France is a country that always makes me ask more questions than I have answers. For example why according to Google, is the main form of transportation by train, yet there are hardly any local stations near the villages? Is train travel really the main way of transport in France? or is it cars for the people outside the cities?

My trip began by  driving 11 hours from Leeds to a small village in France called L’Absie. The best part of driving to a different country is that you encounter none of the problems associated with airports and the irritating x-ray machines that have claimed rolls of film before.

After driving 11 hours to L’Absie and arriving at 5am (local time) we decided not to sleep and just get out and walk about the town. A small walk away from where I was staying was a lake that offered beautiful scenery.

In the town of L’Absie there are a lot of friendly locals, whether that be the English ex pats or the French. Everyone I met in the town was friendly, including the animals.

One of the locals dogs named Patch

The town of L’Absie is very diverse with properties ranging from very well kept private residential homes to very run down buildings. At some points it felt like stepping into a different town.  The old French architecture was striking and I loved the look of some of the old abandoned buildings such as the old library.

The old library

Many days we would visit local events and charitable car boot sales which where full of locals and to my surprise, many English people who were holidaying.

Locals competing against the English at peeling apples

Every country has a stereotypical image. For France one has to be that they all drive Peugeot’s or Citroen’s, however this Frenchman drives a Cadillac that really stands out.

One day we left the small town of L’Absie to explore the bigger areas such as Île de Ré and La Rochelle. The differences between the small town of L’Absie to La Rochelle and Île de Ré was like comparing apples to oranges.

The bridge joining Île de Ré and La Rochelle

The people in the big city dressed differently and acted differently, keeping themselves to themselves, whilst the people of L’Absie were always welcoming.

Walking to the shop

There is something about shooting black and white on a beach that has an appeal to me.  The golden sands turn into a grayish blacks giving much more definition to the picture, making it more about the subject rather than the colours.

Walk way to the beach
A man sunbathing with a paddle board
The Île de Ré waves

After walking along the beach we discovered an old bunker from the war, places like this show the history of Île de Ré. It is hard to imagine that this small island has ever been a hostile environment.  The old bunker has been stripped of its war roots and has been turned into a place of mass graffiti.

The town of Île de Ré greeted me with a harbor full of life.

The cobble streets felt friendly and peaceful, a lot different to its neighbor city of La Rochelle.

La Rochelle is vibrant town full of designer shops, busy coffee shops and students.

After the time in La Rochelle we decided to head to the location the locals call ‘the rocks’.

The France adventure ends here I would like to thank the Wollastan family for giving me the opportunity to come.

All images captured by a Leica M5 with a 50mm Jupiter 8 on HP5 developed in Rodinal.

A special thank you to Steve ( for the developing and scanning.

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