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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chartres Fête de la Lumière

I returned to Paris from Italy to find that my normal interim hangout at Passage d'Enfer is not really habitable right now due to a plumbing problem. What to do? Where to stay for a couple of weeks until I can move into my new apartment on October 1st? I don't have a solution yet, but my first impulse was to take a short trip to the countryside. It was Friday, and I knew the Chartres labyrinth is only open on Fridays. Why not go back there for the weekend?

I didn't realize that this was one of the busiest weekends of the year, the grand finale of the Festival of Light, and most places in town had been booked months in advance. I lucked out, however, and managed to find a place to stay.

I've taken pictures of the cathedral before, but it never occurred to me to take a ferris wheel ride

to get an even better vantage point:

Here's the south facade of the cathedral during the day. Remember this image - you'll see it again later.

After darkness fell, I wandered through town taking photos of some of the 28 illuminated sites. Imagine my surprise when this nondescript building:

was transformed into this after dark:

or the mediatheque (public library) which looks like this during the day:

was repainted in several different motifs, all accompanied by music:

Later, I heard applause coming from near the cathedral. I saw a spotlight illuminating the rose window in the south facade:

It wasn't until I drew nearer that I could discern an ethereal aerial dancer walking up the face of the rose window and then plunging into space as she wove a web of magic in the spotlight.

It took my breath away.

And that was just Friday. There were different events on Saturday night, but the image of the celestial dancer on the cathedral was the most stunning of all.


  1. Amazing! I know she has to be horizontal, and the camera angle makes her look nearly vertical. But the eye insists she's upright, and won't relent. Whoever said we can control our minds?

  2. She was horizontal AND vertical! A live dancer flying like Peter Pan - twirling and plunging, suspended on invisible wires from the cathedral structure. Absolutely stunning. These photos were the best I could do with my small hand-held camera with limited telephoto capability.

  3. So beautiful, Elaine! Also this is my first chance to see what you've put on the blog about her trip - well done!
    Anne is getting the USB tomorrow as we continue to plan this month's Moonscapes. Happens this weekend! Wish us luck. We will be demoing the groupsite as well.