31 October 2021

L'église Saint-Ouen de Rouen

According to Henry James, writing in the late 19th century:

The second church of Rouen, Saint-Ouen, the beautiful and harmonious...
offers within a higher interest than the Cathedral

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Without, it looks like an English abbey, scraped and restored, disencumbered of huddling nieghbours
and sourrounded on three sides by a beautiful garden.


Seen to this excellent advantage it is one of the noblest of churches... I can imagine
no happier combination of lightness and majesty, its proportions bring tears to the eyes.

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30 October 2021

Notre-Dame de Rouen (2)

Quoting the Michelin Green Guide:

“The cathedral of Rouen is one of the most beautiful examples of French Gothic archtecture. Construction began in the 12C but after a devastating fire in 1200 the building was reconstructed in the 13C. The cathedral took on its final appearence in the 15C... and in the 16C... In the 19C it was crowned with the present cast iron spire.”

The spire sits on top of the cathedral's "lantern" tower, which rises above the transept, nearly at the center of the building. The Wikipedia article about the cathedral in Rouen says that in the late 19C it was the tallest building in the world for a few years. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Second World War; after the war, restoration work went on for 40 years.


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Michelin: “The attraction of Rouen Cathedral lies in its infinite variety including an immense façade bristling with openwork pinnacles and framed by two totally different towers...

The tower on the right is called the "butter tower" (La Tour de Beurre) because it was rumored to have been paid for with money that people who wanted to be allowed to eat butter and drink milk during Lent paid the church for that privilege.


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Have a look at this beautiful photo of the Rouen cathedral's west front
and the two towers
that I found on Wikipédia.

29 October 2021

La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen (1)

As I've said many times before, I lived in Rouen for a school year (9 months) back in the early 1970s — Rouen is a very compact old city surrounded by sprawling suburbs. The city proper has a population of just over 100,000, but the Rouen metropolitan area is home to 500,000 people. It's only about 70 miles (110 km) from Paris so it's a short train ride.

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When I was working as an assistant d'anglais there in 1972-73, I lived in a little apartment near the train station.
It was also only a 10-minute walk to the cathedral.

I became friends with a family there and I have visited Rouen countless times over the years and I've spent many days
there wandering the streets of the old city. I can't believe it's been 10 years since I was last in Rouen, but it's a fact.

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I took these photos of the cathedral in Rouen between 2003 and 2010 with four different digital cameras.

28 October 2021

Three major Normandy monuments...

One long view, one close view of each, all enlargeable...

La Cathédrale de Coutances

Le Mont Saint-Michel

La Cathédrale de Rouen

Here in Saint-Aignan, we have some busy days coming up. The tile/masonry contractor (whose bid for major work around the house we signed last December) finally called yesterday. He said he'd come by either today or tomorrow to take some final measurements in advance of getting the work under way. Wish us luck.

27 October 2021

Canville-la-Rocque et Crosville-sur-Douve

These first four photos are some that CHM took during our second stop the day in August 1998 after spending time at the Château de Pirou. We had driven about 30 minutes north and in the afternoon went to Canville-la-Roque to see the church there, with its wall paintings. I think we had lunch between the two stops, probably in the little town called La Haye. I can't figure out what restaurant we went to there, if that's where we ate. Maybe we had lunch in Créances, or in Portbail.

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The church in Canville is dedicated to Saint-Malo and was built in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
The wall paintings in the church were plastered over until 1952,
when they were re-discovered. Read about them here.

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Our third stop was nearby at Crosville-sur-Douve to see the château there. Both Canville and Crosville
are tiny villages that have been losing population since the middle of the 19th century.

The Château de Crosville (#5 and #6) seems to have existed earlier, but the first records of its existence date back
to the late 15th century, when fortifications were built to protect it.

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The architecture is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical styles. You can read about it here.
Picture #7 is probably a house in nearby Bricquebec...

