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A Journey back to France with Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

Rendez-Vous with Yasmin and Kumar this month makes a journey to the Horagolla Walawwa in Attanagalla to chat to Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the fourth Executive President of Sri Lanka and the country’s only woman President to date.

Francophone and francophile, Chandrika Kumaratunga studied in France and became the first Sri Lankan to be awarded the Prestigious Medal of Commander in the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest rank of the National Order of France.

Going back half a century and more to 1967, she talks about why she deliberately choose to study in France despite coming from an Anglo-Saxon family, whereas her father and sister chose the University of Oxford in the UK.

The following year, 1968, were the student revolts in Paris. How did these events influence her thinking as a student at that time and later as a political leader?

Speaking in French and English, Mrs. Kumaratunga reminisces her stay in France, her passion for cultural activities, literature, theatre, cinema and the years she spent in Aix-en-Provence and its celebrated Mt. Sainte Victoire which, at times, inspired the young Chandrika.


Yasmin then takes viewers on a journey of Aix-en-Provence, a city in Southern France in the region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur and the birthplace of post-Impressionist French painter Paul Cezanne (1839-1906).

Cezanne established himself at a place called Chemin de la Marguerite from where he enjoyed the highest view point of Mt. Sainte Victoire


In the last decade of his life he started a series of paintings of the famous Sainte-Victoire mountain which dominates the landscape everywhere. It became his favorite subject resulting in 44 oil paintings and 43 watercolors which testify to Cezanne’s fascination of the mountain.

His work equipment, the models of his final Still Life paintings and his furniture are still to found, as he left them, in his studio.

This nostalgic journey spans five plus decades of Mrs. Kumaratunga’s life and in conclusion and in retrospect, we asked her : “Is there anything that Chandrika Kumaratunga would still like to do in France that Chandrika Bandaranaike did not get to do?  

All this and lots more interesting stories from the former President on her life in France … on Rendez-Vous with Yasmin and Kumar on Wednesday 30th March at 19h (Sri Lanka time) on the YouTube channel of the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.




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