You might recall that I told you about the European Nuits des Musées in May, a night on which museums all over Europe open their doors to the public for free for one night, an initiative which France has embraced with vigour.
I decided to participate in this event by going to the Musée Roger Rodière at Montreuil-sur-Mer in the Pas-de-Calais region. To be honest I hadn’t heard of it before I looked at the Nuits des Musées website to see what museums were participating in our local vicinity. It’s a tiny museum in a glorious old house in a beautiful town. Most of the artefacts on display are religious and there are a few pretty good paintings, and other bits and pieces – but you can tour the whole museum in an hour or two if you like to read everything and study the items.
The Other Half was reluctant to go – he hates what he calls “arty farty” nights out and on this occasion I probably have to agree – it wasn’t his thing. It was a bit of a clique crowd. The heavy rain that came down on Saturday night put a bit of damper on the whole event as they’d set up a marquis in the garden for visitors and had rolled out an old hurdy gurdy machine which was playing soft music in the background. I thought it all looked rather lovely – in a rainy way. Besides which I love being at Montreuil whatever the weather, it’s such a beautiful place with its ancient old houses, tall castle ramparts and citadel and gorgeous flower displays which make it one of the most well known ville fleuris in the area.
If you like religious statuary (luckily I do) there are some stunning medieval examples at the Museum; there are some very nice paintings too – mostly French landscapes and architecture and scenes of daily life. It was good to see it on the special night, like many other museums that take part, the lighting was turned down low – some museums even use candle light. I guess that might have been a bit of a risk in this old house, there were no security guards to be seen and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. In the low light, there were shadows behind the religious sculptures and the paintings took on a special quality. I enjoyed being in the house – it looks so imposing from the outside but it’s actually quite cosy once you get in, small rooms, shifting floors and a magnificent stair case.
Afterwards we wandered round the town, reading all the historic plaques on the many ancient and architecturally beautiful buildings. Sadly the rain and light meant that photos were a little dark – I’ll have to go back in the daylight, drat (not)! We had a fabulous meal at Les Hauts de Montreuil restaurant in one of the oldest buildings in town (it was built in 1537) and watched the rain fall softly from the top of the ramparts of the old castle in the town beloved by Victor Hugo and Jules Verne and thought how lucky we are to be here.