Our photo favourites from the "Femmes de Provence" exhibition

The last washerwomen

Six guides gave tours of the "Femmes de Provence" exhibition during Heritage Days in September 2022. Our six volunteers chose from among the 63 photos on display. They recount their favorite photos and the anecdotes they evoke. Stories by Christèle Henriot, Nadia Nanot, Nadine Bérenguier, Jean-Pierre Serra, André Abbe and François Abbe.

Christèle: fisherman's wife

Remaillage des filets à Villefranche sur mer (Alpes Maritimes) en 1995 - Madame Roux, épouse de pêcheur, sur le quai du port - Photo André Abbe

The framing, the color (which comes out so much better on paper), the action. I like everything about it.

It's the fisherman's wife assisting her husband. We're in the 80s. Many women had their own trades. But here we're assisting the husband's trade. And this woman puts her heart into it. This gives the story a collegial dimension...

Swiss chard tart

Madame Daniel, a restaurateur in Lieuche in the Alpes Maritimes, was a specialist in tarte aux blettes - Photo André Abbe

You can feel the woman's composure. Who are these people around her? The photo gives the impression that she's a well-known woman. When you know that her specialty is Swiss chard pie, you have to take your hat off to her. Here we find the pride and modesty of mountain people.

Grandma in Converse

A woman brings flowers to the Good Mother in the Vallée du Cians - Alpes Maritimes, September 1995

She's a puny little granny. She comes to the oratory, very religious. Very careful, with her apron. And the detail: the rebel with Converse shoes on her feet. I think that's exceptional! Voilà!

"She's a terrible lady," said a Belgian woman visiting the exhibition.


Shepherdess in the garrigue at Bourdiguet (Gard) in the 80s - Photo André Abbe

She's not a shepherdess, she's a goatherd. A cape that takes us back in time. We don't know her face. A woman committed to a hard, practical trade. Her presence surrounded by her goats in the forest. Her courage. She lives her passion. Is that not true?

In the arms of the Maurette

Notre Dame de la Roquette, in the commune of Le Muy (Var), not far from the boundary with Roquebrune sur Argens, was the preferred meeting place for families and young people from both villages. On this May 1st, 1975, the picnic over, the balèti was packed. The thinnest had crossed the holy hole. Photo André Abbe

A spring rushes down from the brown rock,
The girls of Roquebrune come with their big tote bags,
The gentle sound of the water welcomes them,
And gradually gives way to the lively thumping of the beaters mingling with the clatter
The stream makes so early,
A strong harmony unites them.
On the blessed bank,
Kneeling on the rock, barefoot and bare-armed,
Girls with weathered complexions, their weary faces brightened by the dawning spring sun.
Time suspended, a wash in the large iron basin placed in
the fresh grass,
Soon blued by this still cold spring, this clear morning
La Maurette holds out its arms, welcoming them, tinting the long streams of water in
this transparent space
It offers the promise of a time of palaver,
In the shade of the tall trees,
They'll spend the morning here, then head off to tend to the cooking pot,
The meal is ready,
Some take care of the laundry for others,
While the spring makes a gentle sound of trembling bells,
Laughter and sometimes miserable words spread out,
Confided as if to exorcise the days gone by.
Soon the spring will soothe the aches of these mothers, these women who
find themselves at La Maurette;
The stream resumes its course with promises to tell others very
The heart soothed and the laundry dried,
These women with the grace of a May painting
Take up their burden letting the morning slip away leaving the echo of the
Their hearts lighter, their beautiful arms still dripping with water droplets,
under the midday sun.


A few anecdotes from the daily life of the women of Provence

Gaby, a German grape-picker, helps André Abbe place the canestèu host on his shoulder. At the family bastide in Roquebrune sur Argens (Var), 1982

It was a great pleasure, and above all a great privilege, to be able to offer a group of dear friends a chance to discover André "Dédé" ABBE's photo exhibition, organized by the "Abbe Photo" Association as part of the European Heritage Days on the theme "Women of Provence - 1970/2000" ...
It's always a moving experience for me to return to this 16th-century family home, after having first recalled the millenary past of our village by strolling through its historic heart, and to comment on the more than sixty photos hanging on these walls steeped in history...
Once again this year, many of them took me back to periods of my life, full of wonderful memories, as the 70s were "those of my 20s", the 80s "those of my children" and the 90s "those of the First Magistrate" of this Commune where I was "born", where I grew up and where I've always lived ...
It's always fascinating for me to share a few anecdotes about these scenes from the daily lives of the women of Provence, but also about some of the high points in the life of the villages in our Commune, our Département and even our Region, as well as about ancestral activities and/or traditions that we hold dear ...
All the more so as the group I guided this year included women who had shared some of these slices of life, as well as one of my friends, "troupelen", "felibre" and still a player in Tropezian traditions, who was far more competent than I to comment on scenes of bravado and/or Provençal festivities ...
So it's not easy to isolate some of the photos or scenes from daily life and meet the demands of this exercise in restitution ...
So I'll start with some of the highlights that I've commented on, along with more personal anecdotes ...


Harvesting in the family vineyard in the Planet district in the 1980s. The vines were later uprooted in 1988 - Photo André Abbe

The first is, of course, harvest time, so much a part of my youth, having shared it with various teams on the Argens plain or on the Roquebrun hillsides, pruning shears in hand or "canestéou" on the shoulder, even at the wheel of a tractor, or in the family warehouse loading and unloading crates for the "wine grape" seasons...


Mid-Lent float in 1978 in the main street of Roquebrune sur Argens (Var) - Photo André Abbe

The second is the emblematic events that were our "Corsos Fleuris" during "Mi-Carême", but also the "Foire Artisanale" which became the "Journées Artisanales", then the "Journées des Métiers d'Art", as well as the "Fête du 1er Mai" in La Roquette, and the "fêtes votives" in our villages, where boules competitions, particularly in the "jeu provençal" (editor's note: "à la longue"), were an integral part of the festivities...

Miquèla Bramerie

Miquela and the Chapacans at La Sainte Baume - Var - Photo André Abbe

Finally, I'd like to conclude with a reference to one of the great ladies of Provençal and Occitan song...
Indeed, through these photos taken with her group "Les Chapacans" during a concert at the Sainte-Baume, I rediscovered the woman who, along with other "figures" from the Var and/or Occitan regions, had shared with us, through their compositions, these battles for the identity of our Provence, for the preservation of our language, for the defense of Occitania and our traditions, so dear to our hearts in our youth, but also still today...
This was Miquelà BRAMERIE, who also honoured the exhibition with his presence the following day ...
A big bravo to the whole team for the work accomplished ...
A big thank you to François and "Dédé" for this tasting of "Madeleines de Proust", always so tasty and shared with loved ones ...
See you next year for sure ...

Jean-Pierre SERRA

The Liberation or its reconstruction?

Liberation Day re-enactment on August 15th - Le Muy (Var)
The Liberation re-enactment - Le Muy (Var) - Photo André Abbe

This photo by André Abbe is timeless. It is one of the rare digital photos in the "Femme de Provence" exhibition. The Liberation re-enactment in the village of Le Muy (Var) inspires. So inspiring, in fact, that an incredible number of visitors thought they recognized a relative, or even an ancestor.

The funniest anecdote: the colors are reminiscent of an old photo. But the photo dates from the year 2000. However, someone recognized a distant relative. The person thought the photo dated from August 15, 1044. But the photographer was born on August 17... 1944 (the day Roquebrune-sur-Argens was liberated!). The myth lives on!

François Abbe

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