With humor and sometimes cruelty, Françoise d'Origny tells of her life as an aristocrat in a mutant country. When most baronesses or countesses indulge in good works, she has done a great work. 


The head is imperious, but in no way haughty, the slender pace, a quality of presence in movement that reflects a natural refinement and immediately makes you understand that, well rooted in its aristocratic roots, Françoise d'Origny leads his life with a non-negotiable freedom. The title of his latest book proves it in his own way: Those days that are no longer (Fauves editions). A verse from Aragon, laureate of the Lenin Prize for Peace, epigraphed over 300 pages that would have delighted Proust!

The fragility of being

Everything starts at the Château de Villiers, in Seine-et-Oise, where Françoise d'Origny was born at a time that Jean Renoir made a vitriolic painting in Rules of the Game. The scenography fits perfectly. With its horseshoe-shaped buildings, its triangular pediment, its first signs of decrepitude and especially its occupants - François Louis Hutteau d'Origny, his wife Gilonne de Jannel de Vaureal, their children, Françoise, therefore, and his brother Henri, as well that a pair of Persian greyhounds, Farouk and Farida, "Very beautiful and very arrogant", without forgetting the number of grandparents, guests, close and distant relatives - Villiers would have had plenty to fill several "dramatic fantasies" punctuated by hunting parties, receptions, weddings and as many funerals. Life as it goes under the best auspices. This until the war, which puts these characters of Beaumarchais to the test of reality. While the children are brought to kill a pig, the parents throw themselves without blinking into the Resistance. Indeed, a single visit to the free zone, in Vichy exactly, where she finds herself in the elevator of the Hotel du Parc with Pétain, is enough to Gilonne d'Origny to, once back, declare to the dean of the clan : "My mother, I assure you, the Marshal is a junk! " Villiers immediately became a very active rallying and intelligence center. "And I was proud, note their daughter, that they risked everything, their lives, their resources and even their family and that their homeland was for them "hunger, misery and love" (Aragon again!) "

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War is needed as a first break from which the awareness of the fragility of being, and also to have it, will not leave Françoise - Viscount d'Origny will soon be forced to get rid of Villiers, while that the viscountess will get rid of the viscount. Who knows if his daughter's predilection for painting is not the result of an attempt to "save" both her loved ones and the places she loves. "The more we represent the human being in the atmosphere that surrounds him, the more we specify our belief in the great loneliness of man. " Amongst so many things that are taught to Francoise, this sentence pronounced by Hans Staude, her teacher of painting, seems to have a rank of dogmatic truth. Indeed, the book begins with an almost pretentious confession, "I'm never alone," but the following shows rather the opposite. The socialities in which Francoise d'Origny participates must not completely absorb her, because she describes them with the humor and accuracy that are born of detachment. Here is a sample, which presents Marie-Laure de Noailles and dates from 1957: "The mistress of the house was the synthesis of all the liberties that one can take with conventions, when one belongs to the highest of the pavement, that one can all allow oneself since one is irremovable, indelible, that one is titled, intelligent, cultured, nasty and rich. And, being ugly, she had nothing to lose, even age could do nothing on her. " It is to say the cordiality of the blue blood! And as for the "synthesis", Françoise d'Origny sends it as if she was operating the guillotine: "It was the milieu where the art of inhuman intercourse was cultivated, a court art. The feelings had to be temperate. It was fun, even though we did not really enjoy it. It was close to boredom without ever sinking. " Still, one hated it with courtesy, that one was disgusted with it with a sense of appropriateness and a lot of wit.

Vicomtesse became commoner

Last break, 1968 will significantly change the situation. Certainly, while barricades rise in Paris, Francoise d'Origny always runs dinners with friends, her evening dress concealed under an old coat. But at Alexandre, the inevitable hairdresser of the gentry, the atmosphere has changed. In April, the ladies were still called from one end of the show to the other by name and title. After May, things are different: "The salon was unrecognizable. The armchairs were lined up in front of walls of mirrors, without hierarchy, without rank, in an equal manner, all precedence abolished. " However, is the environment really affected? How does the question of the emancipation of women arise in what must be called the nobility? In the magnificent lounge of his mansion of 7arrondissement, in the hands of the family for five generations, Françoise d'Origny decides the debate: "Women in this milieu have always had the power. What has changed is that some of them started to work. " She does not escape either. Without waiting for the revolution of morals, Francoise d'Origny divorces her first husband, the fanciful and knight Viscount Amaury d'Harcourt, devotes himself entirely to painting, wins of success - it is awarded the prize Eugene Carrière -, earns a living . At the same time, the Review of both worlds publishes his article on the henry, passion inherited from his mother. " I plunged unrestrained into the universe, codified and sumptuous, French only, that of the vénerie, where the instinct becomes quest, where the wild drama between carnivorous and herbivorous becomes ritual, where the archaic hunt becomes art imprint of gravity ", We read in introduction to the many beautiful passages devoted to hunting, that Françoise d'Origny gives up when she is forced to sell her horses to solve her financial problems. And it's far from being the biggest upheaval of his life.

Decided never to remarry again, she changes her mind and marries in second marriage a prominent mathematician, Jean-Claude Simon. Stupor and tremors in high society: "One of my neighbors at the table, good kind, good name, good title, asked me, at the entrance, how it could be that having been vicomtesse d'Harcourt, I can accept to call me Mrs. Simon, and that Had I then against my environment for not having sought to remarry there? I almost strangled. After taking my breath and swallowing, I assured him that I had nothing against this medium, "the good one," and that I should have married Monsieur Simon, even if he had been duke or marquis. " It probably requires such certainty to make a couple last. Sectarian in his own way, the scientific circle surrounding Jean-Claude Simon approaches with suspicion his wife coming from the high. Wrongly. Read as a fascinating sociological study, Françoise d'Origny's book testifies to the ability of the aristocracy to live with the times, circumstances. Not always without regret, according to our host who hates to see his granddaughters wearing jeans.