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Les photographies de l’année

Okay - not going to win any prizes, but I like it!

Okay - not going to win any prizes, but I like it!


More than fifty of the best professional photographers from across France will be gathered in Alençon at the end of March for the finals of the *APPPF “photograph of the year” competition.

*Agence Pour la Promotion de la Photographie Professionnelle

Prizes will be awarded in eighteen categories of photograph, plus an overall trophy for “photograph of the year” and a special “open” category for young photographers with less than two years of work as a professional.  The overall winner receives 10 000 euros of photographic equipment from Nikon.

The awards will be presented on 28 March 2009, at the Halle aux Toiles in the centre of Alençon, at a ceremony involving the 54 finalists (three per category, chosen from a total of 170 entries) and attended by some of the leading lights of photography in France and Europe.

Categories range from portrait to sports photography, via travel, nude, news reporting and nature, plus the best in culinary, animal, entertainment and advertising photography.

The winning photographs will be judged by a panel of twenty photographers, art directors, journalists, graphic designers, and other professionals in the field.

In addition to this evening, the winning photographs will go on an exhibition tour around France and to other festivals in Europe. In addition, a book showing the 18 winning photos and the other finalists will be published.

This event coincides with the start of a month-long photographic exhibition taking place from the 28th March to the 26th April 2009 http://www.festival-photo-orne.com/ This exhibition will be housed in the buildings of the Conseil Général

alencon_photo

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Chocolat Glatigny

Chocolat Glatigny

I’ve already mentioned the “Visites Chocolat” that take place on Sundays at the nearby Château de Carrouges, but there is a much older and widespread chocolate-making tradition in Normandy.

Le Petit Negre

Le Petit Negre

In Alençon there are several excellent chocolate makers, the most scrumptious of  which (in our opinion, at least) are “Pedro” and “Chocolats Glatigny”.    The chocolate shops are concentrated in Grande Rue and the adjoining Rue St Blaise.

The Chocolatier Pedro is one of those in Grande Rue, next to the Place de Madeleine and the fabulous Notre Dame church (of which more another time).  Perched on the wall near the shop is a tiny statue which is known as “Le Petit Negre”.  The origins of the curious statue are unknown, but he seems appropriate next to a chocolate shop.  The chocolate shop also has a tearoom where you can sample the chocolates and cakes made on the premises.

Both Pedro and Glatigny are “artisanale” chocolate makers – scrummy but rather expensive.  But as an occasional treat, they are irresistible.

Both do occasional demonstrations of chocolate maker’s art, but their workshops are not open on a regular basis.  However, a little further away at Bayeux (a town well worth a day trip if you’re staying near Alençon) there is the “Drakkar” chocolate factory, which is open to the public.  You can also buy their chocolates on line at chocolat drakkar bayeux .   “Drakkar” means longboat, a common symbol in Normandy, harking back to when it was settled by the Vikings, the Norsemen from whom the region takes its name.

Chocolate shops in Alençon:

Au Carré Croquant, 113, Grande Rue 61000 – Alençon

Au Péché Mignon, 57, Rue Saint Blaise 61000 – Alençon

Chocolats Glatigny, 44, Grande Rue 61000 – Alençon

Pedro, 39, Grande Rue 61000 – Alençon

Aux Friandises d’Alençon, 27, Grande Rue 61000 – Alençon

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Halle au Blé, Alençon

Halle au Blé, Alençon

The outdoor Christmas Market in the Place de la Magdeleine may be over (13th to 15th December) but a number of other special events have been organised to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

  • the Xmas lights will illuminate the town centre and the old St Léonard quarter every day from 4.30pm to 9.30pm until the 4th January
  • there will be a synthetic skating rink installed in the Halle au Blé – a new feature this year, open every afternoon from 2.00pm to 7.00pm – from 20th December until 4th January.  Best of all, entry and loan of skates are free!
  • Saturday 20th December the troupe “Mon Cirque à Moi” and a jazz band will be touring the shops in the town centre to entertain shoppers
  • Sunday 21st December in the Place de la Magdeleine pony rides and sleigh rides with Father Christmas
  • Sundays 14th and 21st December shops will be open
  • Saturday 20th December 5.00pm Christmas Choirs in the Eglise de Montsort
  • Friday 19th December 8.30pm Handel’s Messiah performed by the Ensemble de Basse Normandie and Musiciens de Paradis in the Eglise de Montsort – tickets from the Tourist Office
  • Sunday 21st December at 3.00pm English Christmas Carol concert at the church of La Lacelle

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Alençon

At the southern end of the Normandy-Maine regional park, on the border of Normandy and the Pays de la Loire, Alençon is a town that we had passed by many times on holiday.  The day finally came when we took the time to turn off the national road from Rouen to Le Mans (this was in the days before the A28 was built) and visit the town centre.

With its picturesque old quarter, the magnificent church of Notre Dame, its markets, shops, parks, gardens and lace museum, Alençon was a revelation.  The view of the town from the national road had given no hint of the medieval architecture and small, winding back streets that we discovered.

Alençon is now our adopted “home town”.  Market days (the market is in the town centre next to the Notre Dame church and in the car park behind the Tourist Office)  are on Thursday and Saturday.  It’s two “chocolatiers artisanales”, the Maison Glatigny (pictured) and Pédro, are open all year round from Tuesday to Saturday.

In winter there are two skating rinks in Alençon; the main rink on the N12 Brittany road (next to the Parc Elan near Carrefour) is open from October to May and costs 5.50€ for adults including skate hire; but the town also installs a free rink in the glass-roofed Halle au Blé in the town centre – entry and skate hire are free.

A lot of people visit Alençon in the expectation that the famous “Alençon lace” will be on sale in the shops – it isn’t.  Nowadays, production is limited to the output from a small workshop next to the Musée des Beaux Arts, set up to preserve the tradition.  The only sales outlet is the reception desk of the museum which also houses a permanent exhibition of lace and lacemaking.  Be warned – the lace is breathtaking not only in its delicacy but also in its price!

Our bed and breakfast is just 10 minutes from Alençon centre.

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La Basse Cour : Bed & Breakfast on the Normandy-Loire Country Border

La Basse Cour

La Basse Cour

If you are looking for B&B or hotel accommodation while you explore all the sights and gardens in Normandy and the Pays de Loire, look no further – come and stay at La Basse Cour!

At “La Basse Cour”, our “chambres d’hôtes” on the border of Normandy and Pays de Loire, we offer top-quality bed and breakfast accommodation at prices that take some beating. Our unique combination of a beautiful 18th-century stone-and-timber house, immaculate rooms, acres of fabulous gardens, wildlife lake, hospitality and local knowledge mean we get rave reviews on a certain well-known travel review site.

Being located near Alençon and having visited all the places mentioned on our blog, we are perfectly placed to help you discover in this fascinating region, packed with places to see and activities for all ages and tastes.

Visit our website to find out more about us:

La Basse Cour : Bed & Breakfast on the Normandy-Loire Country Border

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