Now celebrating its 114th edition – “le Congrès des Notaires de France”- this institution of French civic, legal and political life, is an event I have now covered for the last four years.
Each year I approach it with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension, not least because it represents an intense physical and mental effort, shooting 15 hours for four consecutive days, and working into the small hours uploading a résumé of the day’s pictures onto the Congress website.
This year, however, there was a particular enticement, as the Convention was being held in Cannes. It was taking place in the Palais des Festivals, following on just one week after the internationally renowned film festival, and while crossing paths with a bunch of drab-suited legal types, is not quite as sexy as capturing the likes of Cate Blanchett or Johnny Depp on the red carpet, the town exudes a charm and glamour that it is difficult not to embrace. Having arrived a full 36 hour before official proceedings began, I allowed myself the leisure of walking the palm-tree lined promenades, taking a dip in the sea, and staring vainly into the alluring shop-windows, calculating how many more conventions I would need to cover before I could indulge in some serious designer dressing !
While no doubt for your average French citizen, the Notaries represent a privileged, protected and rich section of society, the reality is that the core of the Convention is made up of commissions and debates, concerning propositions for modification to state legislation, and these have been prepared by Notaries working and studying the subjects for 2 years on a voluntary basis.
I felt a particular rapport with this year’s Congress President, Emmanuel Clerget, a very approachable, sensitive and down-to-earth person, and being respected and made to feel at ease by him and his team, made my job a very satisfying experience.
Below is a selection of the highlight moments at Cannes, including the conferences, the appearance of Nicole Belloubet, justice minister, some of the evening entertainments, and the intervention of Pierre Rabhi, farmer, writer, thinker of Algerian origin and a pioneer of the French environmental movement.