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Aurélie Fortin has a degree in art history. She takes photos of Rennes in a new light and shares her snaps on an Instagram account followed worldwide.
Aurélie was born and raised in Rennes. Since 2012, she has been sharing her photos on the social network Instagram. At first without much success, confessed the shy young woman. Now, her account named "A fading summer" is followed by 7,500 people - a small yet international community. "By sharing photos on Instagram, we can talk to people from all over the world", explains Aurélie. "I have followers in Austria, Italy, the United States...I love seeing their reactions when I post photos of Rennes, they are often surprised by the town's architectural riches".
"PHONE-OGRAPHER AND LIGHT-HUNTER"
She was never particularly destined to being a photographer, given her "amateur" status. "In secondary school, I took more of an interest in drawing, and my love for photography came with time. After seeing so many beautiful Instagram accounts posting about Paris or other big cities, I wanted to do the same and show Rennes in a new light". She uses the term "phone-ographer" to modestly introduce herself on her profile. As an avid "light-hunter", armed with her phone alone, she captures the city's streets and monuments with a style that can now easily be recognised.
She only filters the light in Rennes very slightly, never too much. "I try to keep a natural side and simply enhance the city's colours", confesses Aurélie. The city does not need much make-up to reveal its charms. "Rennes is a very photogenic city, and I particularly love the historical centre which is full of colours with its half-timbered houses. Its architecture is unique, and cannot be found in other countries".
"My favourite place is the Rue des Dames, it feels like a little village, I love to stroll around there, especially during the summer, I go there often to take pictures". Summer is in fact her favourite season, the name of her Instagram account is indeed a nod to this slightly nostalgic moment when the summer season starts to fade away, like a distant memory...
THE HÔTEL GALICIER AND ITS "FAIRYTALE" LOOK
Aurélie has other favourite spots for taking photos, such as Place Hoche with the Hôtel Galicier and its resemblance with a "fairytale castle", the half-timbered houses in Place du Champs-Jacquet, which are "a must-see" when you come to Rennes. She also appreciates nice facades, like the one used by the Ouest France editorial team - Rue du Pré Botté - with its Art Deco style, or the richly sculpted Hôtel Barré under which stands the Durand chocolate shop.
Aurélie prefers the town to be deserted, firstly from a shyness point of view and most importantly for the morning light and the calmness emanating from the streets: "I often come early in the morning or on a Sunday when the streets only have very few people in them". When asked if she had a photo trail to recommend to people who wish to visit Rennes' historical centre, an itinerary springs to mind easily, like a mental map that she knows off by heart.
"EVERY TIME I DISCOVER NEW DETAILS ON THE BUILDING FACADES"
"Start at the Tourist Office, walk up the cobbled streets until you reach the Cathedral, then go along Rue de la Monnaie, turn right into Rue Saint-Guillaume to see Ti Coz - the big red half-timbered house - then carry on down Rue de la Psalette or Rue Saint-Sauveur before passing through Rue du Chapitre", recites Aurélie. "This whole neighbourhood is very interesting for photos as there are a lot of details, sculptures on the facades and statues. Every time I go I discover new things".
"The large shopping streets offer beautiful perspectives, such as Rue Le Bastard for instance, with the Palace of Commerce right at the end. The Parliament and surrounding buildings are also very interesting. That's what I like about Rennes", asserts Aurélie, "there are lots of different architectural styles - from medieval houses to more contemporary buildings".
"I LOVE THE THABOR GARDENS IN THE SPRING, THE BLOSSOMING MAGNOLIAS AND REFLECTIONS IN THE WATER"
Even though this art history enthusiast has a preference for ancient architecture, she likes to open up to new places, new atmospheres. "I want to extend my field of action to unknown territory, I feel attracted to the Parc des Tanneurs as I've never been there before". Nature in the city is also one of the themes she likes to capture. "I love the Thabor gardens in the spring, especially the flowering magnolias looking out over the Rue de Paris. The reflections in the water along the river also offer exceptional views".
Aurélie will not be stopping her intimate strolls through Rennes anytime soon. She discretely pursues the description of her work: "I try to find different angles, people perhaps don't see Rennes like I do, but I enjoy showing the city under another light..."