Renaissance man of the south
A Renaissance Man is, according to those in the know at Wikipedia, a term to describe a person who “excels, in a wide variety of subjects or fields”. An ideal born in Renaissance Italy based on the notion expressed by one of its representatives, Leon Battista Alberti: that “a man can do all things if he will,” led to the belief that men should try to embrace universal knowledge and develop their own potential as fully as possible. Leonardo Davinci is a prime example most would cite as deserving of this term. What about a more contemporary example; Do modern day renaissance men still exits? Ah, mais, Oui! have located one in Asheville (NC), and no, he’s not Italian, but French!
Born in Dugny just north of Paris, François Manavit, who indeed from the very beginning, walked, or perhaps skipped to the beat of a different drummer made his first media appearance in a Jean-Claude Brialy film as a school boy and later worked with the Atlick Foundation in Africa to provide assistance to Toureg nomads. In 1984, after returning to Paris, he founded the company Les Télécréateurs, an agency that aided young painters and talented designers to parley their graphic design skills with the media. Anti-racism video clips for festivals and animation films are equally a part of his repertoire.
Beginning in 1992, he was a visual arts instructor in a French high school in Los Angeles for four years, leaving as his legacy a mosaic 50 meters in length on the theme of the French-American friendship. With his wife, a puppeteer, he has introduced American audiences to “le Guignol français” – a well-known character puppet from Lyon.
Fast forward to present day in Asheville, NC, where François Manavit lives, loves and laughs with his wife and children. Obviously a great fan of his home town, he reports that “Asheville is the most convivial and humane city on the east coast with a eclectic population constantly in search of a certain quality of life, very European in fact – outdoor cafés and restaurants everywhere, all in an agreeable setting… what more could one ask for?”
When he’s not filling the bellies of Asheville’s citizens with crèpes from Brittany or breads and pastries that would make you swear your in France, he’s offering a window to France via his radio show The Paris of the South, now in its 104th program. He explains that it took about a year to build an audience of listeners and now that he has, he is filling the airwaves with subjects of depth that affect the lives of his listeners, devoid of fluff or pretense. An instinctual creator committed to promoting French language and culture, his program has captured the interest of RFI (Radio France Internationale) as well as the community.
So if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of hearing this passionate French enthusiast with plenty of “joie de vivre” on air, click the link below to listen to his weekly radio show, The Paris of the South, where you will have the opportunity to embrace the universal learning concept and hear programs this summer on such engaging topics as:
- a surrealist trip to Mexico
- an interview with a French woman residing in Asheville who hid Jews in France in 1940
For more information on The Paris of the South, click here.