The crazy story of the restaurant that hosted Matt Damon and Ridley Scott in Dordogne

In Sarlat, in Périgord, the restaurant The Culverin serves regional specialties every day from the local terroir of this little corner of the South-West. You can taste foie gras, duck confit, Sarlat potatoes, pork trotters in jelly, and sometimes even a few dishes with Asian influences, dear to the chef of the place, Marion Martel. Here, customers are traditionally locals, sometimes tourists, or fans of the comfort food of this regional culinary institution.

This routine, although oiled and honed for several years, was somewhat upset when, a few kilometers away and several long months ago, the filming of the film took place. The Last Duel. A film with an exceptional budget and cast, bringing together Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck, under the direction of Ridley Scott. Because, during the filming, the restaurant was transformed, on several occasions, into a filming canteen.

Before and during the filming of the film, La Couleuvrine, run by the chef Marion Martel and her sister Stéphanie, was regularly approached by the production of the film in order to offer supplies at a lower price to some of the film’s technical teams. For several weeks, the two sisters had therefore become accustomed to having the management on the phone in order to organize and offer dish-dessert formulas at 13 euros for some of the technicians. A new, one-off operation that suited everyone.

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One weekday evening, in full service, Stéphanie picks up the restaurant’s phone. It is again the director of the film who calls, but, this time, to reserve a table for ten people. “That evening, we were a bit limited in staff, says Stéphanie Martel. We only had two on-call servers ”. Wishing to continue to help the production of the film, she decides, with the agreement of her sister in the kitchen, to open an additional room in the restaurant. “You must know who’s coming to eat!”, lets go of the manager, before hanging up. With these words spoken by the manager, Stéphanie imagines that it is probably a question of a handful of additional technicians.

It is not, in reality, since it was Matt Damon and Ridley Scott, accompanied by, it seems, Jodie Comer in person. It was when about twenty cars suddenly arrived in front of the restaurant, escorting those of the three stars, that she understood that it was not a joke. At nightfall, the warnings and flashers seemed to illuminate the village square “Like a Christmas tree”, she recalls.

Matt Damon, first come

The first to arrive at the scene is none other than Matt Damon, himself. Stéphanie admits having had a little trouble recognizing him. It must be said that the cap-jogging look is quite far from the image she had of the star of Jason Bourne. A little confused, she asks her server what she is supposed to do. The latter answers him: “As usual, Steph ‘, you serve the aperitif!”. Arrived early, he remained twenty minutes in the downstairs room to wait for the rest of his table and even refused to start the aperitif.

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Once everyone at the table, Stéphanie comes up against a major problem: the very pronounced American and English accents of her prestigious clients. She who usually has no problem with English was a little taken aback by the magnitude of the situation and the detail of their order. Quickly, a reassuring Ridley Scott slips over his shoulder: “It’s okay, send whatever you want, we don’t care, we’re happy”.

So much the better since, that evening, she confides that the one she thinks to be Jodie Comer was served a cocktail that was absolutely not the one she had ordered. That said, it didn’t seem to really sadden him. The English are definitely unfailingly polite or, perhaps, they just like to raise their elbow. On the wine side, Pommerol arrives at the table, but in rather reasonable quantities. The choice of drinks fell to Ridley Scott, explains Stéphanie Martel.

Two bottles for ten, a choice probably far from the alcohol standards of Périgord. At the table, Ridley Scott wanted truffles, he insisted. “four or five times” to have some. He was therefore served grated truffle on his starter – a mushroom soup -, and on his main course – a fish accompanied by risotto. Matt Damon, he was satisfied with a burger, a very American dish. A choice certainly agreed but solid and devilishly effective, just like the actor.

“Do you think he’s finished soon?”

In the middle of the meal, a distinguished guest, the mayor of the village, could not resist the temptation to come and greet the film crew, and in particular Ridley Scott with whom he had already met, a few years ago, for the shooting of Duelists, shot in Dordogne and in the same town of Sarlat. The production, for its part, a bit under tension, never stopped questioning Stéphanie to know if the cast would soon be able to leave the premises:

“- Do you think he’s finished soon?
– But it’s okay, let him eat, he’s only just entering! ”

At the time, Stéphanie did not want to ask for photos with the celebrities she was hosting. It is not in her habits, she has never done it in the past, even when she received French stars at her table. However, one of her waiters insisted all evening with her that she jump at the chance. Stéphanie then lets herself be seduced by the idea, telling herself that her children might like it. Unlike the other restaurants in town that hosted the film crew, La Couleuvrine did not have to sign a confidentiality agreement. It was even Matt Damon who insisted that evening to take pictures with her and her waiters.

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Initially, Stéphanie had no intention of posting the photo online. She says herself very far from social networks. The next day, on the phone with the manager, she specifies that she has not broadcast anything. He reassures her: “But you can go, they did it on purpose, they want to let people know that they are in Sarlat”. Stéphanie sees this as a probable agreement with her town, which would explain why the production has signed confidentiality agreements everywhere, except at home and at the local pizzeria, La Romane. Perhaps a way of thanking the city for welcoming them.

Once freed from this weight, she then takes the opportunity to distribute the photo, “To make La Couleuvrine regulars laugh”. But she wasn’t expecting the reactions the publication of this photo would trigger. Because, after all, for her, they had just come to dinner.

After this strange evening, a few curious people made the trip to the restaurant, like a pilgrimage. Stéphanie has fun and remembers: “To tell you how crazy people are, I even had one who insisted on taking a photo with me on the pretext that I was photographed alongside Matt Damon. Yet I am nobody!, she smiles. I replied, jokingly: ‘I would like to take a picture with you but you will not sell it for a lot.’ ” And that is not the most absurd meeting that Stéphanie has been able to do thanks to – or because of – this photo.

Pilgrimage site

A few days after the publication of the photo, during a rather intense service, she receives a call from a person pretending to be someone from the production. Stéphanie is not fooled, especially as the voice seemed to deliberately imitate a rather coarse American accent. She then imagines “Kids who would make a joke”. Busy elsewhere, she asks her interlocutor to rephrase her request one last time, intelligibly, before hanging up on him.

Wet kids! Finally… The kids, not really, since it was actually Cyril Hanouna, the TV host, who was trying his hand at a joke, posing as Matt Damon’s agent, while recording his show Do not touch My TV !.

Matt Damon’s tourist tribulations in France do not end there. One Saturday evening, in search of a very American activity and while the shooting continued in Burgundy, he set his sights on the bowling alley in Mâcon. Accompanied by his friend – and rival in the film – Adam Driver, the two acolytes indulged in a game of bowling. No privatization that evening, but a reserved track, in the middle of the premises. So it was under the dumbfounded eyes of the locals that they set about making their best strikes.

That evening, the arrival of Matt Damon also had an effect, to say the least, surprising. The ban on wearing a headgear on the premises of the establishment was lifted when he spent his evening with his cap screwed on his head. Not easy to ask Jason Bourne to take off his hat.

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The crazy story of the restaurant that hosted Matt Damon and Ridley Scott in Dordogne