The Cherry On The Cathedral


I am a Breton, but my Mother’s family is from Picardy. Way up North. This area’s Capital town is Amiens (Pronounce Amyuuuuun – very nasally – yes I know you can’t do that. Too bad). Amiens’ gothic Cathedral is one of the world’s most beautiful. It was completed in the thirteenth century. But this is not what’s most astonishing about this Cathedral. OK, it’s one of the tallest, but this is still not what makes it stand out. 



What really makes it special is that at the end of 1918, roughly a century ago, there wasn’t much of anything left standing for hundreds and hundreds of yards around the Cathedral.

And when the mayhem started again from 1940 till 1944, more destruction took place. But the Cathedral is still standing. And Lord is it beautiful. A lot better than Paris’ Notre Dame, but that’s me being partial of course (it’s way taller and bigger than Notre Dame). 

You can catch a glimpse of the result on the right-hand side (photo courtesy of a French blogger).

Knowing it’s still there after what happened, is a bit of a cherry on the cake in itself. 

In fact we nearly had no cake on which to put the cherry on, but we are grateful for those artillery men who were able to aim properly. 

Whoever they are.

When we last went there in Summer 2012, four years ago, we went to see the sound and light show. I had heard about it but never seen it. With special lights and projectors, the organisers are able to bring back all the colours that used to exist in the early days of the Cathedral. It’s hard to take pictures and realise how nice it is so you will have to buy a ticket and get there to find out. 


That was my cherry on top. The Cathedral is enough of a treat from an architectural and photographical viewpoint as it is. Knowing that we may have never seen it is even more of a treat. Having the colours on top really was the cherry on the cake. 


And cherries on cakes, for a gluten intolerant person like me don’t come very often for cakes, however good they may be, are just an old and fuzzy memory. At least, I can always have the cherry. Thanks to the nice people from the Daily Photo Challenge for their weekly suggestion.

1970s Beaugrenelle in Black and White


Beaugrenelle is this district in Paris South of the Eiffel Tower which was meant to be built like a mini Manhattan at a time when modernity was on the agenda. The result isn’t really there and the buildings are dreary and uninteresting for the most part. This one though is an exception. At least from a photography point of view. Here are a few shots in Black and White




Theatrical Moment in Chamarande (B&W)

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I shot this picture a few weeks back on a Sunday afternoon in the park of the 17th Century Château de Chamarande. Not that I found the play to my liking. It was one of those depressing jobs for highbrows except the listeners weren’t particularly intellectual so we felt for them (and the players too). To an extent this theatrical moment in Chamarande is a bit like all of us here this side of the water after the events of the past 5 days and those of the months before. Depressed for one, and sort of suspended in the air, expecting I don’t know what. Well, maybe we aren’t expecting anything in particular anymore. Besides, that’s probably the wise thing to do. To keep going, unabated, regardless of what happened and could happen. Blindfolded.

Click here to enlarge the picture

The Devil is in there


The devil, and the lizard, is in the details as the saying goes. I caught that one above amongst the rocks outside Port Royal des Champs Abbey in the South West of Paris a few years back. One really has to focus to catch a glimpse of the ’beast’.

Chamarande - Richard Orlinksi

More recently, last weekend in fact, I took this picture of Richard Orlinski’s red croc outside the Chateau de Chamarande. The play between the two complementary colours (red and green) is obviously accentuated in this shot.

Trees in Chamarande

A few minutes later we were having a nap below a tree in the park and I looked up and saw that beautiful old tree and took a shot with my 35mm fixed lens. You can see all the details in the treetops.


This close up is that of a tractor’s wheel in the Alps, shot barely a month ago.

Look up


I did a fair bit of looking up when we last went to visit the French Riviera in May. Above our heads were palm trees as in Cannes.


In Antibes, quaint little windows were placed high above and looked nice and flowery.


In Antibes again, electric wires looked like music scores above our heads. A sight rarely seen now that cables are laid underground.


At last on the beach in Antibes, Jaume Pensa’s “nomad” was placed up above and looked like a Big Friendly Giant. As you may have guessed, today’s photo challenge was “look up

Duck fishing game (and musings about tilt shifts)


A duck fishing game in Cannes. All colours bleached by the Sun on the French Riviera  although it wasn’t that sunny when we were there last May just before the festival.

[July 8 addendum]

Meanwhile I discovered the Tilt Shift craze with software like Tiltshiftmaker which make it possible for you to turn any photo into a tilt shift. I used to know the effect as the “miniature” filter directly applied on my Nikon cameras. I applied the filter on the duck game scene and here is the result:


Tilt shifts are flavour of the month but as all fads they shouldn’t be abused (the above picture showing the limit of this exercise). Tilt shifts are more effective with landscape pictures and mostly pictures taken from above as in this shot taken from the top platform of a lighthouse in Normandy. In this instance, the picture was tilt shifted directly on the camera.