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.

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