26 October 2021

Processing old photos taken with old digital cameras

Unless you have some experience with processing photos in Photoshop, this post might not mean much to you. Above is the original, more or less, of a photo that I processed, or enhanced, before posting it yesterday. The original dated back to 1998.

Here's the enhanced version of the photo that I posted yesterday. Notice that I enlarged it to fit the column width of the blog. I also boosted its contrast, color, and sharpness. I'm not an expert, and all I'm doing is trusting my own eye. And my computer display, since posted photos can look very different on different computers or tablets. I have three tablets and four Windows PCs, so I know of what I speak.

Here's an original of another photo I posted yesterday. If you tap or click on it to enlarge it, you'll see that it's smaller that the images that I post nowadays. Cameras have definitely improved.

To my eye, this photo needed less processing than the picture of the old bridge above. It was sharper, for one thing. But it still needed to be enlarged. Besides contrast, color, and sharpness, a tool I use a lot in Photoshop for photos that I've enlarged is called Noise Reduction. It smooths out the pixels in an image so that the photo doesn't look too grainy.

Above is a photo that I haven't posted before. The original is too small and needs greater contrast, I think. It looks foggy.

Here's my first attempt at enhancing it. I'm not really happy with the result, but maybe its a little better than the image came out of the late-1990s-vintage digital camera that produced it. It's too grainy. Maybe it was just too blurry to start with.

This is an image of a Norman church called l'église de Lessay, which is very near the town of Pirou. I thought I had a copy of the 1998 photo that CHM took of the church, but I can't find it if I do. I took the photo above with a Canon camera, called the Pro90 IS, that I bought in March 2002. It took much larger (higher resolution) images and it had a much longer zoom. By the way, the church at Lessay was nearly completely destroyed during World War II. It was completely re-built after the war with a lot of funding from the Rockefeller family in the U.S.

My first two cameras were Kodak models that produced much more pleasing images than the 1996 camera that CHM had. The first one was called the DC260, and the second one was the DC4800. I'll have to post some photos I took with those. I've had about a dozen cameras since 1999, and I still have five of them now. The others I passed on to friends and family members who wanted to get started taking digital photos.

25 October 2021

More Pirou pictures

It's funny. I have two Michelin Green Guides for Normandy, one in French with a copyright date of 1981, and another in English with a 1996 copyright. In the French-language guidebook, there's no entry for the château de Pirou at all — Pirou doesn't appear in the index. But it's there in the newer English-language book. Apparently the château underwent a long restoration between 1968 and 1994. I guess that was when it was opened to the public and got into the guidebooks. If you want to read about Pirou, you can do so in French here and in English here. Don't miss the story about the geese... On either Wikipedia page you can see a lot more photos of the château. Here are some more of CHM's photos from 1998.

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Here's the story about that English-language Michelin Guide. It was on one of those days in August 1998 when CHM and I were driving around seeing the sights in Normandy that we decided we needed a guidebook. We stopped in a little bookstore/newstand in some little town to buy one. The woman running the shop apologized and said she had only the English-language book; she had sold out of the French-language book. CHM and I looked at each other, then looked at her and smiled, saying we would do fine with the English book. I've still got that one.

24 October 2021

Le château de Pirou, en Normandie

The château de Pirou is about 60 kilometers north of the Mont Saint-Michel and 30 km south of the town called Barneville-Carteret. Towns of note are Avranches, Granville, Coutances, Cherbourg, and Barfleur, all along the Cotentin coast. The château was built in the 12th century, replacing an older "fort" built of wood.


CHM, our friend and former DC colleague Jeanine (who had a house in Carteret), her old friend Andrée, and I spent a day or two touring around in the area in August 1998. Pirou was one of the first places we went to see. The image above is a composite, stitched together from two separate photos.

Below are some of CHM's other photos of Pirou that he took that day. I'm in two of the pictures, and in one I'm standing between Jeanine and Andrée. These were the early days of digital photography.Enjoy.

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