Victor Hugo’s epic novel may be famous as the inspiration for the hit movie and long-running West End show - but it is less well known that part of the story is set in a small town in the Pas-de-Calais.
Les Misérables in Montreuil
Hugo first visited Montreuil-sur-Mer in 1837 while on a tour of northern France. He wandered the town’s ramparts and observed the people going about their business before stopping for lunch at the Hôtel de France - and the memory of the place left a lasting impression on the writer. Writing to his wife after visiting the town, Hugo said: “One thing struck me yesterday morning as I was wandering in these old boulevards of Montreuil, it is the way human beings change.”
When Les Misérables was published in 1862 its protagonist, the convict Valjean, is the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer and much of the early part of the story - set against the turbulence of French life in the early 19th century - takes place in the town.
Les Misérables son et lumière
The people of Montreuil-sur-Mer are rightly proud of their town’s central role in the story of Les Misérables and every year they stage a stunning son et lumière - sound and light - production of the famous tale.
Hundreds townsfolk young and old - as well as assorted animals - take part in the show amid the walls of the old castle and the ramparts of the town. Dancers, horses and fireworks combine to make this annual spectacle a truly wondrous sight to behold.
Montreuil-sur-Mer is easy to get to for those arriving on the ferry to France. It is less than an hour’s drive from the port at Calais along the A16 motorway.
MyFerryLink offers up to 16 sailing between Dover and Calais every day and you can book your crossing from £19 one way by visiting our booking page on the website or by calling 0844 2482 100.
This year’s shows are taking place on July 26-29 and August 2-5. They start at 10.30pm and tickets are priced at €17 for adults and €8 for children. You can find more information on the Les Misérables Montreuil website.
(Pictures courtesy of Les Misérables Montreuil)