Review: The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Audrey Fleurot, Julie De Bona, and Camille Lou in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) is a French language melodrama that begins with a real historical event. The event was an 1897 fire in Paris that burned down a building housing a charity bazaar. Over 100 women died in the fire. It’s streaming on Netflix.

Three fictional women who experienced the fire are the basis for the 8 episodes in season 1 of The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité). I’ll give you a description of the three women, which will introduce their particular part of the story.

Audrey Fleurot in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Adrienne (Audrey Fleurot) wasn’t actually in the building when it burned, although she was supposed to be. She was in a carriage smooching with Hugues (François-David Cardonnel). Hugues was not her husband. He was a journalist who would later help uncover the truth about how the fire started.

Adrienne’s husband Marc-Antoine (Gilbert Melki) was abusive and controlling. He was rich, powerful, and running for high office. When he learned Adrienne wanted a divorce, he had their daughter Camille (Rose de Kervenoaël) taken away as a means to control Adrienne. When Adrienne and Hugues weren’t kissing, they were talking about how Adrienne could get her daughter and escape her husband’s clutches.

Julie De Bona and Lucian Perez in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Rose (Julie de Bona), a maid, was in the building. Ironically, she was watching little Thomas (Adrien Guionnet). Thomas turned out to be an important part of her future, but the night of the fire she was just minding him for his mother. Rose was married to the coachman Jean (Aurélien Wiik). They had just purchased tickets to America and a new life.

Camille Lou and Victor Meutelet in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Alice (Camille Lou) was there with her maid Rose. She was kind to everyone but took special notice of a lower class man in the crowd named Victor (Victor Meutelet). They had one of those long look moments with each other. When the building was collapsing all around them, Victor went back inside to save Alice.

Alice’s rich intended future husband Julien (Théo Fernandez) was in the fire, too. Like other men, he pushed aside women to save himself. Alice’s parents really needed her to marry the rich guy, but she switched her allegiance to Victor after the fire. Adrienne sister was Alice’s mother.

Everything I just described happened in the first episode. The first episode was brilliantly done. The fire scenes were fantastic and terrifying. The remainder of the season is about the 3 women and their lives following the fire.

Josiane Balasko, Gilles Cohen, Antoine Duléry, Stéphane Guillon, Gilbert Melki, Florence Pernel, Aurélien Wiik, Audrey Fleurot, François-David Cardonnel, Julie De Bona, Théo Fernandez, Victor Meutelet, and Camille Lou in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)
The cast of characters

It took a big cast to tell the story. There were corrupt politicians, investigators, cops, journalists, newsboys, anarchists, devious mothers-in-law, near bankrupt parents, philandering fake husbands, and pretend children. The costumes and opulent sets of the rich people in the story were fabulous.

False identities, faked deaths, and loving below your class were just a few of the plot lines that our three heroines became involved in as the story spun its magic. The guillotine situated in the middle of the frame in every episode was set to whisk off the head of one of those characters. Some characters plotted to put him on the chopping block, while others worked to prove his innocence.

Exciting things like stabbings, shootings, bonking on the head with metal pipes, and men knocking women about figured into resolving some of the problems. The climactic scenes in the final episode had the three women’s stories in a good place. It felt like the series could end after those 8 episodes and be complete. But The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) was specifically labeled Season 1, so there may be plans to carry on with the women’s lives with new drama in the future. They were strong, willful, interesting women.

The series was created by Catherine Ramberg.

Poster for The Bonfire of Destiny

The series is in French, but this trailer is dubbed in English.

What did you think of this exciting drama? Would you like to see a second season?

35 thoughts on “Review: The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)”

  1. Maybe watching it in France where you know the language makes a difference. Maybe the actors are great actors but……. the people who are doing the voice overs in English are terrible. I can’t watch past the first episode because the “acting” is so bad.

    1. If you can deal with the subtitles, it’s much better to have the audio in French with subtitles. There should be a way for you to tell Netflix that’s how you want it. That way you hear the real actors acting instead of bad dubbing.

      1. Margaret J Jones

        I watched it on Netflix with the subtitles and loved it. It took about 5 minutes to get used to reading the dialogue, but so worth it. I would love to see these womens’ stories developed into a second season.

      2. Bonjour Alice,
        Tout à fait d’accord avec vous.
        L’adaption originale est bien meilleur que l’audio version américaine.
        Je me demande souvent ou est ce que ils trouvent leurs adaptions, qui n’est guere d’aplomb?

