Sometimes there are places which create profound friendships. The Belle Isle sur Risle hotel tells the story of two writers, political activists and men with extraordinary stories who became good friends.
Ghassan Fawaz and Tahar Ben Jelloun are two writers renowned for their commitment and passion for words. Originally, they had very little in common except the fact that they were born same year in 1947, one in the Mashreq (Lebanon) and the other in the Maghreb (Morocco), and that they had made France their home. Their passion for life and words brought them together and their friendship has grown stronger over the years.
We are familiar with Tahar Ben Jelloun, the writer of “L’Enfant de sable”
which made him famous in 1985, and whose second part “La Nuit Sacrée”
won him the Goncourt Prize in 1987: he is a poet, a doctor in social
psychopathology, but he is also a pamphleteer who writes regularly in the
press. He often visits schools and universities where his speeches are
always appreciated and of high quality. He has written several educational
books such as “Islam explained to children” or “Terrorism
explained to our children”.
Art is certainly one of the things that brings him and Ghassan Fawaz together – the main one being the love of words and literature. Indeed, when staying at Belle Isle sur Risle, one can’t help but admire the furniture and antiques on display in every corner of the hotel. Because Ghassan Fawaz (and it is a well-kept secret) is also a hotelier…. with his wife Marcelle, they bought a secondary home in 1986 and turned it into a charming hotel in Normandy.
Leaving the operational side to his wife Marcelle and now to their son Timour,
Ghassan Fawaz, a former publisher, devotes himself to writing. Published by
Seuil, “Les moi volatils des guerres perdues” and “Sous le ciel
d’Occident” are two of his major books.
We can just imagine the debates taking place between those two in the cosy lounges
of the Belle Isle sur Risle hotel. We would like to be invited to their table
to be able to exchange ideas, if only for a moment.
Very open-minded, Tahar can also be seen in unusual places. In 2019, for example, he was asked to design the 8 stained glass windows of the church of Le Thoureil in Anjou. The result is amazing because Tahar Ben Jelloun is also a very talented artist and painter: