Roth et Ramberg sont comme les locaux

We managed a handful of notable accomplishments today.

1. Squeezed in a photoshoot at the bakery before catching the 9:30am ferry back to Saint Pierre.

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2. Dale used the word ‘vert’ correctly. Unfortunately, it was to describe the colour of Elise’s face during the ferry ride back to Saint Pierre. The waves were so big even the Gravol got queasy.

3. Complained that there were too many tourists. Overnight ‘our’ town has been infiltrated with visitors arriving for Bastille Day, including a ship carrying 130 individuals from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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4. Snuck in a two-hour, seven-day overdue nap.

5. Caught Joël’s band playing at the local pub, La Chauve Souris. One of our Tourist Information helpers came over with her friend and they even bought us a beer.

Mostly today was used to recharge, do a bit of shopping, eat more macarons and have a few drinks.

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retour au travail demain

 
 

Roth et Ramberg expérience le vent de la mer

Thankfully our faces have sun kissed glows from yesterday, because today isn’t nearly as nice. In fact, it doesn’t really feel like summer at all. When the wind blows in off the water, the temperature drops considerably. Chilly temperatures and wind aren’t great for taking photos, but overcast skies tend to give agreeable soft light.

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Our first visit of the day was to see Roger. Roger is a self-taught naturalist who welcomed us into his home for a short lesson on the island’s flora and fauna. He’s been an avid bird watcher for 39 years and has a cabinet full of dried vegetation specimens. Plus, he’s a dedicated whale watcher. He showed us how to differentiate between different humpback whales by comparing their flukes (tails), which act like fingerprints. The big bonus for Elise was that he spoke English incredibly well. Apparently translating is way harder when you don’t even know the words in English, go figure.

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For a small community Miquelon has a significant amount of historical artifacts. We visited their museum and it was full with rare stuff including: old French money, a funny cigarette making machine, a dried/salted cod from 1992, along with more interesting but less bazar fishing things and some old radios.

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The archipelago, or group of islands, has a long history of being fought over by the French and the English. From what we understood, most of this had to do with wars and fishing rights. And no matter what the English did, the French always returned. We’re not doing their history justice. It sounds incredibly interesting but would take more than a year to comprehend and more than a paragraph to explain.
 
We took lots of pictures today, including some calendar worthy photos of a musician, a fisherman and also Patricia’s dad who seems to be a jack-of-all-trades from fishing to music and gardening.
 
Big thanks to Patricia, from l’Auberge de l’Ile, who introduced us to many wonderful people during our stay and made things happen.
 
demain c’est le retour à Saint-Pierre
 

roth et ramberg arriver au paradis

Although it’s called Saint Pierre and Miquelon, there is also Langlade. The town of Langlade is a summer community for people from Saint Pierre. About 600 people relocate here for the warm months, but nobody stays through the winter. Miquelon on the other hand is the same size, but everyone stays year-round. According to our guide, the population is always around 600 people. That probably works out to about 3 people per square kilometer of land. Hey, can you move over? It’s really crowded here.

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This morning we took the ferry from Saint Pierre to Langlade. It runs daily to transport passengers and supplies. The ride is a beautiful hour of scenic coastlines and the occasional glimpse of a whale or two if you happen to be looking the right direction.

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As we approached Langlade this morning, we began to wonder where the dock was. It’s not like you can just pull a ferry up to the shore, unload and push it back out to sea. But Langlade doesn’t have a dock. Instead our crew put on hip waders and shuttled us ashore in a black Zodiac. Had this not been in broad daylight, it would have been incredibly stealth. And had we not shared the Zodiac with a bunch of children headed for summer camp, we might have pretended we were sitting along the edge in scuba gear ready to flip backward into the water. Maybe we can plan that into our next trip.

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It took them three trips to transport everyone and the luggage to the shore. And with great community spirit, the men formed a line from the Zodiac and passed all the bags hand to hand up to waiting vehicles. Our guide Patricia was there to greet us. Patricia and her husband, Claude, run a wonderful bed and breakfast in Miquelon called, l’Auberge de l’Ile. We can’t say enough great things about it or them.

