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FAMILIAR
PLACES
HYÈRES | GIENS | PORQUEROLLES
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I planned to visit Porquerolles in the Autumn
2020. Unfortunately, like many of us, recent
events have shattered my travel plans.

There will be no cavorting in the shallow waters
of the Notre Dame beach, nor will I watch the
evening on the place d'Armes sitting from the
small concrete wall that faces the church Sainte-
Anne.

But that's okay because I've spent the last months
with Porquerolles. As I was finishing the editing
of a film I shot between Giens and Porquerolles
in 2018, I felt the need to stay on the island one
way or another.

And so came in mind the idea of the Familiar
Places series. I gathered a collection of photos
and notes in those past confined months, and
there I was, transported back to Porquerolles. I
felt the wind on my face from the Pointe du
Ribaud, I heard the song of the cicadas in the
pinède, and I tasted the citrus notes in the white
wine of the Domaine de l'Ile. 

A feeling of shame crossed my body when I
remembered that, even so briefly, I once took this
magnificent place for granted. And today,
8074km away, swarmed with twenty years of
memories, I can only be thankful to consider
Porquerolles a familiar place.
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I remember the elongated pink birds
feeding in the shallow brine and the
shark fin guarding the river that ran
through a small town with yellow
painted houses and orange roofs.
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I remember the long stretched road
bordered with tall green pine trees
beside the brown-coloured water from
the sea-salted swamps. 
 
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I remember the restaurant nested on
a sharp bluff with a splendid view on
the Mediterranean Sea made of a vast
blue canvas speckled with triangular
white sails. It ran from the bottom of
the cliffs and spread across the
horizon where lushly green domes
stood, shrouded by a thin white mist. 

I remember the ferry ride aboard the
blue hull boat we boarded from a
port named after a melted fort. 
 
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And finally, I remember Her. She is said
to be one of four daughters cherished by
an ancient king. She was known for her
two faces.
Like any formidable women, she was
fierce, untamed and beautiful.
Porquerolles
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The relentless winds carved her
southern lines with sharp black cliffs
that plunged into the depths where
ferocious waves broke against her
sides. 

But she was also calm, soothing and
kind. Her curved northern lines were
filled with sandy beaches, delicately
licked by crystal waters. She always
sang with the cicadas, luring sailors
from the Seven Seas.

It is said that a famous loving pirate
gifted her of his entire treasure that
she kept hidden ever since. 
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She was so mesmerizing that an
Ancient Serpent fell for her and
jealously fought prying sailors with
its fire breath.

The Leviathan was named
L'Alycastre and made its lair in a
deep and dark cave pierced in the
bluffs of a windy beach.

Those who dared to venture in the
cove would hear the serpent's fainted
roar blended with the waves. 
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She wore the most
exquisite perfume,
the sourness of citrus,
the exotic scent of
eucalyptus and the
salted brine. 
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From the first time I saw Her,
I knew. Like many men and
women before me, I had
fallen for Her.




She was named Porquerolles. 
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The way I see Porquerolles is a place where
the only time that matters is the living
present.

An island exempted from time zones.
We find a table at the café Côté Port. With
squared red sun umbrellas, red wooden
tables and red chairs, it is hard to miss the
salmon painted café.
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There is a golden light bathing the
Place D'Armes, I walk up the street
that hugs the square towards the
hotel Villa Sainte-Anne, below the
eucalyptus trees.
The dried and long yellow leaves
crack under my feet, I pick up the few
left green ones from the ground.
They still hold their strong exotic
scent.
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On the northwest side of Giens laid out
the village of La Madrague. Fishermen's
houses built on the shores and in the
numerous Calanques.
La Madrague
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In the Seventies, La Madrague
welcomed a French actress - Initials
B.B - the muse of many artists.
Filmed by Godard and sung by
Gainsbourg.

When she wasn't on the set of an
upcoming film or sauntering in the
streets of Saint-Tropez,
mesmerizing the crowds, she
retreated to La Madrague.

There she could often be seen
swimming in the crystal water of a
calanque, wearing nothing but her
blonde long curled hair.
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The waves gently rocked the small
fishermen boats, and you could hear the
waves breaking against the hulls that echoed
in the hollows of the wooden dock.  

With only a few fishermen casting off their
rode, and the colourful pointus lit by the
warm and soft sunset light, we watched the
timeless Madrague shifting into the
darkness of the night. This scenery was
worthy of Paul Cezanne's brushes. 
That night, however, we did not come for
an evening swim. Instead, we walked
down to the docks of the small port that
sheltered small old-fashioned boats.

Called Pointus, their colour palettes had
for equals only their maker's imagination.
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the places we often take
for granted. Through
collections of films,
photos and short
stories, I intend to
shares tales of these
familiar yet unique
places that I am lucky
to call home.
The series Familiar
Places is an open
letter of apology to all
,
If you made it this
far, thank you!
This story is dedicated to the
hardworking team preserving &
protecting these idyllic places that are the
Golden Islands.
Merci,
Robin
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CREATED BY

Commercial and lifestyle photographer & filmmaker. Based in Calgary, Alberta. Born and raised in France.

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