The Taste of Things, otherwise known as La Passion de Dodin Bouffant is a French movie directed by award winning Tran Anh Hung starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. At this year’s Cannes Film festival, Mr. Hung won for Best Director. The film had a limited release in New York the week of December 13, 2023 in order to qualify as France’s selection for a nomination to the Oscar’s Best International Film category. In the first round of Oscar voting The Taste of Things made the cut among 14 other foreign films. Stay tuned for the final vote to be announced mid-January. The wider release of “The Taste of Things” in the U.S. will be on February 9, 2024.
The entire movie was shot in the region of the Atlantic Loire Valley (Pays de la Loire) which is best known for its capital Nantes, the historic city of Angers and of Le Mans—of 24 hours of le Mans fame—and the magnificent bay and beaches of the Sables d’Olonne. The actual film location is tucked away Northwest of Nantes (87 km) & Angers (42 km) in the area known as the Anjou Bleu, more specifically in the Segré-en-Anjou Bleu environs. For visitors who wish to follow in the footsteps of The Taste of things, access by high-speed train to Angers or Nantes from Paris is only about 2 hours followed by an easy drive to the Segré environs.
In an interview during a preview of the film in the region and before its November release in France, the production scout Antonio Correia says it all about the area: ”I first approached the region’s film commission. It’s their job, they did it very well. They gave me leads. They pointed me to the area of Segré-en-Anjou Bleu. When Hung saw this setting…I get out of the car, he grabs me by my sleeve: ‘Tonio, show me this location’ and we almost run towards the house. He had already grasped its universe. At one point we all looked at each other thinking, we found our set. That’s really something very rare, but when it’s that obvious, it is really pleasant.”
Just a 12mn drive south of Segré is the main location and set: the privately owned Château de Raguin in Chazé-sur-Argos. It was a perfect setting for this tale of gastronomy and love. Most of the scenes and all the cooking took place there and the culinary consultant—who also makes a cameo appearance, is 3 Michelin star Chef Pierre Gagnaire. The 15th to 17th century Château de Raguin is only open to the public in September during the nationwide Heritage days.
Supported by the Pays de la Loire region, during that same preview screening, Ms. Christelle Morançais, President of the Pays de la Loire Region said: "It's a great source of pride for the Region to have supported this film, shot entirely in Pays de la Loire. The Pays de la Loire region boasts some remarkable natural and historical sites, which are real assets in attracting exceptional projects such as La Passion de Dodin Bouffant.” Needless to say that the region is also counting on the film to boost international tourism.
The candlelight dinner was shot at the Château de Brissac and has been owned by the same family since 1502. The towering chateau nicknamed the Giant of the Loire Valley is open to the public for visits or for a B&B stay. Its landscaped park is lovely and Brissac offers B&B guests excursions to admire the vineyards of the Loire Valley, discover the historic cities of Angers and Saumur and to visit other famous castles and historical monuments such as the Château de Saumur and the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The over 900 year-old royal abbey is the final resting place of Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband King Henry II Plantagenêt and their son Richard the Lionheart, The Château de Brissac is just a 32mn drive across the Loire River and south of Angers.
Other scene locations open to the public include the 17th century Château de la Faucille and its remarkable gardens, both of which are open on appointment and during heritage days in June and September.
And last but not least, the Château de Danne where garden scenes were shot in this imposing 19th century manor, with of course, very attractive gardens.
Some background & partial synopsis (you will have to see the movie for the rest)
The Taste of Things is based on the classic 1920 French novel The Passionate Epicure written by Marcel Rouff. It introduces Dodin-Bouffant, a character loosely based on Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, an infamous bachelor and epicure dedicated to the high arts: the art of food and the art of love.
Eugénie (played by Juliette Binoche) an outstanding cook, has been working for the famous gastronome Dodin (played by Benoît Magimel) for 20 years. Over time, the practice of gastronomy and mutual admiration led to a loving relationship. The result is a series of dishes, each more delicious and delicate than the last, which have even amazed the world's greatest chefs…