Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day Fourteen - Reims and Travel to Paris

This was our last day in Reims. Now that I'm writing this later in the day in Paris, I'm sorry that I didn't take a photo of my small room in Reims, because I certainly see it in my minds eye. It was sort of like an attic room, with one "wall" angled down under the roof, and a small window jutting out at chest level within a small alcove that held a small table and lamp. Looking out of the window, one could see the inner courtyard below. Besides the small bed and wash basin, there was an ancient, giant clothes cabinet that looked as if it had been made in the 17th century - rough wood, strange non-perpendicular angles at the corners, and rough metal hinges and locking mechanism. Everything was quite comfortable actually.

I again awoke before six, completely refreshed and ready for the day. Some 3o minutes later I was in the house, on the computer, uploading the blog I'd prepared the night before. Joined the Brothers for breakfast and then went off to the cathedral for Mass, while Br. Gerard and Roch and Scott did some shooting in the inner courtyard. They wouldn't need me, and I had enough pictures of them filming, so I was content to let them simply work it out for themselves.

The priest at Mass was another new face. The way he celebrated Mass was with gravitas - including singing, a homily, and long pauses between parts of the liturgy. I thought that he would have been a good candidate for bishop; or at least he was acting as if. After the Mass, I found out that he was the secretary to the Archbishop of Reims. Mystery explained. During the time I was there I reflected on the fact that in this vast, beautiful space, dedicated to the glory of God and the worship opportunities of the people of Reims, we were in a small back chapel - beautiful as it was with the Chagall stained-glass windows - occupying perhaps 2% of the space of the cathedral with about 20 people, while more visitors than that padded by quietly in the background in their tour of the place. Rather poignant and significant, I would say.

Returning to the Hotel De La Salle, the others were ready to take off, and all I had to do was jump in the van and start driving. We drove right away to the cathedral, where I'd already scoped out a good parking place close by. Since it was Saturday, the tour buses were out in force, but the local work force was at rest, so there were plenty of available parking spaces. We took all of our stuff - film equipment, tripods, lighting suitcase, etc. - and traipsed into the cathedral, walking confidently up the side aisle to the side chapel where DLS had said his first Mass and where there was a statue dedicated to him. We didn't need to show our letter of permission from the pastor, since the sacristan(s) seemed to know about us and didn't stop of from proceeding. An elderly Vietnamese sacristan (and apparently a student of the Brothers in Vietnam) came over to make sure that we had everything we needed. It would have been nice to have the lights of the cathedral turned on for our filming, but he explained that the day before there had been a flash flood because of the intense rain, and that all of the electricity in the place, beyond basic lighting, had been shorted out and wouldn't be available for a couple of days. We would have to work with what we had, not an unfamiliar situation.

Roch and Scott went to work, while I took photographs of them and of the various elements of the cathedral. In between times, I went to the gift shop outside in order to get some historical background booklets as references. In the shop, the woman behind the cash register was upset over the fact that she had no change for some customers, including me. When she rung me up, I placed all of my spare change on the counter, and she counted it dilligently. At the end, I was still shor 50 Euro cents, which I didn't have. She kept trying to figure out what to do, counting my coins over and over in the hope, it seems, that they would add up to more than what they were. Finally, I just took my money and said that I would buy it later, leaving her somewhat relieved but now having to face the person behind me who had no change to offer at all.

The filming in the small chapel went well, I think. It was also the chapel where Pope John Paul II came to pray on his visit to France. There's a famous photograph showing him kneeling at prayer at that altar, with the Founder's statue in the background; a photo taken at the direct suggestion of one of the priests of the cathedral who had been taught by the Brothers. It's the rare occurence when De La Salle shows up in an "official" public capacity.

After the side chapel, we moved to a placed right next to the high altar, where his stall as canon, number 21, would likely have been located. From there, you can gaze down the nave at the amazing stained glass windows at the far end, and Gerard talked about what it must have been like for De La Salle to pray there five times a day for over 16 years and see that vista before him each day.

Also at the location, I took the opportunity to ask him some questions, having him answer them extemporaneously - something that I think he's good at. I wasn't disappointed, and we took some fine footage of Gerard speaking about DLS's sense of Providence in his, and our, lives.

