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    Details of the commemorative plaque at the Mount Royal lookout at sunrise.
    “Marseille is my father and my mother and the family I still have and pray for every morning. Montreal is my life. You know, it’s very rare, but for me, Montreal is love. People here have soul. They have heart.” Clairette

    My Dear Montreal,

    My Dear Montreal, 

    I didn’t like you at first sight, on the contrary…
    My first escapades disturbed the 21-year-old who was, shall we say, leaving his quiet countryside behind. And my first apartment wasn’t attractive either. Luckily, my photography studies appealed to me right from the start. Over the months, I came to appreciate and even love you, so much so that I decided to dedicate my first coffee table book of photographs and interviews to you. 

    In “Français de Montréal”, journalist Éric Clément and I paid tribute to you by presenting the 20 love stories of such varied personalities as Frédéric Back, Clairette, Jérôme Ferrer, Paul Buissonneau and Chantal Jolis. To this day, their stories are still relevant to me. 

    Downtown skyscrapers reflected in the Peel Basin at sunrise.
    “Montreal is a city of departures and new beginnings. It’s a city of daring. There’s a real space to be and to mix, to move from one place to another.” Chantal Jolis

    To get to know you better, I first followed the easy paths of public transport. Then I decided to explore your every little corner on foot and, above all, by bike. At all hours of the day and night, we were together, my dear Montreal. Week after week, I cultivated my sense of belonging through encounters and new life experiences. It’s true: “We choose places not only for the places themselves, but also for the people who visit them”, said Minou Petrowski. 

    As soon as I arrived here, I was amazed by the human rainbow created by your people. This incredible diversity transforms your cultural activities, your festivals, your architecture, your atmosphere and even your smells. My dear Montreal, you are a window to the world. And as Frédéric Back explains, “It’s funny to hear young people speak their own language – Vietnamese, Creole or Indian – and then speak Quebecois and English too. They’re often very young children, and they already know three languages!”

    A gathering of several hundred people playing tam-tam in a verdant park.
    Every Sunday, hundreds of people gather at the foot of Mount Royal to play tam-tam. A festive atmosphere guaranteed!

    Small gathering and colourful atmosphere at the Old Port skating rink at night, with several historic buildings in the background.
    “My father always dreamed of coming to Montreal.” Guy Cogeval

    Drawing of a map and inscription “Little Italy, Montreal” on a yellow plaque near a park with tall trees.
    “Immigrants arriving in Montreal today feel this freedom, this space where you can sit and drink on a terrace, without feeling that you’re somewhere too much.” Joël Le Bigot

    And what about the seasons?
    With you, my dear Montreal, I’ve been as cold as I’ve sweated, and not just a little! Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt and appreciate these changes in temperature, colour and light. After all, as Nicolas Peyrac points out, Canada “is a country of extremes, with an 80-degree difference between winter and summer”. Of course, spring always arrives, but as Jean Gounelle reminds us, “you never know whether winter is over or not. The sun starts to shine, the temperature rises back above 10 degrees, and bam, a snowstorm in mid-April!”

    As the seasons changed, I followed my dreams rain or shine. I even passed important milestones, and the young student became a foreign worker, then a permanent resident and finally a citizen. To the identity question, “Who am I?”, I could answer these words by Nicolas Peyrac. “I am French, I am Canadian. I have both nationalities. I feel like a citizen of Montreal and at the same time a citizen of the world.” This state of mind is, of course, reflected in my work, since with you, my dear Montreal, I wear many hats, grocery store bagger, photographer and even assistant accountant. And by becoming self-employed, I’ve come to understand the words of Françoise Saliou, “anything is possible. You set up a business. You adopt a company name. You develop your activity.” On this path full of challenges, I felt free and in full control of my life.

    For many years, I stayed with you, my dear Montreal. 
    Then one day, I left you “for good” when I moved to the Charlevoix region with my lover Vanessa. Even though our family has visited you several times already, I hope our sons Léo and Lucas get to know you better. Of course, you still face many challenges today, but I’d like to think that you’re growing more beautiful with age. 

    Curious building resembling a spaceship with a huge mast inclined at the end of a stormy day, with a rainbow.
    “The Olympic Stadium is an architectural achievement. It was pretty fly for its time.” Françoise Saliou

    Lights from cars driving at night under a high arch at the entrance to Chinatown.
    “In Montreal, you can go to China a little, Portugal a little, Italy a little, Spain a little, etc.” Marc-Alain Wolf

    Icy river shore on a sunny day with skyscrapers in the distance.
    “The St. Lawrence River creates wide open spaces.” Frédéric Back

    So, when will I see you again, my dear Montreal?
    I don’t know, but you’ll always be in my heart the city of my first times: my first steps in North America, my first book, my first exhibition, my first TV interview, the preparation of my first bicycle trip, where I experienced my first real failure and my first Plan B… 

    Thank you, my dear Montreal, I’ve grown thanks to you. “Where I was reborn, I belong,” Jérôme Ferrer.

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