I have already told you about this bus stop located right next to the Petit Marché in Saint-Denis, one of the busiest places in the city. It is a strategic point in the city because it is a gateway to the city centre. The bus central station is a few hundred metres away and the Petit Marché attracts a lot of people who go to buy meat, vegetables or fruits. This stop also marks the end of the city centre in a way. To the east of this stop, the shops become scarce until they are non-existent. If we continue further east, Maréchal Leclerc Street is home to buildings where mostly Comorian or Mahoran families are crammed together. For a long time, this part of the city had a very bad reputation. It seems that things have changed a bit, but it’s still a place where you don’t want to hang out at night… During the day it’s different, so you don’t have to worry.
Very often, my wanderings stop at the Petit Marché bus stop. It’s almost an obligatory stop when I go to Saint-Denis to take photos. When I was taking pictures in Aix-en-Provence, I loved spending time near the Belfry at the bottom of Gaston de Saporta. It was my very own corner. It was also the entry point to the city centre of Aix and the crossroads of several streets. I took countless photos there. I could feel the heart of the city beating there. Here in Reunion, the configuration is different. The street Maréchal Leclerc, this big artery passes right in front of the bus stop and that’s all. But for me it is the heart of Saint-Denis!
It’s not the most glamorous place. It is rather dirty and there is a rather idle population living on the streets and unfortunately drinking alcohol at a time when a café would be more appropriate. But it’s not a dangerous place. There are a lot of people and at no time do you feel unsafe. That’s my feeling now, but I have to say I was apprehensive about this corner of the city when I started documenting the streets of Saint-Denis. Like all entry points to cities, there is a lot of traffic. People come to do their shopping or to go home. Young people come to school and go home at the end of the afternoon. In short, a permanent coming and going that gives life to this place. This is the first thing that makes me come back to this place to take pictures.
The second thing is this feeling that I haven’t yet managed to capture the essence of this place. I’m going to go back to Provence for a while, where I spent more than 20 years. I’m going to talk about Cézanne. A well-known figure in Aix-en-Provence, but who also acquired a reputation that goes beyond the city of Aix-en-Provence. I am not comparing myself to Cézanne. I don’t have that pretension. I am not an Artist, I am just someone who observes his fellow human being… Cézanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire tirelessly throughout his life. This granite block well known to the people of Aix. I climbed this mountain many times when I lived in Provence. It was the symbol of the city. Cézanne must have painted this mountain many times for different reasons than I tirelessly photograph this bus stop at the Petit Marché. But I tell myself that there is nothing wrong with wanting to photograph the same place over and over again. It’s a bit like my own Sainte-Victoire …
This is the last photo I took here 2 weeks ago. Am I satisfied with this picture ? Yes, definitely. But I will come back again and again to the Petit Marché stop. Maybe I’ll rename it Sainte-Victoire Station from now on !