3. Lupus goes shopping

The search for our next filming location took us high up the steep mountainside to the picturesque village of Monticello - or Monticellu - as it is in Corsican. We had noted this place name from our conversation with Jean (the owner of Café des Platanes) and with Hilaire, Toussant and Pierre. They had given us a name: "Jo Jo" and probably a lot more detail which had become lost in translation. They had mentioned these details initially as we spoke at the pier of L'Île-Rousse.

Now just an hour or two later, having shown the footage of Place Pascal Pauli, we finished our coffees and reviewed the notes that I had written in my notebook. We needed to visit this new place – Monticello. But how to get there? We thanked our new acquaintances at Café des Platanes for the coffee and for their help with our mission to find our next location and bade them farewell.

We had noticed a street sign that advertised the location of a tourist office nearby. We decided to visit and tell them about our project and ask about transport to Monticello. The staff there were very helpful, and seemed impressed with our terrible attempts at the French language. Uli lead the conversation while I showed the still frame photos. I pointed out how we understood that the 1970 still frame photo (shown below) was taken in Monticello. The charming staff informed us that there was a free bus running to Monticello approximately every hour, which local people could use to travel around the outlying villages and towns. This came as welcome news! We thanked the lovely ladies at the tourist office and set off immediately to catch the bus. It was due to depart in less than 30 minutes from outside the Casino Supermarché. We found the bus stop without difficulty, and took a seat on a shady bench.

We boarded the minibus when it arrived, greeting the driver and requesting our stop Monticello. We introduced ourselves and learned that our driver was Jean-André. A very pleasant local fellow who was happy to help us and made sure we knew the details of the return timetable. Wherever we had been, the people had welcomed us with friendliness and an eager curiosity. We were always quite relieved and impressed by them doing so! 

Soon we were making our way uphill along the narrow and winding D63 toward Monticello. We smiled with delight as a classic Citroën Acadiane passed in the opposite direction, one of several old Citroën we had noticed driving around. It is so satisfying to see these beautiful old machines in daily use. We marvelled at the sea views to our left as the bus climbed and the vista became truly stunning - the beach of L'Île-Rousse and the bright red ferry docked at Île de la Pietra adding a striking contrast against the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. 

Within 8 minutes we had arrived. We thanked Jean-André for the short drive and exited the small minivan. The sun was high in the sky and the ambient temperature warm as we moved between light and shade - with great expectation - to the village square. Outside a bar some men were seated, sipping coffee and enjoying their lunch break. After a moment they departed and there was hardly a soul to be seen. We surveyed our surroundings and marvelled again at the views which continued to surprise us as they lurked atop the roofs or between the antique stone buildings. We found ourselves whispering as we meandered along the street, such was the silence of this beautiful place. Exchanging glances of disbelief as we stopped to admire something wonderful as if to say "can you believe we are in such a place?". We now stood in the square facing the little church.

Left - Lupus (with basket) and 3 local people*. Right - A recent Google Streetview image.

Examining the still frame photograph which features Lupus interacting with local people (above left), we began comparing the image to our surroundings. Looking closely, the bell tower of the church - Église Saint-Sébastien - can be seen in the upper right side of the 1970 still frame image. This landmark confirmed the filming location.

We noticed a shady area and a small dwelling to our left. We realised that this now shaded area was the exact spot where the vegetable stall was set out during the scene in 1970 ! The comparison video clip below shows the same door frame and general area. Things have changed only slightly in the years since filming, but the door frame and steps are still there!

It was thrilling to have discovered another filming location and to stand in the very spot where Lupus went shopping for supplies to take back to Grasshopper Island. We now had documentary evidence to prove that we had discovered it. A great result ! We didn't know it yet, but something really extraordinary was about to happen. Uli was eager as always to ask a local person about this mystery man named "Jo Jo". Perhaps we could show the screen capture photograph to someone local. Maybe someone would know him? So we decided to find somewhere to eat, and perhaps ask ! By now it was after 2pm and high time we ate something.

