The most striking building in the French coastal city of Royan is undoubtedly the Cathedral (église Notre-Dame) – it stands on the site of a former neo-gothic church that was destroyed in 1945 (as was much of Royan). Designed by architects Guillaume Gillet and Marc Hébrard and built between 1955-58 entirely of concrete, it is considered one of the leaders of French contemporary architecture.
Externally I think it is fair to say that it is an aquired taste, the brutal concrete structure looms over the city appearing to all intent and purposes like some kind of rocket ship abandoned on planet earth – some would say it is best viewed from afar.
But step inside and perhaps like me you will let out a little wow – the inside of the catherdral is quite simply stunning all the more so as the external facades give no hint of what to expect when you do step inside. The contrast between the textures of the cast-in-situ concrete and the amazing modern stained glass is breathtaking – even with the all seeing eye of my fisheye it is difficult to take in the majesty of this building – as you can probably tell I am a big fan.
As always with the fisheye it is a matter of taste if the “fishy” or “de-fished” looks better – so here they are side by side – I can’t decide.
The cathedral makes extensive use of modern abstract and more traditional stained glass often with clear glass elements incorporated edge on to pull in light like fibre optics would – the effect is wonderful.
All images were taken hand-held using the G9’s amazing in-body image stabilisation at shutter speeds as slow as 0.5 seconds.
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