The Tourist Information centre in Saint Pierre had helped us call ahead to arrange for Patricia to be our driver. It was impossible for us to rent a car, so she came with her truck to get us in Langlade and spent the entire day touring us around the islands. This arrangement was ideal. It started with a relaxing coffee break on the vista overlooking the sea, followed with meeting a shepherd, his herding dog and flock, and continued to build throughout the day. We picked wild strawberries and walked barefoot along a beach that felt like our toes were sinking into chocolate mousse. Plus, we saw a pod of seals and had the most delicious fresh snowcrab sandwiches you can imagine. Dale and Elise even thought so and they aren’t big on seafood. This really is paradise. 

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Not only is Patricia a fantastic tour guide, a warm hostess and wonderful chef—she’s one of the best agents/talent scouts we’ve ever had. She arranged for us to meet several people today and has our day jam-packed with interesting characters tomorrow. At this point we’re betting if we asked for a dancing cod, riding a horse, on a red fishing boat, she’d just pick up the phone and arrange it.

c’est juste une autre journée au paradis

 

Roth et Ramberg aiment les français

In case of emergency dial 1-8, there’s no 9-1-1 in Saint Pierre. This morning we met our friend Joël for a private tour of the local fire hall, the only one on the island. We’d met Joël playing guitar beside his wife’s organic grocery shop on Saturday. He’s in a country band and had sung us something he’d written. Strangely, the only word we really understood was ‘cowboy.’ Fitting for us since we’re missing the Calgary Stampede.

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And back to the fire hall. This station has the usual stuff, fire trucks, hoses, fireproof clothing, but these guys were most proud of two things. The big water pump that pumps 1000 gallons per minute, compatible with both saltwater and freshwater. And their old 1959 Ford fire truck, the only working fire truck of that year left in North America. It was actually retired last year, but it’s still considered a viable backup.

We only managed to shoot two models today, but that’s okay because one of them bought us ice cream. We thought we’d lined up a seasoned fisherman for our first shoot, but something must have been lost in translation because there was nobody home. Onward.

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Our new ‘first’ model of the day was a runner named Gaston. He started running at 45 and is now in his 70s. From what we can tell, age isn’t slowing him down at all. We even saw him take stairs two at a time. He was very animated with lots of stories to share and spoke English well, which made the shoot fun and easy. We were even invited back for a drink later and upon our arrival back to Gaston’s we found this note on the door.

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Another gem we had the opportunity of photographing today was a local artist named Patrick. Stamps are a big deal here, in fact they’re world famous for stamps, and many local artists have been commissioned to create them including Patrick and his daughter. Patrick has been creating illustrations for Saint Pierre and Miquelon stamps for over 25 years. His studio is an artists dream and to think, he just does this as a hobby. We were extremely fortunate to have met this man and seen some original drawings from his stamps. Upon our departure, Patrick generously gave us each a signed copy of his book, which is a history of his stamp art.

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This is Saint Pierre hospitality. It seems to be everywhere, across the board. From the ladies at the tourist shop bending over backwards to organize our travels to the restaurant that gave us takeout in their personal Tupperware.

demain nous partons pour Miquelon

roth and ramberg obtenir une voiture

Today we did a happy dance. Or at least we would have, if we weren’t sitting on nice leather seats driving through the countryside. To fully appreciate this moment, one must know where it began.
 
It started after we got the Ford Explorer unstuck, which was just after we hauled large flat rocks to put under the spinning tire. That was after we used a super clamp to replace the missing crank arm on the jack. Which was after we tried that same sequence, with some wood that just spat out from under the spinning tire. This, of course, was after we got the vehicle stuck, as far away from town as possible. Which was after we consciously rented a vehicle with no electrical—no power windows, power locks or instrument panel containing the speed and gas gauge. And this was after being told we couldn’t get a rental because the windows didn’t go down. 
 
That precious moment was after two rental places told us they did, and then did not, have anything to rent. And this, dear friends, was after we’d already waited three days for them to open so that we could rent one. So, despite our legs sticking to the hot leather seats in our sweaty rental, we were living the high life. We now have transportation.
 
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Also worthy of celebrating was the fact that it’s hot and sunny. The weather in Saint Pierre is generally foggy in July, but we lucked out with gorgeous blue skies. Plus, we captured our first calendar worthy person today. Our first models are actually third generation Saint Pierre-ians. They were natural subjects and happy to have a chance to do something different then their normal routine.
 
