Lotta Toivanen is a Helsinki based translator of French novels. She worked at Hôtel Chevillon in 2017.
In the beautiful old house, you could almost hear ghost footsteps echoing.
During my stay at Hôtel Chevillon in the summer of 2017, I worked on a selection of short stories by the contemporary French author Anna Gavalda. The selection Fendre l’armure consisted of seven stories, and I finished the first draft of my translation into Finnish while in Grez-sur-Loing.
Grez was a charming little village, quiet and peaceful, enabling me to fully concentrate on my translation project. Yet, during the pauses, there was always someone downstairs in the common kitchen to chat with.
In the beautiful old house, you could almost hear the footsteps of residents long past echoing down the halls: Strindberg, Stevenson and company passing by… Yes, the surroundings were most inspiring for writing; I also did quite a bit of meditative cycling along the numerous trails at the nearby Fontainebleau Forest as well.
In the city of Fontainebleau, some ten kilometres away, I got the chance to listen to and exchange with the local people. Time flew – and what a lovely time it was – but I got my project done on time. My Finnish translation of Gavalda’s collection was published in the following spring under the title Lohikäärmetatuointi ja muita pintanaarmuja.