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Carnet de voyage Haut-Atlas, Maroc. Jacques Bravo

The Aït Bouguemez valley

Vallée des Ait Bouguemez

There is something of the Himalayas or the Andes mountain range in these high valleys which take advantage of a few streams, inflated ten days a year, to maintain a meticulous gardening agriculture, persevering, often more than two thousand meters altitude. Seen from above, that is to say from a barely higher mountain, the mosaic of fields, ingenuity of the plot which takes advantage of the least bit of arable land to shelter a seed, is a hymn to the life.


These valleys should be, in all geological and meteorological logic, a desert for insects and rodents intended to feed some birds of prey. However, they offer green pulsations that creep in, infiltrate, thread their way between the rocks, the dizzying peaks, like a giant animal looking for a way out. Oasis without palm trees, almost without water, overwhelmed by all the differences in temperature. Nuts replace dates.

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The ear of barley does not count thirty grains. On cereal threshing grounds, ethical beanies trample the sheaves, making him throat, as seen in the photo taken in Timmit, where a young boy "touches" the sheaves with striking ardor, while his father leads the team. It is perfect autarky. With obviously its limits for women and men.

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It is however the most endearing of countries. The most difficult to navigate because you have to follow the most overwhelming level lines.

A world that plays with benchmarks, not because it is not hospitable, on the contrary, but because it is its nature: bare. Potential prey for semi-nomads from the east who owe excellent spring pastures. The sheep war is not a nonsense. It is always a risk because the attackers from Djebel Saghro are not better off by nature.

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The harvest is carried out very early, the women immediately carry the heavy sheaves on the threshing floor, one only distinguishes their feet. Work is always collective, it is an essential factor of social cohesion

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Aghbalou, the sources in Berber. at almost 2,000 meters, you can see the area to beat in the upper right.


The scouting is done with four donkeys and a cow, this time led by two little girls.

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I chose this image of a village because it was taken from the terrace where I slept, on the coldest nights of my life, at my friend Mohammed Achari's, child of the village and man of good adventures who, the first , led the guides from Chamonix to attack M'Goun. A village in apiary fragments whose “bees” are the most efficient in the world.

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A peasant woman leads a lean but healthy cow.

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Again ? You can take this same village ten times, never from the same angle: I made three long stays there. Tabant is exemplary by its absence of particular signs: it is not a postcard village to illustrate "the hundred most beautiful villages of Morocco" (there are thousands!), It is the expression of a daily truth.



After the storm. Too much water at once and never enough regular rains

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Mohammed Achari's cousin bakes bread in her oven for the entire hamlet, half a dozen houses. The bread, brought each morning, is marked with a distinctive sign: each woman prepares her kesra for her family at home.

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One of the hamlets, earthen construction with terraces not necessarily adapted to the weather.

Like an astonished face…

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This girl often saw me that week. I will never be a loved one, but I am no longer a stranger: she benefits. While her mother had prepared henna, She had put her hands in the dish and, mischievous, shows me the result later.

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I was seated, quiet, watching for the infinite movements that the wind, brisk at this altitude, causes in the still thick grasses of the melting snow, agitating a flowery swell. End of June is the start of summer in the preserved mountains of Aït Bouguemez, in the heart of the Atlas. Then I saw a bunch of herbs move differently, faster: it was not going in the direction of others, it was going somewhere! Then, as in a film, imperceptibly “the” character appears: under the growing haystack, a face stands out, then a silhouette takes shape… It enters the scene. She goes immediately, the herd does not wait. Make no mistake, what seems like an armful of herbs is a heavy bundle. The natural beauty of the shepherdess should not make us forget the hardness of the demanding task. Beauty that was given to me for a few seconds.

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jeunes filles jouant dans la vallée
Un âne décoré avec des coquelicots dans la vallée
Une femme et son enfant sur une mule

Woman going to a wedding with her daughter.

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Sidi Moussa.

The pyramid is perfect, you have to observe it closely to discover, crowning its summit, an attic fortress, a structure typical of the country of Berber mountaineers. If everyone harvested their fields, the reserves were pooled and securely guarded. If the grain does not die ... The only slope in glaze could discourage looters or henchmen from a too greedy boss. But, to ensure the consumption of spring, the famous “welding”, a guard watched. Everyone was going to help themselves according to their needs. The man kept watch day and night in this pantry which has no equivalent elsewhere. At his feet, future harvests…

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At the foot of the hill of Sidi Moussa, an early morning kiss. We are in the happy valley.

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The muezzin calls to prayer: it will probably not be replaced by a sound system. His voice rings out far into the valley and its echo spreads.

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The Sunday market: a real mountain market, with essential products. Only men for shopping, as often. A woman, leaning against the terrace, turns her back on them. Below, beautifully dressed to go to a party, a fifteen-year-old girl glances behind the window. It's Fatima, the daughter of my friend Achari.

Marché de Tabant , dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
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Women's work and child labor

Lavandières dans un ruisseau, dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
Fermière et sa poule dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
Deux enfants actionnent la manivelle d'un puits pour tirer l'eau dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
Fabrication d'un tapis dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
Construction de maison dans la vallée des Ait Bouguemez. Photographie de Jacques Bravo

Construction of a house of adobe and stones

Cascade d'Ouzoud

Ouzoud waterfalls

Les cascades d'Ouzoud au Maroc. Photographie de Jacques Bravo
Les cascades d'Ouzoud au Maroc. Photographie de Jacques Bravo

Beni Mellal

cavaliers de Fantasia
Les cavaliers de Fantasia et leurs chevaux pendant la fête des moissons à Beni Mellal. copyright Jacques Bravo

Beni Mellal.

It is the highlight of the Zaïan harvest festival. Inevitably, we think of Delacroix. I was perched on the roof of a car and the riders rushed on me, against the wind, developing an acrid dust which forced me to pivot to protect the lens. I had half a second to fix them in the mist of sand that ate them: unreal. Effectively masking the three thousand spectators. The centaurs are alone in my dream.

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Les cavaliers de Fantasia et leurs chevaux pendant la fête des moissons à Beni Mellal. copyright Jacques Bravo

Towards the Imperial road

Carnet de voyage à Meknès, Maroc
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