Travel

My Grandfather, the Far-Right Voter

French photographer Martin Bertrand documented the daily life of his grandfather—a far right-wing supporter.

by Martin Bertrand
Jun 9 2016, 3:10pm



This article originally appeared on VICE France.

My grandfather's name is Jean-Patrick, but everyone calls him Jean-Pat. He lives in a village of 100 people, about half an hour by car from the French city of Angers. Even though he still works, he spends most of his time with other old people and farmers, and he's bitter about the state of our society. He votes for the National Front, the French right-wing party—far right, according to some. I don't agree with him, but I understand where he's coming from.

He was born into a family of five brothers and two sisters, and left school at 16 to help support them. He first went to work in a factory, but after leaving the family home at 21, he opened a restaurant with my grandmother in Verdun.

Today, Jean-Pat is 59 and works in milk transportation—he drives around the countryside at night with his tanker collecting milk from local farmers. He's worn out. A while ago, he had an operation on his knee. He has never claimed benefits when he was out of work—he thinks that's an abuse of the system. He likes gardening and fishing and once swore to me that he had only one regret in life: "I wish I had studied longer. I would have liked to have been a cabinet maker, to have worked with wood."


We don't talk about politics, but I know his opinions. He votes for the National Front mostly because he is worried about the government constantly reforming the pension system. He thinks he needs to work for another year before he can retire, but it's hard to tell. "Every week I hear news that the pension system has changed," he tells me. He's bitter and frustrated—he feels that he has spent his life contributing to society and that it's giving him nothing in return.

Our different outlook on life and society doesn't affect our relationship—our passion for photography keeps us close. Because of that shared passion and our different views, I wanted to capture moments in my grandfather's day-to-day life—the moments that tell the most about who he is, what his life is like. In the process, I got to spend a lot of time with him.

More of Martin Bertrand's work can be found on his website and on Twitter.