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Nice and La Poste commemorate the 75th anniversary of 'Le Petit Prince'

The 75th Anniversary of Saint-Éxupéry's iconic story 'Le Petit Prince,' is commemorated on the #IloveNice sign and a limited-edition postage stamp.

Le Petit Prince-themed #I love Nice sign in front of the Colline du Château © Ville de Nice

As fans of children's and world literature will know, Le Petit Prince is a novella written and illustrated with soft, watercolour sketches by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and it is one of the best-selling and most translated books ever published. First appearing in New York in 1943, Saint-Exupéry's story was published posthumously in France by Éditions Gallimard three years later, making 2021 the 75th anniversary of its immediate rise to worldwide fame.

Regardless of whether you've read the story, the delicate, innocent depiction of the Petit Prince is an easily recognisable motif around the world in theme parks, museums, exhibitions and shops; in theatre, animated film and television adaptations; and even in the form of various tangible collectors' items, memorabilia and children's toys. The Petit Prince in all his trusting iterations represents a childlike openness, gentleness and warm-hearted humanity.

The recent embellishment of the 'I love Nice' sign at the bottom of the Colline du Château is a local example of the story's universal appeal. On 8 April 2021, the Secretary of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, Olivier d'AGAY, signed a partnership with the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, before unveiling the new structure, adorned with Saint-Exupéry's characteristic illustrations of the good-natured protagonist and his adopted fox.

The structure's Petit Prince makeover follows the release of a new limited-edition French postal stamp on 12 April 2021, but perhaps not the kind you might imagine. The design in question didn't feature the dignified side-profile of a celebrated French scientist or innovator, nor the ostentatious architectural frontage of a Parisian landmark. Instead, stamp collectors will have been intrigued to find the sweet, hopeful image of the Petit Prince cradling a seedling while kneeling on the surface of the moon, an imaginary lunar breeze ruffling his matching yellow scarf and spiky mop of hair.

Le Petit Prince stamps released on 12th April 2021 © La Poste, Courtesy Ville de Nice

As well as embodying the values of compassion and altruism towards humans and animals, Saint-Exupéry's Petit Prince was ahead of his time in terms of looking after another essential life form: the planet. As portrayed by the young seedling on the stamp and the single pink rose on the new Nice sign, the Petit Prince concerns himself with protecting, nurturing and caring for biological life. The Prince gives us this advice: ''When you've finished tending to yourself in the morning, you need to tend lovingly to the planet.'' His guidance could not be more relevant today, and no doubt the moral and philosophical reflections of Saint-Exupéry's young but wise protagonist will remain with us for generations to come.

- Georgina Findlay

Watch the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, dedicate the #ILoveNice sign to the famous story:

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