Showing posts from June, 2013

Etretat - an Iconic Seascape

I have wanted to visit Etretat ever since I saw a seascape by Monet at an exhibition in Cambridge around four years ago. The town, with its arched white cliffs has been painted by many of the Impressionists and Monet repeatedly depicted it in different weathers and moods. We were there in April, and I am sure that in the holiday season it gets even more busy. Even so there was a snake of people heading up the cliff footpaths.
We were in Etretat for two days. I was lucky with the weather which was mainly dry and sunny but at times clouded over to add a bit of drama.

I tried photographing the arch using long shutter speeds and also fitting the Lensbaby lens to try and achieve that impressionist look.

The Lensbaby seems to work better with the following of the path back down to town.

Then back on the seashore and in the town itself.

The Harbour of Fécamp and Soft Light at Yport

Travelling along the coast of France due west towards Le Havre you come across the lively port of Fécamp.
Looking towards the west you can see a shingle beach, backed by the white chalk cliffs. Again there is that wonderful soft light typical of this shoreline.

East is the town of Fécamp, with it's lighthouse and hundreds of bobbing boats. Here are some Lensbaby shots of the views from the wooden piers

Our journey was taking us to Étretat, a haunt of many painters including Monet. We stopped for some lunch in Yport, a little town depicted by Renoir and Corot, amongst others. There was a row of distinctive beach huts.

And the white cliffs appeared opalescent. Here you can really see the source of inspiration to those painters.

White Cliffs of Ault

Further west along the coast from the Somme estuary lies the seaside town of Ault. The beach here has fantastic white cliffs and a wave cut platform of chalk.

While we were in the car park I saw this man in the garage of his mobile home. I particularly liked the slippers.

Moving on down towards Dieppe we came into the town of Le Treport as the afternoon was getting on and the wind was up. The light was beautiful and the gulls were wheeling in the wind.

Inland the windmills had been stopped, presumably to stop them flying away!

The next morning things had quietened down, but the light was still wonderful, a source of inspiration to the Impressionists.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Yesterday evening we attended a private viewing of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, courtesy of A T Kearney. My attitude towards the exhibition was somewhat marred by reading Brian Sewell's article on it in the Standard, which was scathing to say the least,
 I did however concur with the darling man, as there was very little in the exhibition that moved me in any way.
There was quite a lot of photography on show and I thought that this  had more to say than the painting and sculpture which was, by in large, rather tired and dated. Well perhaps I am prejudiced.

Here are three photographs of the exterior of Burlington House preceded by two from Piccadilly Arcade.

La Manche - the Somme Estuary and a Chinese Cemetery

Travelling further south from Calais we spent a night at Le Crotoy on the Somme estuary. Here there is a vast expanse of sand as the Somme makes its way into the sea. This part of the coast was loved by the impressionists and it does have an almost pearlescent light.

We made  brief visit to Crecy where a watchtower has been built looking over the battlefield.

In Noyelles-sur-Mer we stumbled upon a Chinese cemetery. Around 140,000 Chinese were employed on the Western Front in the first world war, not in active service but as labourers. They would work for very little money and were seen as 'coolies'. After the war most of the Chinese, identified only by a number, were sent home to China. Around 6,000 went to Paris to form the nucleus of the Chinese community there. Around 2,000 died during or just after the war. Noyelles-sur-Mer was their largest camp in this part of France and most of the 841 buried in the cemetery here died from Spanish flu in the camp hospital. The graveyard…

Destruction of Fort Hitler in Wissant

Just before I went to South America in April, Alan and I had a week in northern France. We spent the first night in Wissant, a seaside resort west of Calais for which we have some affection.
Last year we went to Wissant in September and I took pictures of a sunset over the beach which has a number of concrete bunkers built by the Nazis in the second world war. Here is one of them.

Yes, I know they are ugly and a reminder of a sad past, but I quite liked these structures. 
This year things have changed and the burghers of Wissant are intent on improving their beach with some heavy machinery. This is the same structure (I had cloned out the DANGER notice on last year's photograph). The destruction has also seemed to have accelerated the erosion of  the low cliff by the sea.

While we were in the area we visited Cap Gris Nez and here are a couple of pictures from the surrounding countryside.