A little story about where life can take you

8 Sep

“Sometimes life is deciding for you”, said Nicolas while smoking his cigarette at the balcony.

Our first stop over in France was with Nicolas in Angers. Thomas and Nicolas met 28 years ago in a school exchange (Pornic – Bremen). They stayed in contact since then and Nicolas’ home is one of Thomas’ favoured stop overs in France.

At breakfast, Nicolas told us the story of his grandfather. We were both hooked and found ourselves asking thousands of questions and watching 100-years-old pictures.

At the beginning of the XXth Century, Nicolas’ grandfather was at the officer’s school in the army of the Tsar. He came from Kiev (today Ukraine). After the communists took over, he was forced to escape, like hundreds of thousands of Russians. He embarked on a ship via the Black Sea and Greece to Marseille. Being from academic and aristocratic background, he must have felt quite lost once stranded in beginning-of-the-century’s France, without any money. He worked in factories to make a living.

He originally wanted to migrate to the US. His journey brought him via Paris to Nantes (west of France, the entrance gate to Brittany) where he bought a camera. Owning a camera at that time made him a professional photographer. He settled in the small Brittany harbour town of Pornic (where Thomas learned his French). He founded a family with a 100% local woman, who is 94 years old today. He never left the city again and today the shop, situated right at the harbour, is run by his grandson, Nicolas’ brother.

Already 100 years ago, the world was smaller than we may think. We imagined how this man could have felt, having to leave his country forever, and arriving in a new country without money, being unable to speak the language. It also feels special that the business he started many years ago is today still living on with his grandson, all along the changes from black-and-white pictures to coloured pictures to digital photography.


2 Responses to “A little story about where life can take you”

  1. Chrissi September 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm #


    • pascal October 6, 2010 at 8:20 am #

      Je ne connaissais pas cette histoire…Merci pour le reportage.Bon voyage!

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