After this, we packed up and went in search of the Colleges Des Bons Enfants, the school which De La Salle attended from his early years until his MA degree. It took some driving down small streets and gazing at maps before we finally found the place, right along a busy street and solidly locked up. However, it was still a school after some 350 years, and the outside looked pretty much as it would have in the 17th century, so that was a blessing. We set up on the opposite side of the street and filmed a segment, trying to judge in between the noisy cars and trucks and motorcycles that would speed by.

Another doorway, this time associated with the Sisters founded by Nicholas Roland, who consider De La Salle as one of their co-founders, became the subject of our next quest. It was an important location because it was here that De La Salle and Adrian Nyel first encountered one another. Because of that meeting, De La Salle became involved in helping to establish those first schools and eventually became completely dedication to the education of the poor in Reims and elsewhere. The doorway was located on an especially busy street and it took quite a while to get a couple of good takes that we could edit and use later one. But by now we were used to various kinds of challenges, and an hour later we had what we needed and moved on to St. Remigius, the former Benedictine church where De La Salle would often pray through the night at the tomb of St. Remi, the one for whom the city is named.

This church is impressive for all kinds of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the building dates back to Roman times and shows signs of architectural styles spanning over a thousand years. It's a building that has a strong, quiet dignity and a very appealing, contemplative atmosphere about it. Gerard said that it was his favority building in Reims, and I can sympathize with that perspective. It's one of those buildings that you can feel very settled and comfortable within, even though it's old and made of stone and somewhat stark and a bit dark. Somehow the whole thing works well. I noticed that people uniformly were quiet and respectful within it, without being asked, unlike other churches where they would have to be reminded to respect the place where they were.

There was one place left to visit, the church of St. Maurice, located nearby and situated right next to a Jesuit school and college that dates from 1619. It was at St. Maurice that the first school was established. De La Salle determined that Fr. Dorigny, the pastor, had the disposition and interest that would guarantee that Adrian Nyel's efforts would not be interfered with by the local authorities. Br. Christian, at the Hotel De La Salle, had arranged for someone to open the church for us so that we could film the statue of De La Salle that was within it. We arrived on time, but we found the church doors closed. After about 15-20 minutes, Br. Gerard found a side door open and we found a French lady inside waiting for us. The statue we discovered at the back of the church was one that none of us had seen before, Rather uniquely, it not only showed students with De La Salle, but it also showed Fr. DOrigny kneeling in respect to him. While this is something that DLS himself would never have tolerated, the statue conveys the respect with which he was held by the clergy of Reims, especially after the work had begun.

By now it was about 2:00 PM, and we returned to the Hotel De La Salle in order to finish up our filming segments there - in the chapel - and to add on an introductory segment from the archives on the bottom floor. Finally, we had completed our scheduled filming in Reims. We settled down a bit, had lunch at a nearby cafe, and then organized ourselves for the trip back to Paris. By 4:00 PM we were on the road, having thanked the Brothers profusely for their great hospitality and welcoming spirit.

The two-hour ride back to Paris seemed quite familiar to me now, except for when we entered into Paris itself, and the GPS took us along a lengthy section of the Seine river before bringing us downtown and the Rue de Sevres. By now, I think that I was driving like a Parisian, rushing down one-lane roads, pedestrians at each side, shifting gears up and down, darting around double-parked cars, old lady's trying to cross the road, and generally behaving rather calmly at what used to get my heart and mind racing a mile a minute. Like everything else, we adapt.

Back at the ranch, we took a rest for about 90 minutes and then met up again for our evening repart, taking the Metro to the Latin Quarter. Here, the evening was just beginning, with restaurants opening, young people and old people milling about, and musicians settling into the corners they would occupy for most of the night. We walked down lots of streets, looking at various restaurants, and finally settled on a fondue place that also had "regular" menu items. Here we stayed for several hours, enjoyed a well-deserved break from our furious pace. Afterwards, we walked a bit more and then made our way to the Metro and home to Duroc station and the maison on Rue de Sevres.

