Night lights at Rouen Cathedral

After our long but exhilarating day at the Normandy beaches, the Ramblers were ready for a relaxing dinner on board the Baroness. We did enjoy our dinner as usual, but Emmanuelle Bonneau, our cruise  director had lined up another “can’t miss,” excursion for the  evening. It was not in the program but the passengers of the Baroness happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was also relatively easy to add because our docking space in Rouen was just a few blocks from the heart of the city. For a change we could just walk to our destination instead of having to board a bus. This is somewhat unusual for a city the size of Rouen, with a population of half a million. Often the quays are at least a bus or tram ride away from the historic heart of the city in larger European cities.

Emmanuelle told us thatNotre Dame Cathedral had a special music and light show on its facade at dusk during the summer months.

Here is the facade of Notre Dame in Rouen at the start of the light show.
Here is the facade of Notre Dame in Rouen at the start of the light show.

Fortunately the cathedral was just a short walk from the quay where the Baroness was docked and we were in luck. The show is held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at dusk during the summer months, and it was Tuesday, and a very clear night. Admittedly the Ramblers had had a long day at Bayeux and the Normandy Beaches however this special event seemed too good to miss.

If you follow our blog, you already know which one of us was going to go and who would stay behind. The Senior Rambler felt he could indeed miss it, and decided to stay on board as his back was hurting. However, when we returned from Normandy, he got some very good news.The hotel manager on board the Baroness, Celina Sousa, had arranged an appointment for him with a Rouen oral surgeon the next day. At last his front tooth would be reattached. Because the dentist did not speak much English, a member of the hotel staff would accompany him to his appointment and translate if necessary.

One of the many photos I took. This was a difficult task as I didn't know what was coming next.
One of the many photos I took. This was a difficult task as I didn’t know what was coming next.

We were both happy about how efficiently Uniworld had arranged this for us. We only had to wait a few days because we needed to stop at a town large enough to have the right kind of dentist. Although he wasn’t in any pain, having a missing front tooth was not pleasant for the Senior Rambler. He didn’t smile much until it was repaired. LOL

The thought of seeing the beautiful facade of the cathedral lit up at  night was intriguing, and I knew the Senior Rambler would be quite happy on board.  So with much encouragement from Emmanuelle, who said I shouldn’t miss it, I decided to join a small group of gentle walkers for an evening stroll to see the light show. I was not sorry I did.

This is one of the most spectacular visual of the first part of the film. Please watch the video at the end and you will see the amazing almost 3 D of the invaders climbing up the facade of the Cathedral.
This is one of the most spectacular visual of the first part of the film. Please watch the video at the end and you will see the amazing almost 3 D of the invaders climbing up the facade of the Cathedral.

It was a truly spectacular event for several reasons. The program was beautifully done and the cathedral facade is ideally suited to a light show.

Afterwards I learned  more about the backstory of the show, but Tuesday night I only knew that it was not to be missed. When we arrived there were already a number of people waiting in front of Notre Dame.

Here the villages are being burned by the Vikings
Here the villages are being burned by the Vikings

Many were tourists; those who had brought chairs were obviously locals. It actually would have been nice to sit down and watch the lights leap upwards on the cathedral’s tall facade without fear of falling over backwards, but alas there was standing room only.

The sound and light show was divided into two parts. The first portrayed the Viking conquest of Normandy with a Norse serpent slithering up the stone facade and villages burning brightly.

The serpent...
The serpent…

This part of Normandy, so close to the sea was very attractive to the Viking sea raiders, and they happily pillaged the prosperous villages they found, Some Vikings decided to settle there, married local women and added a warrior strain to the mix of cultures in Normandy. Because it was impossible to capture the essence of the sound and light show with any kind of still camera and I don’t do video, I have added a link to a video produced by the city of Rouen.. It covers the first part of the show about the Vikings. I hope you will watch it because it is truly spectacular. Imagine yourself standing in front  of the Cathedral as a live-action tapestry unfolds before your eyes. In a way it is like a Bayeux tapestry of film.

Here is the link to the first part which features the Vikings:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdOYZHHDXIE&t=7s

The second part of the show  about Impressionism and the art of  Claude Monet, who painted this cathedral many, many times.

The facade of Notre Dame became an impressionist painting.
The facade of Notre Dame became an impressionist painting.

Rouen is not very far from Giverney and the gardens of Monet which we visited on Monday. It is not surprising that the sound and light show featured the work of Monet because he painted Notre Dame Cathedral many, many times in all kinds of weather and at different times of day and in all seasons. Again, I have added a video produced by the city of Rouen of the second half of the show which is equally spectacular in a totally different way. It is as gentle and soothing as the first was devoted to warriors and conquest.

Here is the link to the Impressionist half.

Finally, I have included a photo of one of Monet’s paintings of Notre Dame. Do you think the sound and light show captured its essence?

One of the many pictures Monet painted of Notre Dame.
One of the many pictures Monet painted of Notre Dame.

After the show we strolled back to the quay, climbed down  an interminable series of stairs to get to the river level and spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the Baroness to rest up for another action packed day along the river.

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