Interview by Alexandre Arditti
Photos : Frédérique Veysset
She is one of the essential actresses of French cinema, of those whose charm so elegantly imprints the film, and whose voice, recognizable among a thousand, makes the viewer shiver … From the top of her forty films, Virginie Ledoyen will have crossed paths with legendary actors and actresses – from Marcelo Mastroiani to Leonardo Di Caprio via Gérard Depardieu, Michel Piccoli, Daniel Auteuil, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart or Isabelle Adjani – but also from some of the greatest French directors, from Claude Chabrol to François Ozon, via Olivier Assayas, Benoit Jacquot, Jean-Paul Rappeneau or Robert Guédiguian. Outside the sets, Virginie Ledoyen is an epicurean at heart, curious about others, a woman of character who enjoys life and traveling to discover new horizons. For his first visit to the Maldives – a heavenly destination if there ever was one – we had the pleasure of accompanying him for an enchanted break in the idyllic setting of the Shangri-La Villingili hotel, located in the far south. of the archipelago, on Addu atoll. Interview on stilts, live from paradise!
In the collective imagination, the Maldives represent the quintessence of paradise islands. Is this your first time here?
Virginie Ledoyen: Absolutely! This is the very first time that I have come here and discovered this mythical destination, and I have to say that it is truly idyllic. You immediately feel this strange feeling of being cut off from the world, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. And this feeling lasts throughout the stay! Long-haul flight, seaplane, then speeboat … getting here is worth it! V.L. Indeed, but even if the trip is long, the reward is on arrival!
Why did you choose the Shangri-La Villingili, which ticks all the boxes of the paradisiacal spot?
V.L. For this first time in the Maldives, I have the chance to experience the destination in the best conditions. The hotel is only accessible by boat, and the latter is nestled on a peninsula where calm and extraordinary silence reign. It feels almost alone in the world, and it is a fantastic feeling that I also have the pleasure of sharing with my daughter.
How would you describe this little paradise?
V.L. It is a sublime setting, but not at all ostentatious. Here, not “bling bling”, nor anything flashy. It is a hotel on a human scale, you feel protected there, a bit like in a cocoon.
“In the Maldives, the relationship to time becomes different…you can really disconnect!”
Your favorites during this stay?
V.L. My villa on stilts. We find ourselves sleeping in the middle of the lagoon, surrounded by water, it’s pretty crazy! (laughs)
Your ideal day here?
V.L. The day always begins with a swim in the sea. You just have to go down the small staircase that flows directly into the lagoon from the villa: it’s magic! Then you get on your bike to devour a breakfast of anthology. It is really very pleasant to move around the hotel in this way, between a swim, a lunch or a spa treatment. Then, it’s snorkelling in the lagoon or on the coral reef, where you can observe a very rich marine fauna and flora thanks to the incredibly clear water.
In short, a stay closer to nature …
V.L. Yes, the days go by this way, we follow our own rhythm, we are a little slowed down, it’s life in the islands … In the end, it’s a pretty organic feeling because the day we are very often in the water, and at night, you can admire, simply by looking up, thousands of stars and constellations in a pure and illuminated sky.
In the end, what impressions will you leave with the Maldives?
V.L. The memory of a great experience because as soon as you set foot here, your relationship to time becomes different. You can really disconnect and recharge your batteries. We find ourselves in a completely different energy than in our daily life, and that feels great!
“Sleeping in the middle of a lagoon surrounded by water is pretty crazy! “
Has travel, like comedy, always been a part of your life?
V.L. Yes absolutely, I have always enjoyed traveling a lot. And thanks to my job, I sometimes even have the opportunity to stay in a country for quite a long time, sometimes two or three months. This is another way of seeing the country, the people, their culture and their pace. It’s a real luxury for me when possible, which was the case for example during filming in Thailand, Morocco and Lebanon. I love discovering new cultures, meeting people, hearing other languages …
During the shooting of the film La Plage in 1999 (by Danny Boyle with Leonardo Di Caprio and Guillaume Canet, Editor’s note), did you have time to visit the south of Thailand and its dream islands? And what memories do you keep of this country?
