VIDEO. Three main reasons to see “Paul Ricard, the child of Marseille”.

Who would have predicted that Paul Ricard would one day lend his name to one of the world’s largest spirits groups? In 1932, a young man from Marseille developed and marketed pastis, which would become the first stone of a true empire. Eric Bitoun tells the story of this extraordinary entrepreneur who never stopped building throughout his life. There are three main reasons to watch this movie.

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“He was interested in everything” sums up her daughter Michelle, who testifies at length in the documentary. You care about everything… and above all else, you might add. Because behind the success of a visionary entrepreneur, a versatile person emerges: student laboratory technician, artist, salesman, film director, boss, defender of nature…

Born in 1909 in the district of Sainte-Marthe – to which he will remain deeply attached – Paul Ricard is the son of a wine merchant, a father figure to be reckoned with in his profession. Eager to learn, he dropped out of high school in second place, seeing himself as more of an autodidact. “He wanted to be an artist, but my grandfather told him: art does not satisfy a person, work and then you will do whatever you want!” Michel Ricard says.

So he takes his first steps in the fatherhood business while attending the Beaux-Arts for a while – without a salary. Then his great interest in chemistry and his creative spirit will lead him on the path to success: at the age of 22, in a small room in the family home, he patiently perfects this pie that will bring him fortune.

“He wanted to be an artist, he will be an artist, but in another universe, with everything he can create around his brand and his product, it will be possible to bring him to life and make him necessary.” Brand historian Jean Watin-Augouard analyzes.

His passion for painting – “the river of his life” according to his daughter – will never leave him. But the entrepreneur also likes the cinema, it will make an excellent means of communication. He created his own film studio and even produced several films, such as “La caraque blonde” (for which he wrote the script), “Porte d’Orient” or even “Honoré de Marseille” with Fernandel…

Paul Ricard is also a Camargue enthusiast. Falling in love with these wide open spaces, he bought the Mejanes property in 1939. A little-known episode, the film tells how he was a rice farmer there with all his staff during the Second World War. At the same time, he works in the shadows, helping Resistance networks in the Ardèche, where he buys a source of mineral water…

An environmentalist, he bought the island of Embiez after the war: with Alain Bombard, he created an oceanographic institute there in 1966. It will also be a research laboratory where scientists work year-round to protect the sea.

Even after resigning as CEO in 1968, Paul Ricard remained a tireless developer, devoting himself especially to the development of his islands, the Castellet airfield, the race circuit that bears his name…

Nearly a century after its creation, pastis Ricard is ubiquitous in bars and restaurants across the country. For many consumers, the brand crystallizes a single “little yellow” image and remains inseparable from a certain idea of ​​the South. How did he know how to apply himself so well?

That’s what we discover in this documentary. Since 1932, the product’s success has been dazzling and surpassing the competition.

For brand historian Jean Watin-Augouard “The uniqueness of this pastis combines several ingredients: licorice from Abyssinia, herbs from Marseille and star anise from China. These are three ingredients with five volumes of water and, above all, a lot of sun. (!) pastis will form the singularity of Ricard. The second singularity, he will give his name to his brand and it will be a real guarantee to reassure consumers. The third key ingredient: sales. Paul Ricard will always say to his team: Every day my friend!” And so he will test his product everywhere, consume it wherever anise liquor can be consumed.”

Another explanation put forward by the historian Didier Nourrisson: “Paul Ricard immediately created his own company with a somewhat imperialistic slogan: “Ricard, the true pastry of Marseille”! And it would be a triumph, because in the 1930s Marseille was a port, a large city that could easily import colonial products, including including hinterland products (I’m thinking of the plants used to make the pie) You have a very large network of liquor outlets and a consumer population in this city, which is both industrial and commercial. So it’s all going to work in Ricard’s favor.”

Despite the vagaries of history and consistent legislation governing alcohol consumption, the entrepreneur will be able to bounce back and rely on effective communication and marketing strategies. Movies, sponsorships, spin-offs… “When the Tour de France returned after the war, he was the first to form a caravan. At the end of each stage, in the evenings, he brought singers: Darcelis, Charles Trenet, Annie Cordy.” Jean Watin-Augouard reports.

Paul Ricard talks to his grandson or confides in a journalist, Darcelis sings his hymn to Ricard in the Old Port, Fernandel toasts with Mireille Darc, Oran Demazis shoots in the Camargue… Real nuggets highlight this documentary and add to the many family photos. , movie clips or advertising posters.

The archives are at the service of the fresco, which combines the color of an era, the often romantic life of an extraordinary person and the production of images that have become legendary.

Through this story is also the story of a large part of the 20c age that can be read as a watermark. Because the Ricard brand will accompany the World War, decolonization, the Glorious Thirties, the economic crisis and all major movements and consumption patterns in society…

Paul Ricard, the kid from Marseille
A 52-minute film by Eric Bitu
A France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur / Skopia Films co-production

To be broadcast on France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on Thursday 8 December at 23:05

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