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French normal routine for adults is a 35-hour work week, Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 12:00pm, lunch then 2:00pm to 5:30pm. This is quite the adjustment for those accustom to working all hours of the day. We just can’t seem to get it through our heads that they aren’t always available. Not to mention they all have five weeks vacation a year, they’re living the life. 
 
Today we ate supper at the same time as the French—that’s anytime after 8:00pm, the later the better. And it’s the same for the children; they stay up late and even get to sleep in. No such luck for us, we’ve got four models lined up for tomorrow.
 
beaucoup plus d’aventures demain
 

roth et ramberg gravir une montagne

Roth et Ramberg gravir une montagne!

It’s Sunday and since most shops are closed we seized the opportunity to sleep in a bit. Our room is a cozy ‘family’ room with two beds and a pullout couch. The only downside is that Dale saws logs, so we end up dreaming of dirt bikes, chainsaws or old lawnmowers with pull starts. Somehow we manage to sleep through it all and start the day ready for adventure. Today’s adventure started with late morning omelettes and potato juice for Dale. That is what he ordered, jus de pomme de terre. Thankfully this wasn’t the waiter’s first tourist blunder so he brought Dale some apple juice instead.

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Speaking of food, we finally located the macaroon shop and to our surprise and delight it was open. We knew that eating macarons in France would probably make them taste a bit better, but we wanted mind-blowing. We wanted it to be the best macaron tasting experience ever, so we climbed the ‘mountain’ overlooking the city to eat them.

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The hills here aren’t exactly the Rockies, but many refer to them as mountains. And being able to climb a mountain in thirty minutes gives you a wonderful sense of satisfaction, a great view of the city and the ideal place to eat macarons. You could call it a ‘Mountaintop Macaron Moment’ or perhaps just ‘Triple M’ for short.

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We rounded things off with a quick trip to the Museum, Musée de l’Arche. It’s a tourist destination, but also one of the only things open on Sunday. The most interesting thing we learnt was about the colourful buildings. We’d been wondering why the majority of the buildings were painted so brightly and apparently they haven’t always been so. Historically, they were known to have muted tones of white and beige with only limited use of yellow and red. We still aren’t clear as to why the bright colours were introduced, but it might have something to do with a visitor from the early ninety hundreds calling the town “a study of gray and brown.” And what the heck, it looks lovely and undoubtedly makes it easier to find your house in a snowstorm.

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Today’s jackpot was Cathy Simon. Cathy runs a small tourist shop on the main road and sells custom painted pottery. Oddly enough a few years back she’d brought a photographer in to take photos of Saint Pierre for souvenir postcards and books. Understandably, we were very excited to meet her. With enthusiasm she started to help. She pulled out the local phonebook from behind the register, about ten-pages thick, and started cold calling people. Perhaps it’s not a cold call when whoever’s on the other end knows who you are, but still.

Our feet are tired from climbing ‘mountains’ and exploring. It’s time to get to bed before Dale so we can dream of macarons instead of lawnmowers.

plus de macarons demain

 

Roth et Ramberg se faire des amis!

Apparently it’s tough to go unnoticed in a town of 6000 residents, we’re already running into people we know. Of course, we’re using the term ‘know’ very loosely, but by the amount of things we’ve learnt about them it feels that way. That’s all part of small community charm and it’s magnified here due to geographic isolation from the rest of the world.

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Everyone is friendly and everything is nearby. You can get anywhere on the island in five minutes or less. Anywhere. That’s by car, but even walking most places is easy. We’re actually carless at the moment since we arrived on Friday night and we can’t rent a car until Monday morning. 

Two-legged transportation is great for burning calories, but isn’t ideal for lugging our gear. Getting a packhorse might be an option since horses appear to be plentiful. We’ve seen more of them than dogs and from what we hear there are over a hundred horses on the island. They appear to be Saint Pierre’s unofficial lawnmowers.

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Thankfully today is more about scouting, getting a lay of the land and discovering the incredibly friendly people. And they are beyond friendly. In fact our schedule has been filling up rather quickly despite our clunky French. On our travels today we were invited by a guitar-playing fireman to visit the fire station Tuesday morning and see his band on Friday. Another offered to take us on a private zodiac tour to Ile aux Marins, the abandoned historical site that used to be home to 800 fishermen. Plus, an elderly man tried to lure Michele in with a box of candy. Classic move. Thankfully he turned out to be a very proud world-class runner excited to show off his trophies. Ten minutes later he hosted us in his living room and invited us back for a longer visit on Tuesday afternoon. That didn’t even include our quick van tour of the island.

