France-Amérique: La Carte aux Trésors is a pillar of French television. What makes it so original?
Cyril Féraud: It is a giant adventure show that enables viewers to discover the diversity and beauty of French heritage throughout different challenges. Two participants go head to head and have between 20 and 35 minutes to solve puzzles that help them find out more about a French region. They travel in helicopters to go as fast as possible, but also to take in the views of landscapes from the sky. The tension never lets up from puzzle to puzzle. Participants race against the clock – but also against each other. Every stage takes both participants and viewers to a variety of locations while also teaching them something. With two hours per show, there is no time to get bored!
La Carte aux Trésors was launched in 1996. It was decommissioned in 2008 but returned in 2018. How is this new version different?
The show is faster-paced and more modern than it was ten years ago. We use all the technological means at our disposal to shoot breathtaking images. We have a professional high definition movie camera and GoPro cameras attached to the participants’ jackets so we can follow them throughout the adventure… Everything is designed to involve audiences and give them an immersive, exciting experience. Another new feature this season is that participants are no longer allowed to use their smartphones. They can only rely on the knowledge of people they meet along the way. In 2019, the challenge is to solve puzzles and find specific information in unknown places without the internet, GPS, or telephones!
Which recent sequences have impressed you the most?
In Charente-Maritime, the participants’ helicopters landed in the legendary Fort Boyard. It was a first in French television history! And in Ariège, we witnessed a feat of sporting prowess when a participant rappelled down a 260-foot drop from the top of a prehistoric cave.
Your role in the show is halfway between Stéphane Bern in terms of culture and historical anecdotes and Olivier Minne for the adventures and timed challenges. How did you find this balance?
I am used to playing this dual role thanks to other shows I host on the France Télévisions network – Slam and Personne n’y avait pensé ! I am there to host the show and make it enjoyable to watch, but also to share knowledge. The only difference with La Carte aux Trésors is that I am not in a studio in Paris. I am incredibly lucky to be able to follow the participants in a helicopter and really live the experience myself.
In August, one episode will be focused on the châteaux of the Loire Valley, and another on Montpellier. Do you restrict yourself to portraying the picture-postcard sides of France?
No, every French region deserves to be featured, not just the ones that attract the most tourists! The aim of the show is to showcase the heritage of our entire country in a fun, enjoyable way. The adventure is really a pretext for discovering new things! I did not know about the Ariège and Lot départements, and I was fascinated by the beauty of both. Through our puzzles, we try to surprise participants and the inhabitants of the regions we explore by shining a light on little-known heritage and cultural aspects. It is amazing to introduce people to different places or hear anecdotes from those who have lived there for years!
What is the perfect profile for participants?
The participating duo is systematically made up of a man and a woman, and both have to be athletic, competitive, and curious. During the selection process, we immediately identify those who have a taste for discovery and who love French heritage. I also make sure that they are polite and friendly with the people they meet and who help them along the way – even in the heat of the moment. It is actually wonderful to see the lengths the inhabitants of the regions we visit will go to help out. Recently, in the Seine-et-Marne département, the two participants managed to get four different cars driving in a line to help them solve a puzzle. It was a real procession!
Is it true that some of today’s participants grew up watching the show?
This show has transcended eras and generations. The people who used to watch it with their parents now watch it with their own children. They grew up with it, and many are now signing up to take part themselves. However, the younger candidates are not necessarily better than their elders, as without a smartphone it is a lot harder to solve the riddles!
La Carte aux Trésors will be broadcasted on TV5 MONDE USA every Sunday at 2:30 pm EST.