Tomorrow, the idea was to have time to fill in any needed filming that we hadn't done before this. But because of our efficient use of time throughout the week, we will only have one scene to film in the morning. Then we are pretty much done with this portion of the project. Gerard wants to contact some friends and professional acquaintances in the time remaining, and it's likely that Roch, Scott and I will do some sightseeing in the city. By late afternoon, however, we will begin organizing our luggage and the van for the 4:00 AM departure the following morning for the airport. And with the Tour de France finishing tomorrow in Paris, it's likely that our choices for sightseeing will be a bit limited and filled with tourists. But, on the other hand, it's a great opportunity to experience Paris on one of the busiest days of the year. Should be fun.

(Note: Click on small pictures to enlarge them.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day Thirteen - Liesse, Laon, and Brouillet

Waking up in Reims is different than waking up in Paris. Here, there are no outside noises to speak of, even if the windows are open. It's simply a gradually increasing of the light that indicates the beginning of the day. The three rooms above the large meeting room that lies on one side of the inner courtyard were just recently redone, and I think that Roch, Scott, and myself were among the first to use them. They have worked out quite well, with Gerard living in the house itself and the rest of us out here. We're relatively independent and are able to work as much as we like, with ample space below for our equipment.

They're still bringing the internet up to speed within the building, with some connections working and others not yet, so I go to the community office to get online, swapping cables with the community computer and my own laptop. But it all works out. This morning it was the same - work on the conmputer until joining the Brothers for breakfast, after which Yves, Gerard and myself made our way to the cathedral for the 8 AM Mass. Along the way, Yves showed us the canons cloister area, and we stopped to read the historical marker that explained how the cloister was arranged, with separate shops, rooms, and even a jail. Directly next to the cathedral, the outlet led into a large side door to the cathedral that was used exclusively by the canons (On the right, in the picture). Currently, it is completely barred and no one can use it. I presume that they're waiting for the canons to return before opening it up again. Inside, that door leads directly to the choir stalls.

Mass today was said by the pastor of the cathedral parish, and he greeted us as we arrived at the small back chapel where the Mass would be. He had already written out a document giving us permission to film in the cathedral tomorrow; all done through the good graces and influence of Br. Christian, who grew up in Reims and knows the ropes quite well. Mass was as before, short and direct, with only some tourists walking through behind us as they stared at the collumns and stained glass windows.

As soon as we'd returned from Mass, we found Roch and Scott loading the van for our departure. And five minutes later we were off to Liesse. We had determined that the best route was to begin in Liesse and end in Brouillet, where we would again get the key to the small church from the owner of one of the champagne cellars nearby. The trip to Liesse was generally uneventful, driving through a number of small villages, with the roads getting less wide the closer we came to our destination.

At Liesse itself, we were all familiar with the setting, having been here before. Roch and Scott set up the scene in the side chapel dedicated to De La Salle. They fuss mightily with all the lights and the exposure and the 1001 details that are involved in setting up a shoot. Gerard patiently endures their futsing about, standing in his position for as long as it takes for them to line everything up just right. Finally, when the scene is recorded, it all goes relatively quickly. Gerard is well prepared in what he is going to saw, and we do a couple of takes because each time he will say it a bit differently or add something new. This way we will have a couple of options to choose from when we do the eventual editing of the film clips.

Having finished with Brouillet, it was on to Laon. We were especially keen to find the Rue de Freres, where the first school had been. This time, instead of parking in the general area outside of the medieval city, and then walking in, we drove right into the city and made our way through the tiny streets to just in front of the cathedral where a parking spot magically appeared for us. Then it took a while to figure out just where to go in order to find the Rue de Freres, but the tourist bureau was very helpful and made us a copy of a detailed map that would get us there. Walking from the cathedral, we went hither and yon until we came to a smallish 100 meter side street, with cars parked on one side and room for just one car to travel one-way down the street. They figured out a good perspective and we were soon set up for a short clip regarding the school in Laon and Adrien Nyel's involvement in the town.

Back at the cathedral, we debated between filming inside or outside of the place. Eventually, we found a spot in a quiet corner of the plaza that would show the great facade of the cathedral as a background. The clouds were coming and going, so it was difficult to predict a good exposure level, sending Roch and Scott into a tizzy. One minute it was overcast, the next minutes the sun was shining full blast. So several takes had to be done, and the final product will likely be a combination of scenes from various takes. We now know that whatever the final product is, it will include footage from our "B roll" archives, depending on the specific topic that Gerard brings up during his clip. For example, in front of the cathedral he spoke about the large statues of oxen that adorn the towers of the cathedral, in recognition of their work in bringing all of the rock for the building up from the valley floor. It's likely that during that segment, B roll footage of the those oxen would be shown, and it doesn't matter what the footage of Br. Gerard looks like. Such are the ways of film.