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Our heads are now spinning like a colourful carousel loaded up with French men. Fabrice, Jean-Claude, Joël, Jean-Pierre and Gaston all twirling around. A lot has happened since our day started off with a light breakfast of croissants.

bonne nuit

Roth et Ramberg sont arrivés

 

We’ve landed in Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Apparently most people arrive by ferry, but since we’re super classy folks we flew. The flight from St. John’s was only about 45 minutes and once onboard we were enclosed in France. This left Dale and Michele tongue tied as they quickly realized their French was lacking. Elise managed to resurrect French from her elementary school brain—then later thanked the customs officer in Spanish.

 

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Our taxi driver from the airport didn’t speak English and seemed disinterested in our mangled French. Getting him to warm up seemed futile, until a quick stop at a bank for Euros had him chuckling. We stayed in the car while Michele went to the bank and watched as she hopped about waving her arms trying to trigger the automatic door only to realize there was a side door. After that his character softened, we told him about our project and he told us he was Parisian. We’ve unanimously decided he’s solid calendar material, so expect a follow-up on Monsieur Taxi.

 

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After checking into room 213 at Hôtel Robert, we took to the streets to find some French cuisine and a litre of red. Le Feu de Braise ended up a charming choice. We did have trouble convincing our extremely nice and helpful waiter, Emmanuel, not to speak to us in English. His patience with our language struggles was as good as the food.

 

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A few hours wandering in Saint Pierre hasn’t told us much. Even online we had difficulty finding history about this place. We’ve heard tales of people being paid to live here and that it was previously known for smuggling booze. Someone even told us that Al Capone spent time here. So, tomorrow’s task is to dig up some history and get to know the locals.

 

à demain

 

 

#RandR2014

It’s Roth and Ramberg’s 2014 Calendar Trip. Funny enough, we launched our adventure with a technical glitch. Apparently, hashtags cannot contain ampersands. Oops! Please use the hashtag above and let’s get on with it.

Tonight is the beginning of our ten days of shooting what we want. Our goal is always the same, seek out the most interesting locals and bring them to your desktop—your literal desktop of course. If you’re new to the party, we’re a couple of photographers based out of Calgary and Vancouver. Our photo-capturing journey encompasses over 20 years and every year we shoot a desk calendar for our industry friends with subjects that inspires us. We’ve been everywhere from Vegas to Loch Ness.

This year we decided on France. Not ‘France’ France, but those two tiny islands off the coast of Newfoundland called Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The great thing is they speak French, use Euros and probably make a mean baguette. We both speak a tiny bit of French, but probably not enough to get by. So we brought along our writer friend Elise Russell. She knows a little more French and more importantly can take care of the words, which allows us to focus on what we do best.

Follow our blog or twitter for behind the scenes of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. And if you’d like a copy of the calendar send an email and we’ll add you to the list.

 

roth and ramberg are going to France... sort of

France, like you’ve never seen or even heard of.

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We’ve always wanted to do France for the calendar, but that always seemed a bit cliche for us. Luckily there’s a little bit of France on the wrong side of the water! A part of France that just happens to have a fancier flag. And let’s face it; we really wanted to go somewhere that has a flashy flag to shoot our 2014 calendar. After all, it is our 21st calendar so we were running a little short on ideas for themes and frankly we’ve been busy.

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Maybe you could wave this flag and show you liike waving flags! Or you know, support us on our calendar trip. Okay then, maybe you feel like waving this little flag around and taking a photo of it to play a photo game for prizes-snap!

Play the R&R Photo Game

1. Print out the flag here or save it to your desktop

2. Place the flag in a French setting (stuck in a croissant, or photoshopped in a Monet)

3. Post it on Twitter or Instagram with #R&R2014

4. Follow us on Twitter @rothandramberg

Every flag image you submit will be considered an entry at a chance to win great prizes. What kind of prizes? French ones. Like perhaps a French-fry eating French poodle or a French maid. Definitely a few large Roth and Ramberg limited edtions prints from our trip. The prizes are still in the conceptual phase, but if you’re lucky there might be some champagne and a French kiss.

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Prizes will be announced on our blog and Twitter, so stay tuned. Follow our trip at rothandramberg.com.

*If you’re old school you can email us your entry and we will post it for you