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Sahara

Day 27: Chinguetti

Michael Palin - SaharaI seem to have had all Chinguetti on my side, for as I walk back to the hotel later I keep getting waves of acknowledgement, broad grins and cheery shouts of 'Champion!'

My stock with the owners of the Hôtel Fort Saganne is already pretty high.

'Vous êtes le deuxième star ici!' they enthuse, 'le premier star' being Gerard Depardieu, who stayed and worked here whilst making what was by all accounts a very bad film called Fort Saganne in 1984. I only wish their facilities matched their view of my status. Though I am in Depardieu's room, the generator provides light and electricity only fitfully, the bedside light is operated from a switch 20 feet away from the bed, the pillow is made from some form of granite and the painting and decoration seem to have been completed by someone with a serious grudge against society.

It all becomes a bit clearer when they reveal that Depardieu didn't stay in this room at all, but in a Winnebago parked outside. They even show me the spot.

'It was parked over there!'

My room was the one used in the film itself.

As Fort Saganne was all about the terrible privations endured by members of the French Foreign Legion, this explains a lot.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 27
  • Country/sea: Mauritania
  • Place: Chinguetti
  • Book page no: 96

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