This Monday, November 28, Margaux Benn was awarded the Albert-Londres prize and this will not surprise anyone.
There are natural things.
Some were born to be cooks, pilots, or to garden while watching the trains go by.
Margaux is on earth to be a great reporter.
The multilingual and brilliant young woman could easily have carved out a calm and comfortable destiny for herself as a senior international civil servant, but she chose a daily life of storm and dust.
No doubt she herself does not really know why.
It is so, that is all.
In another era, when the daughter of Albert Londres created this distinction in 1933 on behalf of her father who had just passed away, Margaux would not have had a chance.
A woman, the antithesis of the image of the globe-trotting journalist.
Margaux doesn't wear fatigues, doesn't have a heavy voice and never recounts her feats of arms.
“She has the air of a perpetual sweet and almost naive little girl.
She actually isn't at all.
She is extremely determined
,” says Véronique de Viguerie, a photographer who worked with her in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Read the fileWar in Ukraine: find the reports of Le Figaro
It is her papers, always sensitive and chiseled on this conflict, that earned Margaux Benn the winner of the 84th Albert-Londres prize.
From the very first days, she plunged into besieged kyiv without really worrying about the risks, even though everyone imagined the city being very quickly overwhelmed by Putin's bombs.
The capital hardly saved, it will follow the hell where it is, in Kharkiv or Zaporiijjia.
She is going to tell, from this sure and alert pen, the daily life of citizens suddenly overtaken by such an anachronistic war in the heart of this Europe of the 21st century, the courage of ordinary men who suddenly turn into soldiers to defend their country.
“What struck me the most: the incredible spirit of resistance and solidarity of the Ukrainians, both in terms of its strength and its organization and efficiency.
And all this, often, with a mixture of determination, humor, intelligence and bravado
Read alsoWho are the winners of the Albert-Londres Prize since 1933
Of the risks taken to
this collapse into violence, she says nothing.
"She's not afraid of much, except not being there when needed
," says her friend Alison Sargent.
The two women met ten years ago on the benches of the Sciences-Po journalism school.
Besides, Margaux is already dreaming of returning to the road she already knows well.
Although she was born in the Landes in 1988, she first grew up in Ottawa, Canada, her father's country.
She only returned to France and Toulouse at the age of 11, for her adolescence.
This dual culture naturally led her to study first in Scotland, at the University of Saint Andrews, then at Sciences-Po.
Between the two, she found a year to land in Khartoum in order to have her first experience in journalism.
She will quickly leave for Africa, in the Central African Republic, a country then torn apart by the violence of the militias.
Pure hatred does not faze him.
She describes it with distance and humanity for AFP, on video, and in writing in English for the New York Times.
She also does radio.
"She belongs to this generation that knows how to do everything, multitasks with talent"
, appreciates Véronique de la Viguerie.
Margaux, inevitably, is noticed.
It will be AFP which offers him, at the Nicosia office, a permanent contract as a videographer.
Many would have seen the holy grail there.
But she feels this stability like a professional coffin.
“By not writing, I had lost all self-confidence.
It remains to choose the destination.
She hesitates between the "known lands" of Africa and the open sea.
It will be Afghanistan.
“I saw him arrive at our shared apartment in Kabul and I immediately understood that behind his shy appearance, there was a strong being
,” recalls Solène Chalvon Fioriti, then a journalist at
Margaux she contacts
"The first to me
“Margaux intended to settle in a simple apartment in an Afghan neighborhood and live discreetly wearing a burqa when she went out. We weren't totally reassured but decided to take part in his adventure, without knowing what to expect
“Margaux intended to settle in a simple apartment in an Afghan neighborhood and live discreetly wearing a burqa when she went out.
We weren't totally reassured but decided to take part in his adventure, without knowing what to expect
,” explains Patrick Saint-Paul, editor-in-chief of the daily's international service.
He won't regret it.
Very quickly, the talent of Margaux impose itself as evidence.
She has immense humanity.
She is really interested in people and never allows herself to be locked up in the darkness of things, even in extreme violence”
, admires her friend Solène.
It is this humanity that this Albert-Londres prize, the 84th of the name, salutes today.
Margaux Benn is thus part of the long history of
, becoming the 17th of its journalists to receive this prize - more than any other.
“Margaux masters all the media of our time and at the same time represents the tradition of
, never resisting the call of the field, and the desire to be a privileged witness to History.
The taste for reporting is anchored in his guts.
This is why we are proud that she has chosen to put down her suitcases in the international service of Le Figaro, bringing the essential renewal guaranteeing our future”
, insists Patrick Saint-Paul.