V.L. We had time because for La Plage, we spent several months in the south of the country where we were filming in Koh Phi Phi as well as in Krabi, but also north of Bangkok. We also stayed quite a long time in Phuket where we were staying, with most of the team, which were Thai. Northern Thailand, too, is beautiful.
The famous Maya Bay beach, where you shot at the time, is now closed to the public until further notice, to preserve the local ecosystem …
V.L. Yes I am aware of it. Unfortunately, this is a rather worrying phenomenon that is happening all over the planet…
“I love discovering new cultures, meeting people, hearing other languages…”
You have children: what are the favorite destinations for your family vacation?
V.L. Well for example, I love Morocco! Its culture, its mountains, its gastronomy… In addition, you can travel there with your children without any problem. Moroccans are so friendly and welcoming. I go there regularly as a personal pleasure, but I have also had the chance to shoot there, because it’s a country where we shoot a lot of films these days. A destination like the Maldives is also ideal for families to take children out of their daily lives, and disconnect them both literally and figuratively! (laughs)
Do you attach importance to the geopolitical situation in choosing your destinations?
V.L. In principle, I am not very fearful for myself… But I am necessarily attentive to destinations and events when I have to travel with my children. Let’s say that I try to adapt my choice of destinations, and for that, I always take a look at the recommendations of the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which generally provides excellent information, in real time, on the risks or the situation. local news from each country or region of the world. Besides, I would love to be able to visit Iran one day!
The destination that struck you the most?
V.L. Without hesitation, Japan! This is one of the few places in the world where you find yourself totally disoriented. A beautiful country that knows how to blend the old and the new world in a very impressive way. And it’s very beautiful.
“Japan is one of the few places in the world where you find yourself totally disoriented …”
Are you more of a city dweller or a lover of large, bucolic spaces?
V.L. It all depends on what I want. Originally, I am more of an urban nature. I am Parisian, born in Paris. I would surely find it hard not to live in the city, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the countryside, nature, and from discovering new landscapes. In fact, I like a lot of different things. On the one hand, I can look for the sweetness of Mauritius, and on the other, fall for Istanbul, a surprising city that lives a lot at night.
What is your favorite thing to do while traveling?
V.L. Well, to be honest, there is something that interests me especially when I travel, and that is food! (laughs) I love discovering and tasting local specialties. I see gastronomy as another way of approaching the culture of a country. In Africa for example, but it is also true in many parts of the world, when people welcome you and invite you to share a meal, their hospitality is also a way of meaning things to you, of creating a bond with you. ..
A striking gastronomic memory?
V.L. When I was filming in Lebanon, for example, I was invited to dinner with the parents of the Lebanese actors with whom I was filming. In this country, that means something. The meal was delicious. It must be said that Lebanese cuisine is really delicious, and too bad if you bring a few kilos in your luggage! (laughs). In some countries, even people who have very little means know how to put the small dishes in the big ones to receive you and make you happy!
“I see gastronomy as another way of approaching the culture of a country. “
Closer to home, in France, where do you like to take refuge to escape Parisian madness?
V.L. As far as I’m concerned, my refuge is in the Landes, on the Hossegor side. Here I find an environment that I love, with the great Atlantic beaches – even if I don’t surf. It is a beautiful region where I feel good and where I return very often. In addition, the southwest is also a land of gastronomy, with the Basque Country just a stone’s throw away.
The country you’ve always dreamed of visiting?
V.L. Cuba. But I have the feeling that it is not too late to wait any longer to visit the country before big changes take place, and the country opens a new chapter in its history.
Thanks to : Marilyne Morin (Shangri-La Villingili Maldives), Eric Ritter (Celebrity consulting), Frédérique Veysset (Stylism)