Posted on January 3, 2023
"Walk with Prune and Apple" is a unique audio tour in the town of Verneuil-sur-Avre for young and old children!
In this playful audio guide, Prune and Apple take children aged 4 to 6 for a short walk in the town of Verneuil-sur-Avre. Listed among the Most Beautiful Detours in France, the old medieval city is a veritable open-air museum. The storytelling duo invites children to raise their noses, observe, play, listen to stories or sing in the alleys of the city.
This new tool designed in partnership with the Normandy South Eure Tourist Office is available free of charge on your tablet or phone with izi.travel/fr. Follow the circuit in connected version or download the circuit beforehand.
Exclusive interview with Plum and Apple
Who are Plum and Apple?
Apple : They are two great friends born in Normandy, with very different characters. Pomme is the scholar, passionate about history and architecture.
Plum: Prune is the little ingenue. She asks a thousand questions like a child marveling at everything.
In real life, Pomme is embodied by Christine Godon…
Christina: First and foremost, I am a director. I started my career with acting classes for all ages. Then, I created my theater troupe “le Cube à Essai” which gradually specialized in historical shows and theatrical visits. Evreux, Gaillon, Louvier, Acquigny, Vernon… For 15 years, the troupe has been discovering historic sites throughout the Eure department and in particular the Saint-Nicolas de Verneuil abbey.
And Prune is played by Pakita…
Pakistan: I am a “recess” schoolteacher! (Laughter) I taught in several primary schools and in particular in Condé-sur-Iton. I also have a theatrical background. I had difficulty bringing performance professionals to the small country schools. So I decided to create my character.
I became the Pakita fairy. I first played in schools in Normandy then at Center Parcs where my real life as a fairy began in theaters and concert halls in France and abroad. I even had the pleasure of playing at the Olympia! I have recorded CDs, written many children's books while remaining as much of a schoolteacher as possible because I love helping children grow up.
Today I live near here. I still write and I still perform in different shows.
In real life, Christine (Apple) and Pakita (Prune) have shared a true friendship for over 30 years!
Today, you are launching this new audioguide project for children together! Why in Verneuil-sur-Avre?
Christina: Because, in the Eure department, Verneuil is one of the most interesting towns for its heritage.
Pakistan: The Vernolians are incredibly warm and generous! I was away for more than 15 years from the Verno scene and when I came back, people hadn't forgotten me. They are extremely loyal to good memories!
For me, this loyalty and this trust have a price, so we have to give it back to them!
What is the purpose of this audio guide?
Christina: Introduce children to guided tours. Show them that visiting a city can be fun while learning lots of things. Make them want, later, to participate in real guided tours.
Pakistan: Children don't really like walking. This tool is also an argument for parents and grandparents who wish to walk with their children.
We want to facilitate transgenerational moments but also exercise the curiosity of children.
Pakistan: Nowadays, awakening the appetite of the youngest is not so simple!
With the internet or television, they are interested in everything and nothing at the same time. Their ability to concentrate is fragile. They constantly pass from one piece of information to another without remembering anything. With this playful walk, we create life, interaction.
Christina: This audio journey has the same benefits as a cartoon that they watch over and over again. With this application, they can do and redo the ride at will, listen to the stories again and play with us again whenever they want.
Pakistan: It's another form of live performance, but it also leaves a significant trace in the child's memory!
How was this audioguide project born?
Pakistan: We wanted to play as a duo in the carriage that circulates on the occasion of Horse-drawn carriage stories of Verneuil. So we went to ask Annabelle Levrel, Director of the Tourist Office. For logistical and security reasons, but also because of the sanitary conditions linked to covid-19, she refused our offer.
Christina: On the other hand, she offered us a different format, adapted to current health conditions. A free game booklet already exists for 7-12 year olds wishing to discover the city freely while having fun. But for those who can't read yet, she thought an audio guide would be a good solution.
Have you done this sort of thing before?
Christina: No. But the challenge thrilled us!
Pakistan: We immediately saw the completeness.
Christina: That's it ! For me, doing a theatrical visit was very much in my field. As for Pakita, she has this ability to transmit knowledge to children in a fun way.
Pakistan: Yes, in my books, I'm used to using vocabulary suitable for the youngest. So when I heard Christine talk to me about churches, centuries and architecture, I immediately understood that I was going to have a role to play! (Laughter)
Christina: It's complicated to explain something historical in language understood by children. Everything had to be deconstructed to make it something accessible.
How to talk about history and heritage to children under 7?
Christina: A toddler has limited attention span. So you have to know how to keep your full attention with games, sound effects, songs, stories...
Pakistan: For me, it was like putting on a traveling show.
We accompany the child in his discovery and we do not leave him on the side of the road in front of something he does not understand!
How long have you worked on this project?
Pakistan: It took us several months, with intense phases of non-stop work and breaks of several days allowing us to take a step back from our work.
How do you make an audio guide?
Christina: First there is work on the ground. What route to complete in less than 40 minutes? The strongest constraint being that of security:
where to cross the road, what to draw attention to without danger, which sidewalk to favor...
Pakistan: We had to remove things that were interesting but too high for a child's gaze or too dangerous because it required him to cross several times...
After that ?
Christina: Once the circuit was drawn on a plan, we moved on to the "what are we talking about?" ". We had our choices validated by the heritage manager of the Tourist Office.
The history of the city is so rich that there is a plethora of things to tell! Only, for young children, it is complicated…
Pakistan: Because you have to follow Christine when she talks about historical periods! Well yes, the XVIe century for example, that's fine, but me, at 5 years old, I count the days in sleep and I still have trouble with the notions of “yesterday” and “tomorrow”! And then she talks to me about Jean Bertin's castle or mill when they were demolished… Today, I can't see anything! Why am I being told about a monument that doesn't exist?! (Laughter)
The itinerary, the monuments, the vocabulary… Now do we have to play the role of Plum and Apple?
Christina: Indeed. We entrusted our texts and our plan to Eric Jacquemin, our sound engineer, so that he could familiarize himself with the project before starting the recording in the studio.
Pakistan: Eric is used to editing videos or soundtracks for youth shows. If he had let me, I would have made a thousand wacky sound effects with forks or other objects to mimic war, the dragon or water… The soundtrack would have been endless!
Offering us cuts and reframing, we finally managed to record 17 soundtracks and two videos totaling 26 minutes of listening time.
His outside view of the project and his experience therefore allowed us to go to the essentials.
The last stage of the project goes to the Normandy Sud Eure Tourist Office.
Pakistan: Indeed, the promotion manager used the Izi.travel application to geolocate the stages of the journey, insert soundtracks, videos and images, then put them online for the general public.
If you had to recommend this audioguided tour to a friend, what would you say?
Christina: In this complicated context of health crisis where groupings of people are limited, this audioguide offers a nice moment of complicity between parents, children and us!
Pakistan: Although this walk has been made for young children, it is of interest for all ages; arouse curiosity, share an intergenerational activity, make people want to go out and take a walk... And the adults, I'm sure, will also learn about the city's heritage and history!