Jaipur Literature Festival: 6 writers share their travel stories
Francesca is a direct descendant of the Cartier family, her great-great-great-grandfather having founded the brand more than 150 years ago. Since graduating with a degree in English Literature from Oxford, she has spent many years traveling the world in search of the true story of her ancestors.
Tell me a bit about the role of travel in the history of Cartier.
“In the 20th century, when Cartier was just based in Paris, the city was the center of the world. in Paris to buy their jewelry, so Cartier didn’t really need to travel. But the three brothers felt it was really important to meet clients in their hometown and build relationships with them. Often, they are became friends, as well as customers. Thus, between them, the three Cartier brothers shared the world and traveled everywhere. For example, my great-grandfather, who ran the London branch, traveled regularly to India. It wasn’t really an easy thing to do at the time – it was a three week boat trip to even reach the country, and then when he got there it was hard to get around. place to place. He would be out for months at a time. But it was really important for him to travel, not only to buy precious stones at the sources, in the bazaars of Delhi, or the sapphire mines in Sri Lanka, or the pearls of the Persian Gulf, but also to meet customers such as than the maharajas and go to the palaces.
Tell us about the role travel has played in your own life.
“I traveled a lot while writing The Cartiers. It’s funny, most of my kids’ vacations and our family trips abroad over the past 10 years have been research trips. When we go to Paris, I take these old envelopes with slightly faded addresses, and we try to find the old addresses of our ancestors. Or we go to India and meet the families that my great-grandfather had known. It’s so meaningful to travel while I research because I then understand history and history in a whole new light, walking in the same footsteps as those who have been there before. So I went to the same places as my great-grandfather and he described them and I could experience the same thing or he had drawn something and I could see what he had drawn. And so for me, travel has become inextricably linked to that – every trip we plan is based on another part of the research, but I love that and wouldn’t change it.
Is there a place in the world that has inspired you more than anywhere else?
“To write my book, I ended up moving to the house where my grandfather had lived in France. I spent every summer vacation there when I was little. When he passed away, we were lucky enough to be able to buy his house, so we moved there with my young children. For me, it’s an incredibly inspiring place. It is linked to all the memories of my grandfather. That’s where I found this trunk of old letters. It’s just a magical place, I love it more than anywhere.