Then and now: comparing the location - a quiet corner of Monticello © GrasshopperIsland.net

Now Monticello is a very small village, and there seemed to be only one obvious place. A sign over some tables and chairs read "A Pasturella". It was directly adjoining the filming location above, right next to the blue Citroën Acadiane visible in our comparison clip above. Another old Citroën ! This fine establishment had hotel accommodation above a restaurant and bar at street level. We took a seat right outside and decided we would eat some lunch. Presently we were joined by the proprietor, who welcomed us and asked what we might like to eat. We made our selection from the menu, ordered two beers and the gentleman went inside.

When he returned we got to talking - as usual with some difficulty but successfully nonetheless. Uli suggested I show the gentleman the still frame photo. As he peered at it, we asked "Do you know anybody in this photo from 1970?". Without hesitation the gentleman said "Yes, I know this man. He is my father".

We were completely flabbergasted! "Your father!?", Uli exclaimed. "Is his name Jo Jo?".

"Yes, my father Jo Jo", he replied. Well, you could have knocked us from our seats with a feather! We introduced ourselves and learned that the proprietor was named Stéphane and that in 1970, he would have been just 2 years old. "Quick, Chris, show him the footage", Uli encouraged, and I quickly fetched the iPad from my bag. We asked Stéphane if he knew that a British TV series had been filmed here. He replied that he did not know this, neither was he aware that his father had appeared as an "extra"!

As I played the scene - Stéphane watched intently and was very surprised and delighted to see his father motioning and interacting with dear old Lupus. Stéphane's father it turned out was the young man wearing the light blue shirt. Friends of his gathered behind me to watch the image on the screen and everyone was delighted, finding humour and fun in the short clip. He asked if he could have a copy of this clip. We promised Stéphane that we would be delighted to send this short scene via email within the coming days. Which of course we did.

Stéphane (left) and friends watch a clip from Ep. 9 in which his father Jo Jo can be seen

Soon our food arrived and we sat there on the quiet village square, marvelling at what had just transpired. Here, just 15 meters from the filming location, was the son of a person who appeared in Grasshopper Island, albeit ever so briefly as a background character. It really was quite an extraordinary thing to absorb! After we enjoyed our lunch, Stéphane graciously returned and we talked some more, in a mix of English and French. He told us that A Pasturella was built in the late 1960's and renovated in the decades after. He also mentioned that he remembered meeting the English actor Frank Muir. At that time Stéphane would have been quite young but he recalled that Mr Muir often frequented the restaurant. He would have known Jo Jo, the original proprietor of A Pasturella quite well. Alas, after some minutes our chat came to an end when some more customers arrived, and "duty called" for Stéphane.

What an extraordinary day. Uli and I sipped our local beers - Pietra - which were quite delicious and refreshing. We were both smiling from ear to ear. What a thrilling afternoon! As we prepared to return to our base in Calvi, we could not have hoped for a more successful "location hunt". But once again, in our effort to find a physical location - we had inadvertently found something equally as interesting! Fate had intervened and placed us at exactly the right place and time. We had uncovered another living relative of one of the people who interacted with the Grasshopper Island story itself. Indeed, a descendant of a person who appears on screen - giving us a wonderful story to tell. 

We highly recommend A Pasturella by the way - Stéphane was a wonderful host and we were extremely impressed with our delicious food. We told him we would be back – and indeed we did return some days later. The search for the “little house” - possibly the holy grail of Grasshopper Island location hunting – would lead us back to Monticello and a winding hillside hike!

Before that, we needed to find the beach. Not because we were hot - but because we were intent on discovering the very spot where Toughy, Smarty and Mouse first made landfall. That's the topic of our next blog post - now available here:

4. Finding the beach

If you would like to experience or even stay at A Pasturella - you can find details at their website:

*Update: Also appearing in the photograph, with JoJo, is Dominique Ferreri - the owner of the little grocery store that once existed in Monticello. We have yet to identify the young lady. 


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