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French wine under threat

The South of France has always been hot in summer. But scientists say that hot is getting hotter, and the effects of a changing climate are starting to be seen in France’s vineyards. What does this mean for the future of French wine? Stern magazine sent me on assignment to various locations in Provence as photographer, with their writer, to find out. While taking portraits and reportage photos for the feature, I learned just how long vines can live, how new grapes might start slipping into famous French cuvées and just how much some people will pay for a bottle of vintage wine. Continue reading…

Part of double-page magazine spread showing grapevines on a vineyard and a panting dog, title text overlaying the photograph

provence: far right country

France is holding its breath. The first round of the presidential election is a few short days away, and it is arguably the most unpredictable political event for some time. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s unprecedented popularity is in the press spotlight, both in France and abroad. A Swiss Sunday newspaper recently asked me as photographer to travel to western Provence and join their reporter in the traditional South of France heartland of the Front National. Our mission? To find, interview and take editorial portraits of FN voters. It wasn’t an easy assignment. Continue reading…

The face of Marine LePen on a tatty campaign poster

pocket of resistance in the french alps

The border to Italy marks the eastern end of the French Riviera – and the doorway to a new life in Europe for immigrants coming the other way. Increasing police checks on roads, train lines and in towns such as Menton, Nice and Cannes to catch new arrivals without permits mean that some now walk inland, up into the French Alps, to avoid detection. Yet they are seriously unprepared for the conditions. As photographer, I was recently sent on an editorial assignment to a valley close to the France-Italy border where locals have been standing up to the authorities to give hungry, cold and exhausted refugees food and shelter in their homes. Continue reading…

Photograph of a group of African men sitting around a fire playing cards outdoors in an olive grove

Behind the Veil in Nice

Promenading under the sun, showing off bronzed limbs and checking out fellow seafront strollers is a popular French Riviera pastime, from Cannes to Monaco. However, strolling is not a pleasant experience for everyone in the South of France. My recent photographer assignment to make an editorial portrait of a niqab-wearing Nice resident – and the Algerian benefactor who pays her fines for doing so – was an eye-opener. Nice looks rather different through a veil. Continue reading…

Close-up photograph of woman in a burqa talking

Reims: the curious tale of a cathedral

My life as a photographer in the South of France is a varied one. I photograph portraits and reportages, and my subjects range from businessmen to artisans, fine food to villas. But flying up to the north of France to spend two days photographing a cathedral last autumn was a first. Notre Dame de Reims, 90 miles east of Paris, is a fascinating subject, rich with scars and stories. During my trip away from the French Riviera, I managed to borrow a bike from a total stranger, disobey a clergyman and have an existential discussion with a man armed with a machine gun: all in order to better photograph the cathedral. Continue reading…

Photograph of Reims Cathedral by day

G20: Nice holds its breath

The French Riviera is all about the G20 this week. The actual event is in Cannes, but yesterday Nice held its breath. Protestors who had made their way to the South of France from all over the world came to town for the anti-G20 march, with photographers and journalists hot on their heels.

However, as it turned out, the worst weapon that riot police faced was a feather duster. Continue reading…

Protester marches with a mask at G20 summit protest march