Tuesday, 30 November 2010

French tourist town to dedicate 2012 as the Year of India

Descendent of General Allard to take part in celebrations

Saint Tropez, a picturesque town in southeast France which attracts about five million tourists annually, is all set to dedicate 2012 as the year of India - all for a love story that binds the two in history.

Claude Maniscalco, director of Saint Tropez Tourism, who addressed the media in the capital Tuesday, said they were in talks with the Indian ministry of tourism and are hopeful of drawing up the plans for celebrations by the first half of 2011.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is also expected to be signed between the two around the same time.

'We met the Indian tourism minister Monday and she is very positive about the Year of India celebrations in Saint Tropez in 2012. We don't want the celebrations to be a one-event thing. It will be a year-long affair so a lot of planning has to go behind before we sign an agreement,' Maniscalco said.

According to him, history is the reason why they have chosen India, despite the fact that only a miniscule of their tourists come from India.

'My great grandfather, the famous General Allard of Saint Tropez, was a Napolean officer. After the Waterloo battle, he visited Persia and then India where he served under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, sovereign of the Lahore empire, then Punjab and today Pakistan,' Maniscalco said.

'He married the daughter of the Raja of Chamba, Bannu Pan Dei. He brought his family back to Saint Tropez and returned to Punjab after being named Legate of France under Ranjit Singh by King Louis Phillipe. He died and was buried in Lahore, after which his wife converted to Christianity. She later died and was buried in Saint Tropez,' he added.

'It is on the basis of this love story that we want to reaffirm the relations between India and Saint Tropez,' he said.

According to Maniscalco, the celebrations will include polo competitions, golf tournaments, film festivals, fashion shows, music concerts, dance and other cultural programmes.

'It will be an opportunity for India too since its diversity will be showcased to all our tourists,' he said.

Tuesday 23rd November, 2010 (IANS)

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