Saturday, 22 October 2016

The inventor of photography – part 2 and last

Because they are accessible free of charge we decided, on a day more suitable for a museum visit than for a day lazing in the sun, to visit the two museums in Chalon-sur-Saône.

Statue of Nicéphore Niépce - Chalon-sur-Saône
We planned to see the Musée Vivant Denon first, and to do the Musée Nicéphore Niépce, like the one in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes (see the previous blog) dedicated to the inventor of photography, afterwards.

Musée Niépce : the permant collection
We had seen both museums before; Denon for the first time in 2013, Niépce in 2011. Both had undergone some changes, and for the better.
Denon, a local museum with an archaeology and a fine arts department, had a small but interesting temporary exhibition of treasures from the Near- and Middle-East, and had extended its permanent collection with antique furniture from Senncey-le-Grand.

Musée Niépce : space for temporary exhibitions
Niépce had also been renovated or re-organised in the past years. It boasts a far more interesting collection about Niépce (and Daguerre) than Saint-Loup, including a display of antique cameras and objectives, and has ample space for temporary photo exhibitions. When we visited, there were two exhibitions running simultaneously: one with black-and-white pictures of Léon Herschtritt (La fin d'une monde) and one slightly less interesting (to my taste) of contemporary photographs in colour (L'oeil de l'expert).

Musée Niépce : space for temporary exhibitions
Two museums with the same theme: that cries out for a comparison.

The Maison de Nicéphore Niépce in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes has, as the place where the first photograph was taken, mainly historical value. It pays some attention to other inventions of Niépce, but the collection (mainly replica of inventions and re-arranged rooms) is not very impressive. The 6 € entrance fee could be better used drinking something on a sunny terrace elsewhere, to my humble opinion. I will leave the welcome and the opening times out of the equation to give the museum at least some credit. On a scale of 1 to 10: a meagre 4.

The most interesting display in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes

The Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon-sur-Saône has a reasonable collection, and on top of that often interesting temporary exhibitions. Besides there is no entrance fee, and once one has seen the museum there are plenty of other things to see within walking distance (cathedral Saint-Vincent, Musée Vivant Denon, mediaeval houses, markets), and the old town boasts a number of terraces which invite one to sit down and watch the world go by. On a scale of 1 to 10: a good 8.

Musée Niépce : part of the permanent collection
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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Citizenship course

We have cracked many a joke about what one has to do to obtain a foreign passport. Each country has different demands in order to accept foreigners as one of their own.

It's a gas, gas, gas!
For example, to be able to pass as a Frenchman one has to adhere to a number of house rules; below is just a very small random choice.
Never walk anywhere, take your car, even between two shops which are bordering each other. Avoid leaving your car; chatting to another motorized friend can be done through the car windows, hence blocking the road for at least 20 minutes. However, if for an emergency one has to leave the car, make sure not to switch off the motor. That is the only accepted way to maintain the greenhouse effect.

Ah, what is 15 muntes among friends....
Never be on time. It is frowned upon when one arrives on time, let alone when one arrives a trifle early. Even when concerts are supposed to start at 20h00, do not appear before 20h15. That is the best way to annoy those who came "only" 5 minutes late.
As I said, this is a very small selection.
For a Dutch passport there are of course different rules.

It can be done this way...
I remember very clearly an English lady who had major problems jumping on the luggage carrier of a bicycle in motion. Most of the time the cyclist was thrown off the bike because of the sideways impact the passenger exerted. After weeks of practice and a partner with bruised ribs the lady was ready to apply for a Dutch passport.
Mounting a bike where the passenger already had taken place on the luggage carrier requires yet another skill, as attached picture shows…

Or this way!
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Saturday, 8 October 2016

The inventor of photography - part 1 of 2

Chalon-sur-Saône, the place where he was born and lived and Sint-Loup-de-Varennes, where he lived, worked and died are both proud of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a man with an exotic name, inventor of among others "photography".

The last statement is open to interpretation, but fact is that he produced the very first photographic picture (exposure time over 8 hours) in 1822.
Chalon has its Niépce museum, as has Saint-Loup-de-Varennes (a stone throw from Chalon): the house "Le Gras" where he took the first photographic picture ever.

Point de vue du Gras
The museum in Saint-Loup is open all day (except Tuesdays) from 10h00 to 18h00, at least so the website says. Not closed for lunch? That is a novelty, and as such "Unique en France"!
We arrived there at approx. 13h45, found all doors locked and a sign "Next guided tour at 14h00". At 14h15 we decided to do some shopping nearby and give it another last try when we were passing by again after our shopping expedition.

Another invention of Niépce
But alas, all doors were still locked. However, the sign had been removed as well. This time we spotted a young woman nearby, whom we actually had seen earlier, but further away. She was the tour guide, and she must have thought that we were some local burglars, not worth addressing because they were only guilty of almost kicking in the locked doors.

THE window
The next tour was at 15h00, but when we told her that we had already waited half an hour for the previous tour, and that we would not really be amused if we had to wait another 30 minutes, she gave in and started the guided tour at 14h30. The shed, which we thought was "the house", turned out to be the reception area and museum shop, and the big house nearby, where we had seen the woman in red earlier turned out to be the scene of Niépce's crime.

The museum hosts some models of Niépce's other inventions, some pots with chemicals from his original lab in Chalon, a replica of his study and workshop and of course the window from which the first photographic picture was taken. The building has obviously historical value, but one can question whether the entrance fee of € 6.00 pp is not a bit steep for the things on show.

The shield at the door
The Niépce Museum in Chalon is at least free of charge!
For our own website click here.