Now it was time for lunch. Instead of the tourist places lining the plaza, we walked down a ways to a walk-in sandwich shop where a lot of locals were lined up to order. Here we also ran into the lady who'd helped us at the tourist bureau. Here we ordered our sandwiches and ate them at the tables arranged just outside. We were in no rush, since we had arranged to get the church key in Brouillet t 4 PM and it was now just 1 PM.

A leisurely lunch completed, we got in the van and made our way to Brouillet, about 40 minutes or so away. Since we did have that major break period before our next appointment, I pulled over at a lake that we saw along the way and there each of us took a break - some sleeping, some walking, some reading. I took the umbrella, since it was raining, and walking along the lake to a nearby newer hotel and then returning in the bright sun. The umbrella was helpful both ways. Gerard noticed a golf course nearby and watched various golfers coming along and making their best efforts. In all, we stayed there about an hour before proceeding to Brouillet.

Another bit of driving and we came to the hamlet (?) where De La Salle's grandfather on his mother's side had a house, vineyard, and reputation as the local monseigneur. We got the key to the church from the owner of the Ariste & Son champagne cellar and proceeded to spen a good 90 minutes there filming. It took a while to get the right perspective, since we particularly wanted to show the pew where young De La Salle would sit next to his grandfather, who taught him to use the breviary during the holidays that were spent in this locale. Along with the prepared material that Br. Gerard used in the clips, I asked him a number of questions about Lasallian prayer which Gerard answered off-the-cuff and on film. A good bit of that would be very useful later on, I believe. He is better off-the-cuff than most of us would be when we were fully prepared, and the shoot was quite succesful.

Then we went back to return the key. Of course, we couldn't leave until we'd had a sample glass of champagne and a fine conversation with the daughter-in-law of the owner, who spoke English very well and would be in California soon for a champagne tasting in Redwood City. After the tasting and conversation, we bought some of the champage - which was quite excellent, by the way - and then made our way back to Reims, just 27 kilometers away.

Gerard noticed a stone plaque in the corner of the champagne cellars that mentioned De La Salle and Moet. Getting curious, he did some research online upon our return and found out that the name "Moet" had been given by Charles VII to one of those who stood and fought beside him, a Dutchman named LeClercq. When he ennobled him, LeClercq was given a new name. So half of De La Salle's ancestry is Dutch. I knew it! (Since I'm Dutch, I'm a bit prejudiced, but there you are.)

By now, most of us were ready for a short rest. While the others did that, I went into the downstairs museum of the Hotel De La Salle and set up the equipment to take several panorama photographs of the various rooms. The whole place is being renovated, and it's likely that in a year or so, all of the downstairs area will be under construction. So it was good to have the opportunity to record how it looks right now.

At around 7:45 PM, we went out for dinner at a local restaurant and a couple of hours later returned for a bit of planning for tomorrow. Then each of us began our nightly rituals - computer work, cleaning up, readying equipment for tomorrow, and so on - before retiring. These are very full days, but I believe that they will prove worthwhile.

(Note: Click on the small pictures to enlarge them.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day Twelve - Paris and Travel to Reims

An early rising again, with life outside the windows waking me up through birdsong, roadsong, and the day's beginnings.

I joined Gerard, Roch, and some other Brothers downstairs in the cafeteria for breakfast - a simple meal with Nescafe, milk, bread, butter, and some fruit. We talked about our plans for the day and generally prepared our minds for the places we would visit and film.

Afterwards, I prepared the van and we loaded it up with all of our necessary equipment. Br. Emmanuel joined us for our first visit, since he had arranged it for us and would facilitate our entrance into the Institute Catholique, from which we would walk to the gardens of the former Carmelite monastery - which is now part of that institute.

