Guillaume Blot documents food and football across the country in L’Autre Tour de France

The French photojournalist documents France’s diverse range of regional dishes against a sporting backdrop.

Date
28 February 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

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We’re all partial to the delights of a burger van, whether at festivals or football games, that wonderful smell of fried onions is often there for you in your time of need.

French photojournalist Guillaume Blot’s photography project Buvettes (meaning refreshments in French), takes an appreciation of these establishments to another level. L’Autre Tour de France documents the fast food cuisine outside football stadiums up and down the country, focusing on the people in front of, and behind the counter. It also looks at the wider regional variations of foods served in one of Europe’s largest countries.

Buvettes was born in 2015. At the time I was testing restaurants for Le Fooding Guide. I then had the idea to independently review the best refreshment stands in each French football stadium, accompanying the texts with photos of fans eating,” Guillaume tells It’s Nice That. “I love the pre-game atmosphere, when people gather around a hot dog and a pint, and it's super photogenic, with all the colours of the sauces, the fries, jerseys and scarves.”

As Guillaume mentions, the images visually translate the assault on the senses that standing outside a football ground can provide. From the bright and vivid colours of clothing to the smell of frying onions or sausages, it aims to capture the moments of a football match that are just as integral as the game itself.

“It’s a ritual for many spectators wishing to ‘have a bite to eat’ and ‘drink a little pint’. The food participates to the community just as much as the bleachers,” says Guillaume. “Sport, snacks and drinks then become pretexts for exchange and discussion with one's neighbour, against a background of electrogenic noises and the smell of gravel.”

Many of the images are comedic in nature, from chips strewn all over the floor to people using sauces for eyes. However, that is not to say that there are not tender and thought-provoking photographs too – most notably, spectators caught mid-thought.

Guillaume, who grew up in Nantes, entered into photography through journalism and writing. He wanted images to accompany his words. However, as of a few years ago, his photographic work has overtaken his writing. He now works with a range of prominent clients such as Liberation and L’Express as well as being a member of Hans Lucas agency.

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Guillaume Blot: L'Autre Tour de France

He feels that this move into photography has allowed him to get closer to his subjects than he could as a writer: “I like photography as a medium that facilitates both meeting and experience. I use my camera as an excuse to go and talk to people more easily, especially in the street, or to go to places that are difficult to access,” he says.

Guillaume’s approach to the project is an evidently journalistic one, telling a story while documenting a changing social phenomenon at the same time. “The project is a particular study of local culinary specialities (Breton sausage cake and Marseille pizza in particular), as well as the ‘physical’ evolution of the food stands transformed by the new large stadiums,” he goes on. “But also, it's about the changes in the way fans consume, with the appearance in particular of mobile applications allowing them to order their merguez from their seats.”

Not satisfied with just one Tour de France under his belt, Guillaume has decided to develop the association between sport and food, but on an altogether larger scale in a series called Cafe des Sports.

“I just wondered what was the most popular bar name in France, and after some research, I found that of 610 signs listed in France, the "Café" and "Bar des Sports" occupy the top 2 places. I then started a new tour of France last summer with the Blotmobile (my van) stopping in every café with that name on my way.

By covering this niche subject in such a comprehensive way, Guillaume demonstrates the visual and conceptual extensiveness of the subject. “My photos and the accompanying texts are intended to document everyday community’s refreshment stands, cafes, truckers or bingos in the form of immersive photography and portraits,” he concludes, “showing what habit makes invisible, pointing out details and anecdotal evidence.”

GalleryGuillaume Blot: L'Autre Tour de France

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Guillaume Blot: L'Autre Tour de France

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About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.

cfc@itsnicethat.com

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