I’d driven past this part of the Cote d’Azur a few times without stopping. Then The Belgian made an appointment for us both and it appeared on my map. But it wasn’t new to my radar. The warm and kind wife of our village’s Maire that made us feel so welcome when we emigrated here was from Frejus. And there I was working in her home town.
There isn’t the same volume of cycling firms in the home of the Tour as the bordering on religious following over the border in Italy, but one of the few native names seen on cyclists in France is Ekoi. Ekoi is the baby of The Belgian’s interviewee that afternoon – Jean-Christophe Rattel.
Dotted about his offices were racing paraphernalia with famous names like Bardet and as I remember a great breakfast cafe opposite that meant yoghurt muesli and coffee before my pressing the buttons. It’s always easier to be the eyes than the ears in scenes like this.
Then a few months later my first overseas job as a native abroad was lined up to return to Frejus in the sun and with I was to discover, the best pizza in France being within earshot of the Italian border which makes sense I suppose.
So my 110 Defender and I packed up ready to fall in love with the Cote d’Azur all over again. The space, the hills, the views and that light. And it was about this period that I realised photographing people outdoors in the dry and under a blue sky wasn’t to be a rarity but a default scenario.
A regular scene then unfolded. Car full of cameras, bunch of cyclists, van of clothes and an atmosphere of a ride to be captured. My comfort zone.
Sitting on a rock with Roman Bardet’s girlfriend explaining her name was a ‘little cake’ in French.
Monique the Maire’s wife has yet to have a lift home but Frejus has become a regular-ish stop as a good stayover when delayed getting home from the alps staying opposite a garage that had a stockpile of Renault 5 Turbo 2’s next door to Ekoi’s warehouse. And every time I visit now I take a stroll past that garage…