Marcel Carné 1906-1996
Nogent, Eldorado du dimanche (1929)
It is a magnificent journey back in time to be taken by anyone harking back to pre 1930's visions of the Marne Valley close to Paris. The area in question is situated some four miles to the east of the Capital, and hordes of Parisian's would take the train on sundays out from La Bastille station towards localities such as Nogent-sur-Marne and Joinville-le-Pont where they could bathe in the waters of the Marne river (chance would be a fine thing nowadays ! ) and above all dance and drink in the "guinguettes" which were local dance halls where one could eat and drink ( the name coming from 'guinget' a cheap local white wine.) The guinguettes ( seen at length in the famous film "La Belle Equipe" starring Jean Gabin ) are an integral part of French popular culture, like the "valse musettes" which were danced therein to the sound of roving accordionists. Nogent, El Dorado du dimanche is a documentary which traces the story of one such Sunday in 1929 from morning till evening. Today the scene is much changed, there are only a couple of guinguettes left ( only open in summer)but this film harks back to the glorious days when a four mile outing was considered a treat !! That said, since the late 1990's, the guinguettes are once again coming back into fashion and are frequented by many middle class people. The two mentioned earlier, called "Chez Gégène" and "Le Petit Robinson" are now doing good business and have been tarted up quite well.