The Sadness and Fascination of the Deserted French Prison

I grew up in Luxembourg in the 1970s, a tiny, prosperous and cosy Grand Duchy, shielded from darkness and evil. Yet a short drive beyond the border was the northern edge of France, a place of rust and poverty, tatty, derelict, and rough. I was fascinated by the sight of prisons and barracks, windows into a side of French life that was lit by yellow neon and framed by dark, shuttered windows. On a recent visit to Rennes in Brittany I was drawn to the now abandoned men’s prison, and as the prison was no longer in use, felt free to photograph it. What lies behind those rusty bars and cracked windows now? How would it be to wander inside the silent shell, home to ghosts and mice?


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