Communes is a photographic essay by Raymond Depardon exploring the villages of France’s Mediterranean inland region. Its 80 black-and-white photographs were taken by Depardon in the summer of 2020, after France’s first lockdown, and cover the departments of Aveyron, Lozère, Gard and Hérault. These villages are timeless havens of peace, where tranquility and cool prevail. Witnesses to history, they were threatened by the ‘Nant concession’, a shale gas extraction project, but the inhabitants protested and the project was abandoned in 2015. The villages, with their cobbled streets, old houses with jagged facades and rustic construction, are once again thriving.
The photographs are accompanied by a text by Salomé Berlioux, president of the association Chemins d’Avenirs, an association that accompanies and promotes thousands of young people from isolated areas. Berlioux is also the author of Les Invisibles de la République. Comment sauver la jeunesse de la France périphérique?
(Robert Laffont, 2019) and Nos campagnes suspendes. La France périphérique face à la crise (Editions de l’Observatoire, 2020).