of Tarascon. 1872)
Cloister of the Cordeliers opening hours: Mon – Fri from 10:00 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 18:00, Sat from 13:30 to 18:00. Tel: 04 90 91 38 71