Milk churns, heifers, “the dream life on the mountain pastures” by photographer Gérard Benoit in La Guillaume

Gérard Benoît of La Guillaume has been carrying his hundreds of milk cans through the French countryside for years. But he also grew up around animals. It is therefore logical that he devotes part of his life to them. Meeting in Tierland in Haut-Jura.

Far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, peacefully in the mountains, Gérard Benoît à la Guillaume is overjoyed with his animals.

The character is both atypical and lovable. He never leaves indifferent. In these times, tormented by the Covid-19 health crisis, he made a choice. That of tranquility and quasi-loneliness.

Every summer and until September he grazes heifers on the heights of Septmoncel in Haut-Jura near Saint-Claude. Cows that he feeds, monitors and also photographs.

Gérard feels at home in this environment. From a young age he was involved with farm animals. Very quickly he began photographing the rows of cows at the Haut-Doubs and Haut-Jura shows.

On the pasture, the man is fulfilled, just happy with his animals, even if he doesn’t define himself as a true shepherd.

I’m not a shepherd, just a heifer. The herdsman has animal husbandry and care skills that I do not have. I feed them and make sure they’re okay, it makes sense of what I’ve done as a cow photographer so far.

Gerard Benoit in La Guillaume

The man still fumbles around a little when it comes to moving the animals from one meadow to another, especially since with our presence that day and that of Muffin, my dog, whom they don’t know, the cows were a little lost.

Gérard is never really alone in his little paradise. He can count on the valuable advice of Daniel, his friend and neighbor, almost every day.

Far away from city and health problems, Gérard and his friends regularly meet up at the Chalet de la Burdine to eat together. Mostly a simple meal. Because when there is electricity, there is no running water on the pasture. The dishes are prepared with the water reclaimed from the roof, the same that was used to water the cows.

But no need for comfort, life flows peacefully in La Burdine. Gérard Benoit from La Guillaume is happy to share this joy.

After the nap, action is announced again. With his friends, the two “Daniel”, Gérard takes over the installation of his famous “Cans Without Limits”.

milk cookers, which he likes to transport throughout France. He arranges them in the landscapes to emphasize the reliefs. Cans that are also “people” each have their own name. And when Gérard puts them on with the thoughtfully positioned lid, the inquisitive character’s eyes, big smile and head are easy to spot.

Grazing cows help shape and revitalize landscapes. By then installing the cans, I highlight the work done.

Gerard Benoit à la Guillaume

At the end of a day at his side, I believe I have understood the artist’s philosophy. A nature, animal and photography lover who will settle for little to be happy. For years he has been wearing his bidons sans frontières and photographing them. He’s always been around cows and each time he learns a little more about them. Life is actually not that complicated, what if happiness were?

The complete report can be found on the antenna of France3 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Saturday March 26 at 11:25 am in the “En Terre Animale” program.

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