8th september 2016
just before our road trip this time last year i discovered a big photojournalism festival held in perpignan every year. as our outward journey was across northern france it wasn’t possible to include a visit en route. but this year….!
as per, i had researched online and worked out in which of the locations most of the many photographers would be exhibited plus other possible places to visit. first the problem of parking. due to the necessary acquisition of a roof box we can’t use underground carparks which is a bit of a nuisance but we were lucky to spot an empty parking spot and then to discover it was in an area where all day parking was not only permissable but very cheap…result!
we were alongside a park, bir-hakeim, and walking through it we came out in front of the palais des congres and the promenade des platanes. the plane trees formed a beautiful avenue with a lovely fountain in its middle. there was also the biggest war memorial i have yet seen in a city centre!
using the ‘you are here’ street plan we easily found the couvent des minimes but were a bit nonplussed about the many police cars and heavily armed officers barring the road up to it. the reality of the state of emergency showing itself. at the entrance we were subjected, very politely, to the bag searches and hand scanners. lou set off the buzzer, we assumed it was his phone.
the couvent is a long, two storey building and is pretty scruffy inside, it has to be said. the dimensions of the original rooms and chapel are there, making themselves felt above and around the display spaces.
we moved along the very well placed photographs but progress was v.e.r.y slow as each one had a description within its frame both in french and english. after a while we stopped for a needed coffee in the central plaza and agreed to see one more corridor and then go and search for lunch.
we didn’t walk far as there was a good and reasonable menu advertised at the bottom of the street. it was the best lunch i have had in a long while and all eaten on a terrace fanned by a welcome breeze.
back through the barriers and buzzers for the second floor of the couvent. at times the subject matter moved me to tears. photo journalists by nature are trying to show jo public the injustices in the world and some of these were new to me. for example, the situation regarding water shortages on the west bank. the apparent inequalities within and between states in that part of the world regarding something so precious appalled me. i was also overwhelmed by the extent of misplaced persons highlighted by some photographers. i hadn’t realised the numbers of foreign nationals living in libya who became homeless when that country fell apart after the fall of gaddafi.
so it was a physically and emotionally tiring day. however that didn’t stop us visiting the eglise des dominicans to see the photographs there.
i was particualrly taken by one of three african rangers on horseback demonstrating their riding skills employed in their hunting of ivory poachers. by now we were shattered and needing cold drinks.
but first a visit to the nearby exhibition bookshop where we broused and i found a book of lucien clergues photos, the photographer who started the wonderful rencontres at arles which we had visited in 2014.
too hot and tired to explore perpignan any further it was cold oranginas at a pavement cafe then back to the car and home via the motorway. at capestang a light supper of whatever was to hand in the ice box and early to bed as it was dark by half past eight. miraculously, no tractors rattling down the road or harvesting machines grinding in the vineyards across the canal so a decent night’s sleep……