Archives: rural life

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Lavender Production in Provence

Lavender is often seen as the quintessential symbol of Provence. Every summer, visitors flock to the South of France to see lavender fields, generating a thriving tourist trade around them. However there are still hidden areas of Provence where lavender growers are left entirely in peace. Last summer, I was chosen as photographer to join Stern magazine’s writer making a travel reportage about off-the-beaten-track lavender growing in France. The assignment involved excessive heat, mud, espionage, getting lost, getting high and pushing a van. Life as an assignment photographer is rarely dull. Continue reading…

Photograph of a 'plaited lavender bottle' being made by hand

Transhumance: A Story of a Journey

Summer is well under way in the South of France. On the French Riviera, the cool waters of the Mediterranean provide respite from the heat. But, far from the bustle of the Côte d’Azur, sheep farmers have other ways to keep their flocks cool. A few weeks ago, they travelled from farms across Provence to the cool climes and green grass of summer grazing grounds up in the French Alps: an event known as the transhumance. As photographer, I joined a transhumance on foot, in the hills above Nice. This extraordinary ritual journey has changed very little over the last 2000 years and, lulled by the sound of bleating and bells, I felt as though I were stepping back in time. Continue reading…

Photograph of guard dog watching over a flock of sheep

the ‘back country’: a world away from nice

The Côte d’Azur draws thousands of tourists every year to its famous seaside resort towns of Nice, St Tropez or Cannes. However, just a short drive inland, a much emptier South of France awaits. Last summer, the mayor of Gilette, a small hilltop village 30 km from Nice, commissioned me as photographer to make a reportage of the area. It was a quiet, peaceful assignment, despite some waves of vertigo and a face full of mud. Continue reading…

Panoramic photograph of the village of Gilette

french riviera bees relocated for survival

Driving around with a car full of bees isn’t my idea of fun, especially navigating hairpin bends in the snowy mountains high above the French Riviera. But one crisp morning this February, beekeeper Amanda Dowd did exactly this (with me, the photographer, following at a safe distance behind) – for a very good reason.
In the bee world, a modern day Reign of Terror is occurring, led by new arrivals to the Cote d’Azur: Asian hornets. Continue reading…

Photograph of 2 people carrying a beehive out of a car boot

saffron harvest

What flower may be grown and harvested to obtain a product worth more than gold? The saffron crocus, long forgotten in the agricultural traditions of the South of France, is today making a quiet comeback. I popped a macro lens into my photographer’s bag and drove up towards the mountains north of Nice to make a reportage about one organic farmer’s delicate harvest of ‘red gold’. Continue reading…

Close-up photograph of hands separating the stigma from the rest of a pruple saffron crocus

On the trail of wolves in the French Alps

I’m aware that jellyfish can be a hazard on the beaches of the French Riviera, and have even heard of shark sightings between Nice and Cannes. Until recently though, I had no idea that wolves are becoming a big problem in the South of France. Intrepid photographer that I am, I hiked far up into the Alps to meet Bernard, a shepherd who spends his summers deep in the Mercantour National Park and lost over 100 of his sheep to wolves last year alone. Continue reading…

Sheep herder walks with his dog through a valley in the French Alps
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