Every photographer loves the golden hour, that special time between dusk and dark. Sunsets can be spectacular, unusual and surreal. Since I just got back from Page Arizona to photograph the natural beauty of the area, including of course Horseshoe Bend at sunset, I have decided to collect a few of my favorite sunsets from around the world. Not all sunsets depend on color to make them spectacular, although Horseshoe Bend might be the exception. Often it is the subtle interplay of light and dark, the delicate colors rather than flashy vibrance and it is always about that soft light that fills our senses as the embers of the day play out.
Born in 1852, Annette Poulard was just twenty when the Mont-Saint- Michel, set free from its imprisonment and declared Historic Monument by the State, opened its doors once more to the outside world and to life. So it was quite natural then for Annette and Victor to open their inn in 1888 to accommodate pilgrims and food-lovers rushing there to taste the cooking of the one who by now had been nick-named “Mère Poulard”.
In the 13th century, a donation by the king of France, Philip Augustus, in the wake of his conquest of Normandy, enabled a start to be made on the Gothic section of the “Merveille”, two three-story buildings, crowned by the cloister and the refectory. The Merveille contains a number of great halls, kitchens, cloisters, and a dormitory.
The cloister is my favorite part of the whole monastery. As with other abbeys the cloister’s function is above all a communications center inspired by the atrium of a Roman villa and providing access to all the essential rooms: to the east, the refectory and the kitchens which no longer exist; to the south, one door led to the church another to the dormitory; to the west, the three traditional apertures must have opened into the chapter hall that was never built and a small door led to the archives. Only the north gallery, in the direction of the sea was not meant to serve as a way of communication with other rooms. The principal functions of monastic life, except for work and reception, were thus distributed around the cloister.
The island was not only dedicated to St Michel, the Celts used it to worship the god Belenus and the Romans built a shrine to Jove. After Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul, the area became known to the Romans as Armorica, from the Celtic term for “coastal area” including the Brittany peninsula and the territory between the Seine and Loire rivers. From around 350 the Mount was a key port for the trading of tin to the rest of Europe. In 495 a vision of the Archangel of St Michael appeared on the Mount. Between 450 and 500 AD, when the Roman power and population were dwindling, many ships brought fugitives from Britain to Armorica. Around the time of the Roman departure, the Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxons began a migration to the Eastern coast of Britain, where they established their own kingdoms. The post-Roman Celtic-speakers of Armorica were colonists from Britain, resulting in the Breton language, a language related to Welsh and identical to Cornish in the early period and still used today. They also retained control of Cornwall and Northwest England, where Kingdoms such as Dumnonia and Rheged survived.
The island's cathedral story starts in 709 AD with Bishop Aubert of Avranches. The legend goes that the archangel Michael kept appearing in the bishop's dreams. Michael begged him to build a church on the barren rock known then as Mont Tombe. While the bishop initially had his doubts, he was eventually persuaded to build an oratory on the top of Mont Saint Michel. The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when William “Long Sword”, William I, Duke of Normandy, annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, definitively placing the mount in Normandy. It is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry which commemorates the 1066 Norman conquest of England.
It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the north-western coast of Brittany, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 44, as of 2009. The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. Over time the bay in which the Mont resides has silted up, hastened by the causeway to the island. On 16 June 2006, the French prime minister and regional authorities announced a €164 million project to build a hydraulic dam using the waters of the river Couesnon and of tides to help remove the accumulated silt deposited by the rising tides, and to make Mont-Saint-Michel an island again. You can see the dam in the above picture. The causeway will be removed to be replaced by a bridge.