A Midnight Raid on Vézelay (Dennis Aubrey)


PJ and I have shot for several years at Vézelay and have thousands of shots there, but this year we took the opportunity to do something different. We were both suffering a bit from jet lag and in the middle of the night were at our balcony looking across the valley toward the Basilique Sainte Madeleine in Vézelay. Sleep was fugitive, so we decided that we would go out and photograph her in the moonlight.

Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay (Yonne) Photography by Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey

We drove into the empty town on the single main road that took us up the hill to the basilica. It was quite an experience to be alone on the streets of the normally busy square in front of the church. We were able to spend a couple of hours completely undisturbed while moving around and trying different shots. I really like this shot from the street up towards the Basilica, showing what the pilgrims would have seen on their way to see the relics of Mary Magdalene.

Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay (Yonne) Photography by Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey

For this next shot, we just reversed and shot down the street away from the church. The clouds and moon give a great atmosphere to the sleeping town.

Street in Vézelay (Yonne) Photography by Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey

For some reason, this is my favorite shot of the evening, the basilica seen from beneath an arch over the side street leading to the plaza. It seems to communicate the feeling of anticipation that one has approaching the great church for the first time. And it captures the romantic adventure of our midnight visit to the Madeleine.

Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay (Yonne) Photography by Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey

7 responses to “A Midnight Raid on Vézelay (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. Your photos are beautiful. I’ve been there and you have captured it beautifully. It appears that not being able to sleep can sometimes be a good thing.

  2. Spectacular – what an inspired idea to photograph by moonlight – thanks ! I write from Lyons – saw what is left of Saint-Martin of Chapaize yesterday on our way down – what a lovely village it anchors –

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