Chaalis Abbeys And Primaticcio

When you next decide to go to Chaalis, in the North of Paris, you will be granted three Abbeys for the price of one. One twelfth century job (in not such a good state), a 13th century chapel with a superb Francesco Primaticcio mural and an 18th Abbey which was the home of Mrs Jacquemard-André. Definitely worth the trip. From the Abbey you’ll find a footpath that goes into the woods and will lead you to places ridden with memories of great poets and philosophers (Nerval, Jean-Jacques Rousseau etc.)

From top to bottom and left to right: the 13th century chapel and its amazing stone gargoyles, the romantic bridge on the JJ Rousseau footpath, a panorama shot of the Primaticcio mural (restored a few years ago), a panorama shot of the 12th century Abbey, the 18th century abbey from the gates of the rose garden, and finally, the 12th century Abbey is a perfect spot for a Boy Scout picnic. All pictures are clickable. The map to Chaalis Abbey is shown per below.

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




A Good Day In The Country

Back from hols, and back in the saddle for more photo challenges. Catching up with the latest photo challenge entitled “today was a good day” I was slightly puzzled by the grammar but nonetheless will resolutely tell a story in the past tense, even though it’s a recent past.


A Frenchman’s house – pretty much like an Englishman’s – is his castle. What’s more when the house is a castle. We were invited to a party for the 60th birthday of a friend of ours. The family chateau is located in Persac, near Poitiers, an area I didn’t know very well. We took a train to get there and fortunately no gunman entered our carriage. It all happened in May 2015.


The chateau commands a nice view over the village of Persac in the Vienne (half-way between Poitiers and Limoges). 


Its stone staircases are old and worn.


A view of the village from a window in the keep.


The area is green and romantic. Not much pollution around there.


A view of Saint Savin sur Gartempe and the Abbey, in the vicinity of Persac. The Abbey has some of the oldest wall paintings from the middle ages. 


The Abbey. A mixture of Romanesque Art and many other styles including 18th century in the main building on the right-hand side.


And its wall (roof rather) paintings. 


An HDR view of the old gothic bridge produces a landscape reminiscent of Constable. Very little has changed since the 18th century in that area.


A closer look at the gothic bridge, its reflection mirrored in the Gartempe.


Small roads abound, in a area which seems to be unspoiled by modern life and its unstoppable desire to turn anything green into grey.


A good day was topped by a open day buffet with friends from all areas, some coming as far as Hamburg in Germany.


The party was thriving until late in the Night.


The party at the foot of the castle.


That was a very good day and the weather was really on our side. I hope this will convince you that you should visit the area of Persac and its little medieval castle, even though your motivation for taking a train to get there might be slightly hampered by Friday’s events.

Palais Royal

Palais Royal used to be called Palais Cardinal because it was Cardinal de Richelieu’s Palace. It is now famous for the Buren Columns which were installed in 1986. At first, there was an public outcry against this work of Art which was deemed sacrilegious. Eventually, it became so successful that most people go to Palais Royal now to see the columns and not the Palais Royal itself. It’s not only ironic I believe, it is very symptomatic of how people react to change. Anything new is considered a no-no and then people get used to it and even grow to like it. For a detailed report on Buren’s columns including, check the Angloinfo report following this link.

Pictures of the Palais Royal, December 2012

Cloud computing data center shots

A series of pictures taken from Orange Cloud for Business’ Normandy data center. As Orange is my client all the pictures are watermarked with their French hosting Website. Plenty of opportunities for great pictures in such a building. All shots taken in manual mode with my lightweight Nikon D7000 and my favourite 1962 Nikkor 35mm f:2.8 fixed lens.













The Louis Vuitton foundation by Frank Gehry


Visiting the Louis Vuitton foundation on Nov 16, we really enjoyed our trip. The exhibitions aren’t really there so we’ll have to come back to it later but honestly, the main attraction is Frank Gehry’s building. A real beauty, in the middle of the fantastic ‘jardin d’acclimatation’ an 1860 zoological garden turned into a funfair and city centre farmhouse with sheep and cows and all the trappings. All those views were shot with my vintage 35 mm fixed 1961 Nikkor lens in manual mode.



The mist made the building even more interesting.


Lines and curves from above.


A stone’s throw from the Defense business centre


The modern cascade is also very scenic

The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris

The lifts are pretty useless and undersized but the staircase is beautiful and broad.


The entrance



The Bois de Boulogne from the top


Ah Yes! We are well and truly in Paris.

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