Negotiating the Parisian streets again proved to be a challenge, all the more so because the traffic coordinators down seem to have any paint for lines on the streets, except in the most extreme cases. Most of the time, you simply fit your car, or scooter, or bicycle, where it fits at each moment, jutting here and there, in and out, almost hitting someone and then roaring off. The second enjoyable activity is finding and fitting into a parking spot. This is a science in itself. Luckily, we found a spot near the monastery where I turned this way and that way in order to fit our monster van into a space made for a mini-car. And then we had to get a special parking pass at a local Tabac store for that area of town.

Reaching the Institute Catholique, we entered without any problems and made our way through the students and teachers and classrooms to the back of the property, where there was a doorway and small set of steps at which a number of Brothers had been killed during the French Revolution. It seems that they had been held there, and at one point were asked to take the oath to the State. Upon their refusal, they were guided outside, and on the steps were hacked to death, after which their bodies were thrown into a well in the middle of the garden. All very gruesome, but also quite courageous on their part. They would not compromise their faith and paid the price for it.

We filmed Gerard at that location and then walked around the garden to get further "B roll" footage to use as supplementary material. Every once in a while a student or staff member would look at us with curiosity, but largely we were left in peace.

At that point, Br. Emmanuel left us and we proceeded to the church of St. Sulpice. It took awhile to find another parking spot, and we ended up in an underground lot which lay beneath the church, I believe, or at least under the church plaza. It was very convenient, however, and allowed us to transport our equipment without much fuss.

In the plaza in front of the church, Br. Gerard filmed a segment about the massive fountains that are dedicated to four of the great orators of French history. The weather wasn't very cooperative, going from full sun to overcase every few minutes. Each time, Roch and Scott would have to reset the white balance on the video cameras, plus change other lighting elements. I would usually hold the portable reflector, angling it just so in order to light certain portions of Gerard's face during the filming. Finally, however, things worked out and we had a good "take" that we could use.

Then it was on to the church itself. We found the sacristan and received permission to film in the small chapel attached to the back of St. Sulpice - a chapel that De La Salle would have known and where he had given catechism classes to neighborhood children while he was a seminarian there. A Mass was about to said there, but we were given 15 - 20 minutes to film our segment. Roch and I had been here before so we knew the layout. Before long, the scene was set up and Gerard did a couple of takes about the chapel and De La Salle at the seminary of St. Sulpice. I tried to do a panorama shot, but it was so dark in there that I don't think it worked.

Having finished with St. Sulpice, we walked over to the Rue Princesse, where the first school in Paris had been located. There, amidst bars and small restaurants, in between an Irish pub and an English-language bookstore, is a large wooden doorway where the Brothers first lived and worked when they came to Paris from Reims. Since it was still morning, there wasn't a lot of activity on the street, but there was enough so that we had to cut our scenes short several times because of noise, or people walking by, or other factors. We didn't need to go inside - where things were way different anyway since the 1700's - but could do a good scene with the door as a background. About 45 minutes later we were done there and decided to return to Rue de Sevres for lunch and our trip to Reims.

Back at the ranch, as it were, we parked and walked to various stores in the neighborhood to pick up sandwiches or other things desired for our lunch. I even found a small specialty store that sold pickled herring of various kinds. All these things were brought to my room where we all sat here and there for a quiet lunch before our departure for Reims.

An hour after arrived back at Rue de Sevres we were on the road again. It took quite a while to get out of the city of Paris, and traffice seemed to be gridlocked at a number of places. But the thing is to just inch forward with everyone else, take up whatever space is available, and simply proceed in the direction that you needed to go. With all that confusion, it was amazing that we didn't hear a single car horn blast away. If we'd been in Rome, the noise would have deafening. But here in Paris that kind of thing just simply isn't done. About 20-25 minutes later we were on the motorway and things went smoothly from there.

In Reims itself, it was raining quite heavily. Although sun had been predicted, and I'd taken only "sun" clothes with me for the two nights we would be there, it seems that no one had informed the weather systems. Hopefully, the sun will come out tomorrow for our filming. Meanwhile, we tried to get a couple of shots at the Hotel De La Salle itself, both outside and inside. The inside filming went better than the outside filming - it started to rain again as we began. Roch and Scott made the best of it, however, and by the time dinner was ready at 7:00 PM, they had at least been able to put together a couple of takes inside the museum, in the front room that had been recreated to look the way it probably looked while De La Salle was growing up in the house.

