Friday 11 July 2014

Montreuil is a pleasant if somewhat rundown town with, to me, a hidden history. OK I knew that Montreuil had been the headquarters of the British Army in France during the Great War. General Haig stayed in a chateau near the town. It is said in some histories of the war that he never visited the front!

One of the things I did not know was that the town inspired Victor Hugo to use it as the setting for his famous novel about the turbulent years of the 1830 revolution which of course gave us Les Misérables the musical. In the holiday season you can see an outdoor spectacle based on the novel, and tours of places in the town connected with the story, but of course June ain’t the holiday season.

The half-timbered hotel was built after 1567 when the Spanish sacked the town, which at that time was a wealthy port. All the land to the left in the shot of the walls was at one time sea.

The church is fairly plain for a RC church in this area. In over 65 years of making images I’ve never seen the effect in the shot of the alter with the two blue circles which must have been formed by the windows.

There are few people pictures for two reasons. As you can see in most shots we have deserted streets and therefore no people. Also the French privacy laws are quite stringent. While you have few problems in a city in rural France it’s a different story. The people lunching outside the cathedral had no idea I’d taken this shot, the X100 is no were as obvious and threatening as a DSLR, but if they were French and had spotted me they could have objected with the law on their side; however I’m pretty sure they were Brits.

Tony Middleton

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