La France, by Raymond Depardon

Sometimes, when you get your hands on a book that has long been on your list, you might be up for a disappointment. Maybe because it doesn’t meet your expectations, maybe because real life does not always live up to promises made in the digital world, where you read or heard about it. Not so with Raymond Depardon’s La France.

I wanted to have it ever since I read the introduction in the German magazine Photonews in 2011. Yes, I really like France, still, despite recent news around their municipal elections and the continuing growth of the far right. I grew up not far from its border, spent time there, even lived there for almost a year.

But it was the way the reviewer described Depardon’s look on his country that made the book so intriguing. Unobtrusive, rational, almost quiet. Neutral, if we don’t confuse this with objective. No need to show off what a great photographer he is, but inviting: „I traveled my country and look what I found.“

Protected by a simple blue dust jacket this soft cover takes you on a tour de France, around the hexagon in 300 moments – like one of those touristic bus rides but without commentary, leaving all the highlights aside. Here is La France they way I see it, now make up your own mind.

This book is an example why I love photobooks: there’s more to them than that one perfect shot, there’s a story even if it may not be in the classical sense and I can take them home, look and even feel them, discover them time and again. Books can be an inspiration if you allow them to be, Raymond Depardon’s La France is just that.

Raymond Depardon: La France, Edition Seuil, 2011, ISBN Seuil 978-2-02-114377-5
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