Martin and Gemma's Eclipse Trip, France 1999

This is my account of our trip to France to see and experience the total eclipse of the sun....August 11th 1999.

Having been told of a very reasonable trip to see the total eclipse of the sun in France, I contacted the travel firm responsible... Travelsphere (01858 410818) and booked 2 places, one for me and one for my daughter, Gemma. My plans for photography were not insignificant.... 3 35mm cameras and one digital, two tripods, one 500mm lens, one 350mm lens and 2 1.4 converters. Dry runs of the day were done here at home. In the early hours of Tuesday 10th August we were on our way! All seemed to be going well. The weather forecast though was not perfect. On the morning of the eclipse we set out from the outskirts of Paris under cloudy skies. We were to view the eclipse from the 'Parc de L'Ailette' about 25 miles NW of Reims, not far from the centreline of the eclipse. The sky was heavy with cloud, the roads were heavy with traffic!

Full roads

There were only slight breaks in the clouds as we drove towards Reims. It began to look like we may not see anything. We were still on the road as the eclipse entered its first stages. The bus drove on past fields of sunflowers, past war graves, past trees full of mistletoe and on towards the park. As we got closer we saw large numbers of eclipse watchers gathering hopefully in the fields. People on the bus put on their protective glasses and peeped out of the window at the sun on the few occasions it appeared through the clouds....

Where is it?

We arrived at the park at about 11:45 local time, and already some of the 7500 people Travelsphere had brought on the trip had arrived....

The scene as we arrived

BUT..... the clouds went thicker and when we got off the bus all we could see in the direction of the sun were clouds, clouds and more clouds, no sun at all and only about 30 mins to totality....

Clouds.... no sun

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