Rachel Cobb: Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence

Rachel Cobb (Photographer) Bill Buford (Introduction by)


Mistral is a portrait of Provence seen through its legendary wind. Photographer Rachel Cobb illustrates the effects of this relentless wind that funnels down the Rhône Valley, periodically gusting to 120 km per hour--hurricane strength on the Beaufort wind force scale.

The region has, accordingly, adjusted to accommodate the mistral's impact. Some houses are built the traditional way, with few or no windows on the windward side and the main entrance on the sheltered side. Heavy stones hold down terra-cotta roof tiles. Rows of trees lining fields create windbreaks to shield crops.

Cobb spent years chasing this capricious wind, challenging herself to photograph the invisible. As she became sensitive to its rhythms and effects, Cobb realized the mistral was not just a weather phenomenon; it was an integral part of the fabric of Provençal life. It was everywhere, yet always unseen.

Mistral captures this invisible force of nature through its effects: a leaf caught in flight, a bride tangled in her veil, spider webs oriented to withstand the wind and grapes lashed by powerful gusts ("You can taste the wine better when the mistral blows," a Châteauneuf-du-Pape winemaker says). Writers have also tried their hand at conjuring this ungraspable phenomenon. Excerpts from writings by Paul Auster, Lawrence Durrell, Jean Giono and Frédéric Mistral are included in this volume, a luminous evocation of nature's unseen power.

Product Details

$50.00  $46.00
Damiani Ltd
Publish Date
November 20, 2018
10.0 X 1.0 X 12.7 inches | 3.75 pounds

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About the Author

Bill Buford is an author and New Yorker staff writer, as well as the founding editor of Granta, which he edited for 16 years. His books include Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as a Kitchen Slave. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.


A lifelong fascination with the legendary winds of the South of France has yielded a lush and vibrant book--a work that resonates with the intensity of the forces it seeks to capture.--Chloe Schama "Vogue "
Can you capture the wind? No, this is not a riddle. This is what photographer Rachel Cobb set out to do - and not just any wind but le Mistral, the strong, cold wind that blows across Provence in the south of France. Cobb spent years photographing it, starting with Kodachrome film, ending with digital cameras. And she has collected her work in a new book.--Mary Louise Kelly "NPR All Things Considered "
American photojournalist Rachel Cobb has spent several decades capturing the legendary wind that blows through southern France. This relentless force of nature that can gust to hurricane strength is an integral part of the fabric of Provençal life.--Guardian
Cobb's new book, Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence, is a record of the 20 years she spent hunting the wind.--Marigold Warner "British Journal of Photography "
In beautifully evocative stills, a photographer captures the restless swirl of Province's famous wind.--Kim Hubbard "People "
Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence by photojournalist Rachel Cobb is a deeply wonderful, playful, and moving collection of images and text that prove her achievement of something seemingly impossible: photographing the invisible. ... Here, though, there is huge success. Mistral achieves the impossible. ... I found myself lingering over the photographs, imagining the stories behind the shots. Mistral is among those great photobooks that provoke a creative imagining in the viewer's heart and head. .... If I were writing Hollywood hype, I'd use phrases like "instant classic".--W. Scott Olsen "Lensculture "