les photofolies de rodez

Years ago when our working hours were silly and our house full of teenage boys’ music and rivalry and the word ‘datenight’ hadn’t entered the vocabulary i told lou we needed a night out once a month to remember who we were and why we were. Now retired it is easy to slump into a sleepy routine apart from holiday times. So i felt we needed a day out. Truth be said i was feeling the anticlimax after the road trip. in 2014 we had been to lots of photo exhibitions and enjoyed them and the towns in which they were, so when i spotted a small report in la depeche it was seized upon. Several photographers exhibiting their works in black and white, lou’s preferred option, around the town of Rodez in the Aveyron, two hours away. We picked a day which turned out to be dry, warm and sunny after one of pelting rain. Quelle chance! I had hoped the first venue would yield up a comprehensive programme with town map. But no. Luckily i had researched on line and noted the ones we would probably prefer and related addresses. None opened before one o’clock so after a drive through lovely autumn countryside we found our way to the nearest car park and searched for place Foch –
which had an underground car park, stupid viamichelin for not knowing! A nearby bar/brasserie done up like an english pub provided a surprisingly good ‘formule express’ menu.

Then the grand tour of Rodez began. The galerie Foch was a single room on the first floor of a building that housed the conservatoire of music and was displaying work by serge clement. they looked like composites but the blurb said not!
From there we wandered back into the’Centre historique’ behind the megalith that is the cathedral.
The lovely waitress in the bar had given us a map of the town as my printout from viamichelin lacked most vital street names (plus a handful of beer mats for lou)!  We passed one gallery which wasn’t open but squinting at the photos displayed near the door decided it wasn’t for us, apologies to antonin pons-braley! Then i spotted a watch shop and went in to get a battery fitted in one i had brought along on purpose. My eyes fell on a case of colourful swatch watches and the bill increased accordingly! By now we had located the tourist office and asked about a specific map for the expo. But, no, clearly, beyond producing a programme no one had thought of that. On we went to find another shop gallery still shut.
No matter, we wandered further and found the galerie saint Catherine, a beautiful space in an old building overlooking the same square as the prefecture.
The square itself was decorated with floating pink umbrellas to celebrate ‘octobre rose’, the campaign against breast cancer. in the cool and lofty gallery I loved jacques pugin’s work with light.
By now we reckoned the shop, galerieAJx, should be open and it was. And quite a treat. Photographs taken with a plate camera by a canadian. olivier meriel, and a very enthusiastic curator keen to explain the work to us. Behind the shop was an exhibition space formed by enclosing an interior courtyard with a glass ceiling.
Lou was captivated! The surrounding buildings were very old and there was a stunning 14th century stone doorway. our own cameras were working overtime, comme d’hab! 🙂

The next group of exhibitions were away from the centre and in the ‘Jardin publique’. En route we passed the Mercure hotel with a very colourful mosaic exterior, 20s? 30s? An american, mitch dobrowner’s work, was displayed on huge posters around the bandstand.
Works depicting weather so a good spot but a bit neck breaking to look at if you are short! Onwards to the cinema passing the new musee soulages on the way.
The gardens were full of children already on holiday and students newly liberated for theirs. At the cinema the heat through the full length windows was overwhelming and the photos badly displayed with half of them in full sunlight which negated their misty effect. a shame for guillaume ducreux. Over heated and needing drinks and a sitdown we swiftly left and took our break on the busy corner of place des armes. The waiter twigged our accents and wished us a good afternoon as he took our order. Such pleasant bar staff in Rodez! 🙂 ready for home we stepped into the cathedral to gaze at its enormity with an organ to match. The blurb said it formed part of the fortifications of old Rodez but i do wonder if these huge edifices have more to do with the vaunting vanity of their commissioners than with an extravagant religious fervour.
Slight confusion about in which car park our car was waiting but soon sorted and heading for home, postcards and magnet nestled against that jolly new watch!

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