Giffre, Nant & Praz.     


“Le guegni vâ le dire.”
“The sight worth a speech”. 
Proverb from Haute-Savoie, France.

In the French Alps, the Giffre valley explores as much as geography, biography and symbols. The aesthetic sense of nature is linked with the cultural development of societies and with of our own life’s perception. I went up the Giffre river that runs through the valley, taking its source in a mountain circus called literally “the end of the world” (“Le bout du monde”), at the border between France and Switzerland. But is there an actual source as a starting point of the water ? This quest is merely symbolic.

All along this "nant" (stream, in the local dialect), on the expanses of the "praz" (field), the wood and the rock confront the faces of its inhabitants. After going many years to the same place, it questions your relation with the evolution of time, what appears and disappears. We project thoughts and feelings in nature, that sends back to us reflections of them. The natural geography is in a constant state of movement, having both its own independent changes and the intertwined action of the human being, creating the context of our aesthetical experience and, in some way, responsibility.

In our modern era, over urbanized and connected, the mountaineering territory of the Giffre valley offers an organic feeling and a form of contemplation. It reveals itself as a land of exploration, both in an intimate way as in an understanding of the real life stories of its people and landscapes.

The Giffre valley gives nevertheless the sensation to leave sometimes the Alps... One image, one place, summons another. Nature can be specific but also seems to have anchored in the collective mind a kind of universal feeling.

"Several times we stop. The yamtchik frees his big feet and goes in search of the road, but without success. I myself went to the side where I thought I would find it; I took six steps against the wind, and I became certain that everywhere the snow spread its white uniform layers, and that the road existed only in my imagination. I turned around : no more sleigh."
Leo Tolstoy, "A Snowstorm," 1856.

(Here are just some photos extracted from the whole project)