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Zest for life

(Photograph) - It is spring in Menton and the locals decorate floats with oranges and lemons for the Fete des Citrons. Their thoughts go back, perhaps inevitably, to the year 50BC, a year of significance for France. Gaul is being overrun by the Romans. One small village is holding out against Romans based in the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium.

Wacky, manic, the indomitable Gauls defy the armed might of the Imperial City.

As pictured here, the craty Asterix plots with lugubrious Getafix the druid, in a scene as quintessentially French as the citrons from which they are made. Asterix is more than a cartoon character, he is a symbol of modern French success. Since Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny invented Asterix in 1959, more than 280 million copies of Asterix books have been bought. Although Goscinny died in 1977, Uderzo continues to produce adventures: so far, 30 books containing 14,000 drawings.

Victoria Neumark

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