There is something mythical about the mistral wind– the strong, northwesterly blast that funnels down the Rhône Valley and sweeps across southern France. It creates the climate, and it’s part of Provençal culture. Renowned authors like Émile Zola and Jean Giono wrote of it in their works. And it’s exactly this subject that photographer Rachel Cobb has spent the last two decades capturing in images.
“I first stepped foot in Provence at age 13, before Peter Mayle put the region on the international map. Back then, the village we visited regularly did not even have street lights or a bakery. On nights when the mistral blew, I would lie awake and listen to it howl down the chimney, making the flue bang in fits and starts. Everybody else complained about it, but I loved it. Many people associate the sound of cicadas in the heat with Provence, but for me it’s the wind. The way it sounds, the way it makes everything come alive and dance — trees, flowers, scarves. The mistral is like an invisible spirit moving over the region’s rugged beauty.” — Rachel Cobb
One hundred images from this long-term project documenting the “devil mistral” were published last fall in Cobb’s Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence (Damiani). Folia Gallery in Paris (13 Rue de l’Abbaye, 75006) is mounting an exhibition featuring large scale prints of images from the book that will open on June 26 and remain on view until July 13, 2019. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the photos, showing the impact of this relentless force of nature on life in Provence. The book is available for purchase on Amazon below.