Laurent Ournac has been managing the Paradis campsite since 2006 - JEAN-PIERRE AMET / TF1

  • Camping Paradis continues to broadcast its eleventh season with a new episode on Monday on TF1.
  • The series is still as popular as ever and a network of real campsites in its image has emerged from the ground this year.
  • Laurent Ournac, who has played Tom Delormes since 2006, spoke to  20 Minutes  about the consequences of the Covid-19 on filming, and the future of the program.

Take the flip flops out of the closet, brush with sunscreen and put your beach towel in front of your TV. It's good, you are ready to watch the new episode of Camping Paradis broadcast this Monday on TF1. Fiction, created in 2006, is still as popular and even has the luxury of piercing the screen.

Since June 2, twelve franchised campsites in the name of the series have opened their doors in five different regions. Laurent Ournac, who has been wearing the series for fourteen years, returned for 20 Minutes to the Camping Paradis adventure , from stopping filming due to the coronavirus a few months ago, in need of still having popular fictions on television .

You were filming in the mountains for the next season of Camping Paradis a few days before the start of confinement…

We started the first week of filming on Tuesday March 10. He stopped while he was three weeks away. It was a special atmosphere, because we had the news continuously. In the team, a lot of people are relocated and come from Marseille or Paris. Everyone was a little worried about organizing their family life with children who no longer go to school when we are 500 kilometers from home. We met at 6 a.m. on Monday and the town hall announced that the ski area was closed, the station was ending its season suddenly, and that put a stop to this filming.

When will you resume filming?

We will resume filming in Martigues in mid-August. We will find the characters in the Paradis campsite and we should finish the skiing episode by the end of the year, surely in December.

You are going to tour with Patrick Sébastien. Did the choice of his arrival come naturally?

In one of the next episodes, we have a character who corresponds to him in terms of age, maturity… We contacted him, we told him about the project and he was seduced by the idea. He is one of the personalities who symbolizes popular culture on TV. Camping Paradis  is very similar to this. There is a logic between the media personality that he is, hyperpopular, and the family series. As a kid, I grew up with Patrick Sébastien watching his shows, with this culture. It brings me back to childhood memories, to evenings with my parents watching  Carnival! . It is part of my popular cultural heritage, I am delighted to be able to tour with it in a few weeks.

You are making, for the third time, the unreleased episode which will be broadcast on Monday on TF1. Why is it important for you to put on this cap?

It's a way to invest myself more in the series and to challenge myself differently. When we shoot for many years with the same role, the same shirt, in the same universe, you have to keep the freshness of the first episodes and I found that it was a good way to get out of the routine, to invest myself differently with the teams. When you are the director of a production, you are in contact with all the trades working on the film, and I met some members of the team with whom I had no contact as a that actor. And from a pragmatic point of view, I also think about the future. I love being in front of a camera but I think there will inevitably be times when you may no longer want to see me in front of the camera. This will be an opportunity to keep this passion, that of fiction, by being a little more in the shade.

In the margins of the series, a franchise of real Paradis campsites was created this year. What does it consist of?

In each establishment, we will find the modernized decorations of the series. It will not be just decoration, but a real supermarket, a real stage, a real bar, a real restaurant. There are a dozen, some are by the sea, others more inland. These are campsites with a different offer depending on the region and the heritage around, but always with this welcoming philosophy. It's not just for fans, these are not museum campsites celebrating the series, but we use the name to offer a common culture.

What role do you have as an ambassador?

I am their muse. If we were in fashion, I would be their privileged model, their voice, their body. As I represent the series for fifteen years, it was consistent to be the image. I also participate with them in a reflection on the philosophy of Camping Paradis , even if I am not a specialist in tourism. We put in parallel our ideas for evenings of animation, themes. It is not I who open campsites, I am not the director!

When the series was launched in 2006, did you imagine that the Paradis campsites would open for real?

We do not imagine that the universe, the poetry that we brought into the stories that we told become a reality and that it is a brand sufficiently anchored in the hearts of the French to say that they would spend their vacation in a Paradise campsite. These are not derivative products, it is not a mug or a polo shirt, people will come on vacation to find a state of mind and a way of conceiving the holidays, it is all the stronger.

Popular fictions like Camping Paradis  or Joséphine Ange Gardien  are often criticized. Is the arrival of campsites in reality proof of their strength?

We have been present since 2006, I think we are rooted in popular culture. I see people who are 25 years old today, who watched the first episodes at the time and grew up with Camping Paradis . That doesn't mean they're going to watch all of the episodes today, but it's part of their television culture anyway. To think that the series we are making has also marked a generation of people because it brings them back to memories, it's hypertouching and rewarding.

So there is still room for family drama on television…

Today, we are a fiction almost timeless. We are not to compete with what is being created today because we are not in the same codes of these series, with a more diversified offer, richer in visual and narrative investments . There is a touch in French fiction like Joséphine Ange Gardien  and Camping Paradis  which is a bit historical. We are obviously closer to the end than to the beginning. We've been here for 14 years. I wish us to last more than twenty years yet, but being realistic, we tell ourselves that things will stop and, after so many years, it is normal that we also think of the end. Despite everything, I remain convinced that that does not mean that we do not have our place. There is room for ultramodern things with a young generation but that does not mean that we must be put in the garbage for the moment. This is why we have never changed our recipes, it is useless to want to make young with old. It is because it was made like this that people liked this series and built their memories with it, it must be assumed until the end.

So you do not feel the urge to leave your character of Tom Delormes?

I don't want to leave. Families are created after fifteen years. We work with the same actors, the same directors, the same team, it's also a small business that runs. We don't want to separate, we want it to last as long as possible because we take pleasure in making it the traditional way and on the sidelines of what we do.


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