Ren Mouchotte Searching For Ren Paris

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE - Searching for René - Paris

Date: 18th October 2012

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE – Searching for René – filming in Paris

Many programmes are made on a shoestring these days and regional television is no exception – so the crew were only the Producer, Matthew, our cameraman Ben and yours truly.

The day started with drama. I was supposed to meet the chaps at the Folkestone Service Station. They aren’t local so they went straight through to the Eurotunnel Shopping Area by mistake. By a stroke of fortune, the car to take me to the meeting was late otherwise I’d have been waiting for them at the Services. However, Matthew phoned just as we were coming up to the junction for Eurotunnel. The Tunnel staff came up trumps. They arranged for the taxi driver and me to go through the barrier without a ticket and drove Matthew up to the barrier to collect me and then let the driver out through the staff exit. So many thanks to Grant, Michael and the lovely lady in the booth.

By the time we’d driven from Calais to Paris it was late afternoon and a miserable grey day but Ben decided that we would make use of the bit of daylight left to us and had Matthew drive around the Arc de Triomphe time and again with me looking out of the car window. Then he wanted a decent shot of the Tour Eiffel so we dropped him off. It took us over a half hour to get back to pick him up – because of all the one way streets and no right turns. I think he thought we’d abandoned him.

Next day we made our way to the cemetery of Pére Lachaise for a meeting with some of the members of the Quentin Mouchotte family. You might think we live in a society full of bureaucracy but the paperwork to get us into Pére Lachaise and the officialdom had to be experienced to be believed. However after much too-ing and fro-ing and my schoolgirl French we did get the car and equipment to the Mouchotte tomb.

I met with one of Jacqueline Quentin’s daughters Elizabeth Dubin and her husband Jacques and another son in law – Hubert de Lisle who has been an invaluable help to me. I didn’t know that November 1st is All Souls’ Day and across Europe families take flowers to the graves of their loved ones. I’d asked if I might take a tribute so not only were there three lovely plants for the tomb but the roses I’d left in July had dessicated superbly and Elizabeth insisted on leaving them in the tomb. It was lovely seeing them all again – they have been so welcoming. It was only during my interview with Hubert that I learned it was René’s sister Jacqueline who found my letter last October on her All Souls’ visit to her brother. (I’d left the letter in July 2011). Apparently she’d been approached several times over the years with regard to making a documentary about René and nothing had come of any of the approaches so she was understandably reluctant to go down that path again. However, I was very lucky in that she did decide to meet me and, if you’ve been following the story, I met her on December 5th 2011 the day after her 101st Birthday – took her René’s BOB Medals in May and she died on June 5th this year only a month before we managed to get the official presentation of the Medals at the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris.

We were lucky with the weather and after a drizzly start to the day, lovely sunshine bathed the Cemetery in that soft and kind Autumnal light.

On our way out of Paris we paused briefly at the Villa where René was born and brought up at St. Mandé and then it was onto the Péripherique and out of Paris and France and a drive up to Westende in Belgium.

With the family at the Mouchotte tomb.

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE - Searching for René - Paris

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