Dinner was a fine event, with the three Brothers and ourselves enjoying both the meal and one another's company. It was done mostly in French, of course, but I found that by now I was picking up more of the conversation than I had previously. At least I picked up enough to follow the general trend of what was being said, although I'd be hard pressed to contribute anything beyond a smile and a nod. The meal was typically French, course after course after course of fairly small portions of food, complemented by wine and water and bread. The whole thing last a couple of hours, and by the end of the meal we decided that we would likely not be able to do any further filming, as planned. Instead, we would retire and start early tomorrow, when we would travel to Liesse, Laon, and Brouillet for the segments that belonged to those places.

Another full day complete and another full day ahead. Are we having fun yet?

(Note: Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day Eleven - A Long Day in Rouen

Today was the day when there was more to do than time to do it. However, we would give it our best effort, and as it turned out, what needed to be done was done. I was up at 6 and ready at 6:30 for the day that was making itself heard through the open window in my bedroom. I'd slept with both windows wide open, and nothing flew in to disturb me or made enough noise to awaken me. I rather enjoyed having the breeze come in every once in a while throughout the night and hear the nightsounds of the city of Paris.

At 7 AM, I walked down the Rue de Sevres to the nearby BNP Paribas bank ATM in order to withdraw some cash for the day (affiliated with BofA; no charges for ATM use). It's amazing how many of these ATM machines there are now - at least three per block, it seems. Thankfully, they have an "English" option on one of the first screens so that I wouldn't just have to guess at the sentences that appear. The street was as busy as it would be at noon, with cars and people going to and fro to their jobs (I would think) or the like.

Once back, I brought the van around in order to get it ready for our trip to Rouen. By 8:00 AM, we were loaded and ready, with five of us in the van (Br. Emmanuel from here in Paris joined us to facilitate our entry into St. Yon, etc.). The Paris traffic was a nightmare, of course, as we made our way across town to the motorway to Rouen - A13. The confidence of Parisian drivers is astounding, especially when it comes to the motorcycles and scooters. They must have a death wish or think they're playing an online game. More than once did I find myself saying things that I normally would not say, and all in reaction to people cutting in front, squeezing their way in, or simply darting past with inches to spare. Finally, however, we were on the "Paeage" motorway and the relative calm of cars and trucks traveling along at over 120 kph.

It takes a good 1.5 - 2 hours to get to Rouen, and we stopped along the way for a short break at one of the convenient rest-stops. Mostly, those in the van either slept of talked in French. I was content just to drive and pay attention to the road.

Once we reached Rouen, following the advice of our trusty GPS, Br. Emmanuel directed us in a different direction to St. Yon than the GPS - which of course I followed for political reasons if not for practical ones. It took us a little longer to get to St. Yon, but get to it we did. There, waiting in front, were the two "guides" for our visit. One obviously was the person with whom Br. Emmanuel had negotiated our visit, and the other looked to be a supervisor, or some representative of the province, no doubt there to make sure that we didn't do anything harmful to the state.

They first took us to the former chapel of the property, which had been split into two floors years ago. We went to the upper level, where you could see the roof. There we filmed a couple of takes with Br. Gerard and I did a panoramic picture series. It's amazing that this was the actual place where the Brothers and the boarders and the students and the "prisoners" would assemble for Mass regularly for so many years. It's the place that was the Motherhouse of the Institute for quite some time and it's now a series of government offices and education resources. Major sections of the place are being turned into classes for various kinds of arts and crafts. So I guess that you could say that it's still being used in favor of the "artisans" and the poor of Rouen, the location of the property being in the working class part of the city.