        I suggest like

    2. Kathryn Watterson

      You must watch this in the original language (French) and read subtitles for the real effect and to appreciate the superb acting and storyline! I found Bomfire of Destiny to be riveting!!! I highly recommend!

  2. I absolutely LOVED this series! I cannot watch foreign films/series with it dubbed because it takes away from the authenticity. I’d recommend watching it without being dubbed and with English subtitles and you’ll sure enjoy it. Overall, I loved the story and how the lives of the 3 women were intertwined. It was very emotional and the acting was very convincing.

  3. Whitney Martinez

    I watched it in French with the subtitles and loved it! Just finished last episode today and already can’t wait for another season to see how the story continues for the three man characters.

  4. I loved the series. I watched on Netflix. It was in English (USA) although you can tell the actors were speaking French. Great acting, great story lines. Loved the happy ending!!! I even looked up the actual event of the fire of 1897. Sad for those that died. Loved the series and would highly recommended watching.

  5. Donna Huntersmith

    Excellent viewing on all levels. Story and characters were amazingly portrayed. Can’t wait for Season 2.

  6. véronique mentré

    Hi It would be nice to have the right names : the actor for young Thomas is Adrien Guionnet. You put the name of the dubber…

    1. I will take your word for it and change it, however IMDB lists Thomas twice, once with the actor Adrien Guionnet and once with the actor Lucian Perez. I think I picked the one with the photo and didn’t notice the other name. Odd that the name of a dubber would make it into the cast list on IMDB.

      1. véronique guionnet

        As I’m Adrien’s mother, I think I know who played the part, lol. Thanks You can also check just by making a search. Adrien’s picture is easy to find 😉

  7. véronique guionnet

    And it is the same for camille for example where on IMDB, you have both the names of the little girl who played and the dubber. Don’t ask me why…

    1. Did I get the right girl for Camille? I usually rely on IMDB for everything about cast members. It is really unusual for people doing voices to be listed there. You’d have dubbers from so many different languages for a popular series like this one! I can only think that whoever did the listing for the series was new at the job. Many different people contribute to IMDB.

      I’m sure you’re proud of the great job Adrien did in the film. Thank you for setting me straight.

  8. Found the american dubbling languishing, fllwg Virginia de Bolt suggestion remidied the question as I switched to original french audio and turned off translation.
    Now I was able to delight in this very captivating tale based on real event of 120 mostly women, some very well off who perished in this trajedy very nicely depicted by the talented cast, where I recognised the actor ‘prosecutor’ le Blanc who had same authoritative. approach in the french DGSE intelligence drama ‘le bureau des lègendes…
    Now that all main characters have been introduced through an amalgam of lifes trials and tribulations faced with ‘courage against all odds in the face of adversity, fear provoking extreme reactions, violence, betrayal at high level, corruption and finally redemption… Looking forward to the follow on saga…

    1. When I was a kid, dubbing was so bad we used to watch dubbed movies (especially Japanese ones) for the comedy. The actors would move their mouths at length, gesture, emote, and then some bored American voice would say 6 words. We thought it was hilarious. Of course, translators and dubbers have improved since then, but I still haven’t learned to love dubbing.

  9. I think I experienced every emotion possible while watching this extraordinary series. Beautifully written, gorgeous cinematography, wonderful characters.. all of it truly a work of art.

  10. @David Cruz
    The song played on piano in episode 8 is from Beethoven Symphony No.7 in A major op.92 – II, Allegretto

  11. A heroine (Adrienne) should never be a complete idiot. Let’s make sure everyone sees my flame red hair, pawn my jewelry without disguise and high society look while I’m fleeing for my life and trying to take my daughter with me.
    She should have died her hair. became a street urchant and darkened her pale skin with dirt. It makes it less believabke she really wants to hide.

  12. Great first episode, I was horrified. But later it all descended quickly. Can’t fathom how dumb the two main characters have to be – Adrienne the dumbest of all, and Alice can’t recognize her maid that took care of her her whole life. Poorly written script, it’s a shame because visually it was eye candy.

  13. David John Keohane

    Following on from Le bazar de la charité
    Audrey Fleurot, Julie de Bona & Camille Lou who all appeared in the Bazar de la charitém

    Audrey Fleurot, Julie de Bona & Camille Lou who all appeared in the Bazar de la charité manifests her presence in ‘women at war’.

    Netflix mini series depicting France at war 1914.

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