Emmanuelle Béart at Royal Palm - A French Woman star in Mauritius

Emmanuelle Béart has become a regular visitor to mauritius, where she particularly enjoys travelling around “off the beaten track”. the French film star first rose to fame in the 1980s, winning a César and being a member of the jury at the Cannes film Festival along the way, Emmanuelle’s best known starring roles include a French Woman, manon des Sources, a Heart in Winter, mission Impossible, Hell and la belle noiseuse. She was recently again on holiday in mauritius, when she stayed at the royal Palm.

“When I’m on holiday, I like meeting people but also just sitting down and watching.”

Do you often come to Mauritius?

I first came here 23 years ago, when I rented a small fisherman’s cottage. It meant I met Mauritians and fell in love with the place; I’ve returned here many times since. I’m very fond of the people here, being in contact with them. When I stay somewhere grand, it has to be at the Royal Palm because of the quality of service, the warm welcome and its peaceful atmosphere. Even here, I don’t just stay put; I hire a car and spend the day out and about. My idea of a holiday isn’t just being stuck in a hotel. (Smiles) I’ve also learnt that, if you can drive in Mauritius, you can drive anywhere!

So you really set out to explore the place?

I love being at home but I also enjoy venturing around. When I’m on holiday, I like meeting people but also just sitting down and watching. What I like when I’m abroad is finding out about local cultures, religions and customs. That’s why I hire a car and travel around, asking the way as I drive along. I discover places and
make friends with people who show me how to get to little spots off the beaten track. I’m in the middle of writing the film script of a novel and I need somewhere quiet where I can settle down for the day and write, while watching people go by.

I gather you’re also working on an album of songs of your late father, Guy Béart.

That’s right. It’s a project that reprises some of my father’s classic songs, sung by people who were part of his life, a life that was far from run-of-the-mill. He was born in Egypt and lived in Lebanon before moving to France. I’m trying to retrace the paths he took and make sure Guy’s songs are once again available. I’m also working on other projects, mainly to do with staging plays.

Any chance of seeing you on stage in Mauritius some time?

People here have a sense of curiosity, they’re open to the outside world and I’d love to appear on stage here – and see how the public reacts! Twenty-three years after my first visit, the country is still undergoing a transformation but Mauritians remain as friendly as ever. Sometimes people even recognise me – as it happened with a group of young women in a restaurant. It rather surprised me as, not unusually I was in a quiet little place in the middle of nowhere.

Apparently you once said, “I’ve never found myself particularly beautiful.” That’s hard to believe.

It doesn’t interest me. As far as I’m concerned, what’s important, what really matters, lies elsewhere. The real qualities are things like honesty, integrity, respect for others and open-mindedness. Maybe also self-acceptance. Without asking yourself what lies in the mirror, perhaps it’s all more about what you feel and, from that, see how to live differently. I’ve been involved in various social causes, particularly the plight of undocumented immigrants in France. I’ve also been an ambassador for UNICEF. I’ve noticed, incidentally, that several NGOs in Mauritius have been doing some great work.