Gino, 56 years old, Italian, freight carrier. "I have been on the road for 33 years. I sleep on the side of the road at night, and in the morning there is no coffee or toilets before I get back to work." © Stéphanie Lacombe

A Rest Area

Stéphanie Lacombe

2019 – Ongoing — Paris, France

About this series

It’s nightfall and I’m driving on a four lane freeway near Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, outside of Paris. It’s raining and I’m surrounded by giant trucks. What is it like to be a truck driver, to spend one’s life on the road, inside a massive 3.5 tonne machine? Drivers cover more than 100,000 kilometres every year. They often start their day at 4am and drive for 12 hours, day or night, sleeping in a tiny cabin. They earn about 1,480 euros per month. They don’t see their kids grow up.

I spent time in freeway rest areas and parking lots, photographing drivers in their 4m2 cabins. Cri-cri la Flèche and Biscotte tell me they drive barefoot, sitting cross-legged, watching TV while driving. They organise barbecues at night between the trucks, take off their shoes before climbing into their cabins, which are always spotless. They wash in seedy showers and sleep in the carpool lanes when the parking lots are full.  Meeting these men triggered childhood memories: I watched them as a kid at my grandparents’ gas station. When you grow up with the smell of gasoline, it never leaves you. I wanted to see what had become of these humble men. Solitary men, former soldiers, men who changed their lives, passionate men mostly. There are 430,000 French truck drivers and 800 000 drivers in total, including foreign trucks, circulating in France every day.

Patrice, 50 years old, freight carrier. "I get up at two in the morning to avoid traffic and deliver my load to my clients in Paris at 6am. I drive about 1300 km every week so I look after myself: I love cooking nice things in my truck. I use my camp stove to cook eggs, then I seat at my camping table which I built just for my cabin." © Stéphanie Lacombe
Christian 50 years old, cereals highway carrier. "My truck is entirely dedicated to the french singer Mylène Farmer: she is on my sheets, my stuffed animals, she is everywhere, I couldn't drive without her". © Stéphanie Lacombe
Cricri dit la Flêche (Speedy), 51 years old, freight carrier. "All the truck drivers have a nickname, mine is La Flèche because I rush to work. I spent 15 years fishing on a trawler. I could see my kids every three months. Today I come home every weekend and I enjoy my grandchildren. I love panpipes, I listen to the song "White Roses" about mourning and I cry in my truck." © Stéphanie Lacombe
Pascal and Nathalie 48 years old, freight carrier. Nathalie and I met on a dating site three months ago. One weekend she came to my place, her car broke down and she never left. It was love at first sight! We both sleep on the single bed." © Stéphanie Lacombe
Christian 51 years old, special convoy driver. One year I spent the 31st of December on the parking area of a gas station. I was alone with my Champagne bottle and a little barbecue. ’I took 2 cups and I drank it with the cashier." © Stéphanie Lacombe
The Laundry. Merchandise trucks are not allowed on the roads during the weekend, except for refrigerated trucks. European truck drivers spend their weekend waiting on the highways' parking areas and do their laundry by hand . © Stéphanie Lacombe
Jean-Claude " la biscotte" 58 years old, tank truck driver. My friends were asking me if I was shaving with a biscotte, this is how I got my nickname. Tonight it's my birthday, I am 58 years old and I am looking at a video of my son." © Stéphanie Lacombe

Photographer: Stéphanie Lacombe
Nationality: French
Based in: Paris, France

Stéphanie Lacombe was born 1976 in Figeac, France. She graduated from L’Ecole Nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs (ENSAD). Her photography work is exhibited in France, Argentina,  Finland and Hong Kong, and has been published in many magazines and newspapers ( la Revue XXI, Le Monde and L’Obs).
She shares her experience as a woman photographer in many workshops organised by private and public institutions: la Fondation Cartier, les Ateliers du Carrousel, le Pôle Photographique Diaphane.

She received the Niepce Prize (2009), she is the recipient of the  Fondation Lagardère Award ( 2006), she also received Le Grand prix de la Photographie Documentaire et Sociale de Sarcelles (2008). In 2001, Sebastiao Salgado presented her with The Agfa Special Prize.

Stéphanie Lacombe lives and works in Paris.