After the chapel, they took us to the dungeons, where those who were commited with "lettres de cachet" were held for an indefinite period of time, as sort of prisoners of the state. The Brothers cared for them, oversaw their confinement, tried to reform them, and did the best they could. (De La Salle was particularly effective in reforming them and developed a bit of reputation in relating well with these prisoners, so we're told.) Counting the with boarders, delinquents, students, novices, and Brothers, it was quite the busy place. It's also where De La Salle lived out the last years of his life and died. The property had extensive gardens, apparently, but very little remains of that. The huge building that now covers the property came along much later, and only the chapel is authentic from DLS's time. Our "guides" also showed us, at our request, one of the individual 10-by-7 individual cells, and we did some filming there as well. This was all in the basement, where it was quite gloomy and dark. It's a wonder that people survived the experience at all. The greatest challenge that Roch and Scott had was to set up sufficient lighting for filming. Roch had put together and brought along an amazingly creative set of strong LED lights - from places like Home Depot - and devised a way of adapting them onto portable stands, with the whole setup able to be carried around in a large metal case. Since these lights worked on battery power, they would just have to be rechargd every night and then we could get several hours of lighting from them. Designed as work lights for a shop, with the right kind of gel coverings they worked pretty well as filming lights. This way we didn't have to worry about power cables, outlets, and the like. Without them, we certainly would have been up a dark creek without a light.

After a couple of hours at St. Yon, it was time to leave and move on to the statue and fountain at the plaza at the end of the same block. We did some filming there but had difficultly with the lighting, since the sun kept coming and going throughout our time there. But eventually we got a good "take" and moved on to the other side of the city and the medieval courtyard of St. Maclou, where the Brothers had a school as part of a series of square medieval buildings surrounding the public cemetery. The buildings in the area still whole area around there retain their medieval character, and you can see carvings of the dance macabre in the lintels of the framework at St. Maclou; vestiges of the Black Death and the cemetery that made up the courtyard. Apparently, the students would regularly hear funeral processions coming in for a burial, and certain elements in the Conduct of Schools talk about the prayers that the students should say when they hear the funeral bell approaching. This came from the experience at St. Maclou.

Filming at that location was difficult because of the many visitors that show up, and because city workers were doing some cement work in the plaza. Whenever we'd set up and started a take, one of the workmen would begin to shovel cement or use his trowel to smack down the cement that had been poured. It took some gentle glaring and 4 or 5 takes before the team of 1 worker and 3 supervisors left with their equipment and allowed us to do our filming. I also worked on getting a good panoramic photograph here, although with the various visitors coming in it was difficult to get a clear series of pictures. On our way our, a whole busload of tourists was coming in - I guess that I should count my blessings.

Now we were ready for lunch, so we drove to the plaza of St. Sever and had lunch at the various stores and stands that dot the area. After that, we went into the church of St. Sever and filmed at the small side chapel dedicated to De La Salle. It's where he was buried after his death and before being moved to the chapel at St. Yon later on. There's a statue of De La Salle there along with a plaque that was written by the pastor of St. Sever at the time, a priest who was very critical of DLS while he was alive but was a great advocate of his after De La Salle's death.

Done with St. Sever, we drove to the cemetery of Rouen at the church of the Sacred Heart, overlooking the entire city on one side of the river. (This is also where there is a large cemetery where a number of the early Brothers are buried, including Br. Bartholemy - the Superior General after De La Salle - and Br. Irenee, another significant figure in our early history.) By now it had begun to rain, but not hard enough to stop filming. So we found a good spot overlooking the city and filmed Br. Gerard as he related the importance of Rouen and the various times that De La Salle was closely associated with the city. At the end of the filming, the rain began in earnest, yet I stuck around to take a panoramic series of pictures, even if there was the good chance that they would be marred by raindrops on the lens.

It was now nearly 5 PM and everyone was tired. We got in the van and I drove back to Paris while almost everyone else slept, waking up occasionaly for the toll plazas or to have short conversations. Once back in Paris, Br. Emmanuel directed me through various streets in order to highlight for Scott and others sites like the small version of theSstatue of Liberty near the Eiffel Tower, the tunnel where Princess Diana died, and other buildings associated with the history of the Brothers. We got to the house at Rue de Sevres at around 7 PM.

The four of us had a well-deserved dinner at a place just down the street from the Brothers place. This was all the better because by now it was pouring rain. After a leisurely dinner, we stopped at a nearby bakery - what else? - before returning to our rooms for our individual nightly work. For almost each one of us, this meant work on the computer. Then off to bed, hopefully.

Tomorrow, it's all about Paris, after which we will drive to Reims where we will be tomorrow evening in preparation for the following day's filming in Reims.

(Note: Click on each picture to enlarge it, if you wish.)