A tête-à-tête with Jamaica’s new honorary French consul in Negril, Sophie Grizzle Roumel
Sophie Grizzle Roumel has been installed as the French government’s representative in Negril, Jamaica, second only to Ambassador Olivier Guyonvarch.
With her deep ties to the area stemming from childhood, Roumel, along with her father Daniel Grizzle, is better known as a co-owner of the award-winning Charela Inn Hotel. She is also recognised as a keen environmental champion for the area. Gleaner Lifestyle sat down with Roumel for a quick chat to get the details on her new appointment and all things France.
Gleaner Lifestyle (GL) : What does the title of Honorary French Consul in Negril really mean?
Sophie Roumel (SR) : The appointment of honorary French consul to Negril comes after many years of assisting the embassy in Kingston as a chef d’ilot for various parishes. I assist French citizens and visitors with information and advice from natural disasters to lost passports. I work closely with our ambassador in Kingston and my superior ,the consul of France in Panama.
The French people have a great love for Jamaica, its music, and culture, so we welcome many visitors and the Negril area has quite a few French residents who fell in love with Negril from as early as the ‘70s and ‘80s, including my mother and we now have third-generation young ones.
GL: What is your relationship with France?
SR: My mother, the late Sylvie Grizzle, was French and I have a large family in France whom I am very close with. While growing up, my mother made sure I spent quality time with them, and my grandmother lived in Paris and exposed me to the arts, language, fine cuisine, French culture, and a love for nature. I have family stretching from Toulouse to Dax in the south, through Bordeaux up to Paris.
I still visit France as often as I can, but my family’s greatest delight is to visit us here in Negril.
GL: So as a francophile, where would you suggest going to eat authentic French cuisine?
SR: Well, if you’re up for a gourmet adventure, our Charela Inn in-house restaurant, Le Vendome, is serenely nestled by the seashore where you can quietly dine al fresco to the calming sounds of Negril’s seven-mile beach’s bluest waves.
You can try escargots, as many young people are becoming very knowledgeable about fine food and have come to try them, which some say it tastes a bit like conch. Or you can taste our foie gras that is homemade by my cousin in the Landes, a renowned area in France for making it. Or sip on a 1979 Bas Armagnac from the same region.
Our freshly baked croissants are served every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday morning for breakfast and are very popular. Our French-Jamaican fusion dishes allow us to have fun with French flair and local ingredients, especially from our own farm; creating delicacies from soufflés to crepes.
GL: What is it like living in France?
SR: Mais oui bien sûr! Whether you’re living in culturally vibrant Paris with its museums, theatres, restaurants, strolling along the Seine, or taking a bateau mouche, it’s the city of love that you cannot resist falling in love with and visiting over and over again.
I spent many childhood holidays on the beach of Biarritz, which reminds me of Negril with the vibrant cafes, restaurants, and the chic crowd strolling along the boardwalk and narrow streets.
I am truly blessed to have family living in many beautiful corners of France, which I love exploring and savouring with them.
GL: Any last words or recommendations?
SR: I just want to say how honoured I am to be appointed as honorary consul and I will continue to strengthen the ties between Jamaica and France from my position here in Negril. Paris is preparing for the Olympic summer games in 2024, which will be very exciting. Vive la France!