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Paris 2015
Tour Report

Beauvais Cathedral

We have just returned from four demanding but enjoyable days in Paris. The first demand was on our patience as we were delayed for four hours at Dover. We soon forgot about that however, and the next day, after a tour of Paris, we set off on the short drive to Beauvais Cathedral. We had a very good audience and, as our director Will said, there was plenty of space into which to project our singing, and to enjoy the echo which took its leisurely time. The audience certainly enjoyed it and after the concert we walked a few yards to a restaurant for a group meal followed by a very colourful son et lumière on the walls of the Cathedral. The next morning we were at leisure and some of us turned up at the Pompidou centre only to find that it did not open until eleven and we had to be on the Ile Saint-Louis, the island next to Notre Dame, for a rehearsal at 1pm followed by a concert at 3pm. The St Louis church is very unprepossessing on the outside but of rather splendid Baroque on the inside. The acoustic was more manageable, and again we had an appreciative audience. In the evening we had another group meal and then went off in the coach through crowded Paris traffic for our Seine cruise. It seemed all the world was there and the bateaux Parisiens followed each other down the Seine one behind the other. It was mass tourism at its glorious best but an experience not to be missed.

On the Sunday morning, our guide Mary Henderson, who had lived in Paris, walked us through some of its byways; the Place des Vosges and the Jardin des Plantes being the highlights. We set out in the afternoon to Chartres, taking a longer route through Versailles in order to avoid the lock down caused by the finale of the Tour de France. Chartres Cathedral is in the middle of an eight year clean-up project with about one third completed. The newly cleaned walls and columns contrast with the dirty, as yet untouched, stone and a large part of the building is shrouded in sheets of opaque plastic. Behind those sheets lurked the giant organ, and our unseen organist, Nick, therefore accompanied the choir via CCTV, the camera focussing only at one point where our conductor stood, and which involved the choir moving masses of chairs from one part of the building to the other. Nevertheless, it was all so worthwhile. We had, even at 9pm, an audience of about four hundred people and we gave of our very best, choir and director in symbiotic empathy, and the audience loved it. At the end we went outside to see the most wonderful son et lumière with little imps somersaulting round the windows while angels smiled their benevolent greetings at us -- what a show!

Finally, early next morning, we set off through the Paris traffic, were as usual delayed at Calais, and had to drive through central London because an accident had blocked the motorway. We arrived home at Bath in the rain but with a warm glow inside, looking forward to our beds and satisfied that our trip had been a great success.

Click here for a selection of our photos.

Peter Martin, Hon. Secretary, August 2015

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