Rudyard Kipling season in Vernet-les-Bains
“I came here in search of nothing more than a little sunshine. But I found Canigou, whom I discovered to be a magician among mountains, and I submitted myself to his power… I watch him with wonder and delight. Nothing that he could do or give birth to would now surprise me, whether I met Don Quixote himself riding in from the Spanish side, or all the chivalry of ancient France watering their horses at his streams, or saw (which each twilight seems quite possible) gnomes and kobbolds swarming out of the mines and tunnels of his flanks.”
One hundred years ago, Rudyard Kipling and his wife arrived in Vernet-les-Bains… A century later, the town pays homage to the famous author with a season of exhibitions, walks, talks, stories, music, new self-guided trails, films…
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, the world-famous Rudyard Kipling visited Vernet-les-Bains with his wife, Carrie, in 1910, 1911 and 1914, to ‘take the waters’ for her rheumatism.
Of Vernet, Kipling wrote….
“Vernet is a lovely, cheerful place, surrounded by high mountains on which snow still lingers in March.The sun is Spanish and stabs through the gorges like a knife.”
“There is a pleasant English Club, with all the papers. Our rooms are very comfortable.”
“Carrie takes her sulphur baths, drinks her sulphur water and had a drastic course of massage sous l’eau that made her swear yet made her better. On the whole, she found great good out of her course of baths.”
Watch out for……..
…a new ‘self-guided trail’ around the village, which will be marked by information panels at key locations, telling the story of Kipling in Vernet and of the Belle Epoque period.
…guided tours of the village led by actors and musicians offering a “theatrical” presentation of Kipling’s visits to Vernet.
…exhibitions based around Kipling and other literary aspects of the Pyrenees mountains. Historians and other scholars will give lectures on these and related themes.
…screenings of Kipling’s story “The Man Who Would Be King”. Other films based on Kipling’s works will be shown – including, of course, “The Jungle Book”.
…chamber concerts featuring songs based on poems written by Kipling.
…puppet theatre show, based on Kipling’s characters and stories.
Exhibitions at the tourist office
Exhibition by British artist Hannah Thompson, inspired by characters in the town at the time Kipling wrote his short story, Why snow falls at Vernet.
The Pyrenees mountains have given inspiration to mountaineers, writers, artists, scientists and many others. This exhibiton, prepared by a leading local history society, explores these various themes.
Self-guided history trails
“The Kipling walk”
This short walk introduces the “belle époque” section of Vernet-les-Bains. It has been adapted for partially sighted people.
“The Winter Garden walk”
This former landscaped garden lies on a steep hillside opposite Vernet’s spa. It was here that Kipling found inspiration for his short story about Vernet.
Talks and lectures
The talks will be held in the Winter Garden, the Casino Park and the Casino Theatre.
Friday 17 June, from 14h30
“Vernet-les-Bains seen from the Himalayas”, by Hélène Guillaume, specialist in 19th century English literature
“Kipling and war”, by Jean Louis Trouillon, specialist in English literature (terminology and lexicology). Casino Park.
“Kipling and the Victorians”, by Isabelle Cases, specialist in English civilization (Victorian England).
“The Man Who Would Be King”, film by John Huston (1975), followed by a discussion led by Jocelyn Dupont, specialist in English studies.
Vernet-les-Bains and “high society” at the start of the 20th century
A series of talks in the Casino Theatre, presented by members of the Pyrénées-Orientales Historical Society.
“The Pyrenees and the arts” by historian Laurent Fonquernie. Friday 24 June, 17h00.
“The conquest of Vernet-les-Bains by the European élite” by historian Edwige Praca.
“The Anglican church of St Georges, Vernet-les-Bains” by historian Madeleine Souche.
“Theatrical” guided tours
A stroll in the Casino Park with tales and songs, by the Eparpille company (three actors, including a violin-player…)
Films and cartoons adapted from the works of Rudyard Kipling, screened at the Casino Theatre.
“The Jungle Book” (Disney)
“The Man Who Would be King” (John Huston). See Talks and lectures, above.
Classical music concerts
“Melodies inspired by Kipling”.
Songs adapted from poems by Kipling, presented by pianist Michel Peus (fomer deputy director of the Perpignan Conservatoire), violinist Jean Verdier (former member of the National Orchestra of France) and lyric soprano Marielle Vizentini (Perpignan Conservatoire).
Spend an evening with “The storytellers of Sahorre” as they re-create “Kipling’s imaginary world”.
“Kiping in Vernet-les-Bains”, by the the Vernet-les-Bains association which organises each year the “Belle Epoque” festival
Guided tours “The Winter Garden”
A landscaped garden formerly attached to the Spa, it was laid out at the end of the 19th century.
“The village arboretum”
This historic collection of more than 2000 trees, made up of around 320 different species, is spread throughout the village.
“The English visitors’ waterfall”
The classic walk from Vernet-les-Bains.
“In search of Puck the elf”
Follow the clues to discover on foot Vernet’s natural heritage and Kipling’s magical world.
OFFICE DE TOURISME DE VERNET LES BAINS
Maison du Patrimoine
2 rue de la Chapelle
Tel : 0033 (0)4 68 05 55 35