An interview with Philippe Dantier, Commercial Officer for Ukraine, Kapriol (Italian fashion distributor)
Which part of Odessa reminds you of your hometown and why?
The historic center of Odessa does not remind me of my hometown but rather the city of Nice where I stayed for a long time and which was Italian for a long time.
Please indicate where you are from?
I am Parisian but my city of heart is Nice where I lived for 12 years from 2007 to 2019.
Did any of your family or friends come to see you in Odessa?
Friends were expected to visit me but due to the pandemic this has not been possible at the moment.
What advice would you give to your compatriots who are planning to come to Odessa for the first time?
I would advise them to learn some Russian and to come in summer rather than winter in order to enjoy both the architectural and historical riches of the city and its seaside resort.
What’s the most interesting thing about your job?
La liberté – Freedom.
Do you think French culture influences Ukrainian culture and how? Can we still see this influence today?
Ukraine has long been part of the Russian Empire which, as everyone knows, was influenced by French culture, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. All the Russian aristocracy spoke French before they spoke Russian. This influence can still be seen today in the Russian language which has many French words and expressions, in the kitchen (винегрет, бефстроганов, котлет etc), architecture.
What do you think is the image of the French for the Ukrainians? In general, what representation do the French have in Ukraine?
I think that for Ukrainians, the French are a people with a great history. The French love wine and gastronomy, they are elegant and refined.
In my opinion the French do not really differentiate between Ukraine and Russia, which they know relatively little about. They think it is a harsh country, far away and in which there is war.
What can Ukrainians learn from the French? What can the French learn from the Ukrainians?
Ukrainians can learn the art of gastronomy from the French and appreciate wine, savoir vivre, good manners, elegance. The French can learn from the Ukrainians their generosity, their aptitude for life and for overcoming difficulties, their human warmth.
What story that happened in Odessa and in connection with the culture and the French language do you prefer?
The story of the Duke of Richelieu.
Imagine that you have to show characteristic elements of French culture (a book, a film, a song, a painting, an actor, a gastronomic specialty, architecture (not the Eiffel Tower) or a monument). What would you choose?
A book: “Belle of the Lord” (“Belle du Seigneur” by Albert Cohen)
A film: “The Great Stroll” (La Grande Vadrouille
a painting: “The Luncheon on the Grass“ (Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Édouard Manet)
An actor: Alain Delon
A gastronomic specialty: Boeuf bourguignon
An architectural element: Arc de Triomphe
This interview is part of a joint-project of Alliance Française and The Odessa Journal, with the purpose to highlight the mutual cultural influence of France and Ukraine, on the occasion of the French Spring Festival.