Vive le school run: Children's journeys to school in rural Brittany are packed with mini-adventures

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

In rural Brittany, children travel by boat, bike or walk through woods to get to school. Photographer Stéphanie Tétu captured their adventures.

There are intimate, whispered confidences, spirited scrambling and clambering over any and all surfaces, bleary-eyed mornings in the half-dark, crafty cigarettes at the bus stop, and, of course, plenty of snogging. This is how adolescents get to and from school: forget the passive mundanity of an adult's commute, these journeys are stuffed full of small, everyday teenage dramas.

French photographer Stéphanie Tétu was commissioned by the General Council of Morbihan, in Brittany, to undertake a project called The Long Way Round, snapping the region's middle school pupils –aged between 11 and 14 – as they journey from their homes to their schools. The Council was inspired by an ambitious Unesco art exhibition, shown in Paris, called Journeys to School, which showed pupils all over the world making their daily trip.

And while Tétu's remit is naturally more focused, and, she acknowledges, "not so exotic", the aim was still to show the "different contrasts" of the Morbihan region: "the coast is very rich and in the middle, it's very rural. They wanted to show every side: the city, the suburb, also immigrant-origin pupils – it's political!" she concludes with a laugh. The images have just gone on display at a photography festival in La Gacilly in southern Brittany, where they'll be exhibited until September.

Tétu's work often involves photographing families, and she enjoyed being able to focus on young people. But there were challenges. "I wasn't really allowed to enter into their homes – people in Brittany are a bit shy, or prude," as she puts it. Many of the children also had to get upf very early – when it was still dark – so capturing the mornings wasn't always easy.

She photographed pupils from nine schools across the region; some of these were more welcoming than others. "[Photographing] was very quick till 8am, and after that they said 'OK, bye bye, see you at five' when they get out! It was a bit difficult – some schools opened the classrooms and playgrounds [to me], some were very strict."

If she was able to talk to pupils during their breaks, then after-school shoots became much easier: she could gain their trust – and their mobile numbers – so that they could arrange a time to take a few snaps (some still send her little text updates on their love-lives today).

While many of Tetu's images have an almost documentary style, as if the pupils are unaware of her presence or ignoring the camera, she explains this was not the case. Tetu actually chatted to them all a lot before any of the shots, getting to know them – and she says the teenagers were often quite happy to pose for the camera, or be caught kissing or larking about with each other.

"It's their principle preoccupation: [this journey time] was a way of seducing, of growing up, getting a boyfriend or girlfriend," she says. "After school, they were thinking of that all the time – it was fun."

While a lot of journeys were a fairly dull combination of "lift to the bus stop, get on the bus", Tétu liked to turn her lens on those with more unusual routes: pupils who were trusted to cycle by themselves, who had to walk through a wood, or even take a boat in order to get to school. The freedom of these moments of transition, between home and school, appealed to her.

Tétu's favourite journey was that of a small gaggle of kids who go to school on the island of Houat, travelling from another island called Hoedic by boat. The islands were so small that there were only a handful of pupils, and they all knew each other very well: "After school they went to the beach. Even though it was cold they went swimming. There were some cars on the island, but very few. They are very free and close to nature".

Stéphanie Tétu's photographs are on display at Festival Photo La Gacilly until 30 September; festivalphoto-lagacilly.com

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own