A diagonal view of social misery in France

In a project led by the French Catholic charitable association Le Secours Catholique, dedicated to providing assistance to people suffering poverty and social exclusion, five photographers from the Paris-based photographic agency MYOP travelled France to record scenes and personal accounts of economic and social deprivation in a series of separate reportages. They traced a geographical line south-west from the Ardennes region of north-east France, ending at the foot of the Pyrenees near the Atlantic coast.

Their work, a collection of photographic portraits and sound interviews, will be the subject of an exhibition in Paris from November 20th to December 1st (see more details at the bottom of this page).  Here, Mediapart has chosen a selection of their portraits, in picture and sound, which illustrate an everyday misery of poverty and despair endured by increasing numbers of France’s rural and semi-urban populations.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

  1. Givet, in the French Ardennes. Outside the abandoned Cellatex factory. This was the starting point for the reportage, in the Ardennes region of north-east France, close to the border with Belgium. The region is one of the worst hit in France by industrial decline.

    The Cellatex factory in the town of Givet produced viscose fibre. In 2000, after it was placed into receivership, the factory’s laid-off employees occupied the site, threatening to use the plant’s chemical stock to blow up the buildings and pollute the nearby river Meuse. The high-profile protest drew widespread media coverage and ended after an agreement for greater redundancy payments was reached.

See all portfolios