Wandering the little lanes of Niort with my pencils and sketchbook

Jean-François Gleyze uses his pencils to capture the essence of the towns and cities he passes through, sketchbook under his arm. This time, the tip of his pencils reveal the fine city of Niort, which held him firmly under its spell. Shall we go along with him?
Atelier du disciple de Palissy

As I turn a corner, my view for the day comes into focus: and old half-timber house, a ceramics workshop, and the hustle and bustle of a busy market day. I may well try to be inconspicuous, but I don’t go unnoticed. While I was busy drawing, I received four or five compliments and just as many tips for the next episode of my Odyssey.

Wandering the little lanes of Niort with my pencils and sketchbook
39 rue du Pont

I settle down at the start of the bridge and become engrossed in drawing the facade of a building criss-crossed with wooden beams. Next to me, four students are busy moving out of their flat.

Maison de la Vierge

From the corner of this house, a statue of Our Lady and two no entry signs watch over a crossroads that’s wilting in the heat. I’m the only person on the street. It seems all the locals are hiding from the sun.

Wandering the little lanes of Niort with my pencils and sketchbook
Le Pilori

There’s nothing to pillory, here, just posters for modern art exhibitions. As I sit and draw, an improbable horde of firemen sets to work in the neighbourhood... unless it’s a street performance?

Wandering the little lanes of Niort with my pencils and sketchbook
Place des Halles

Settling down on the esplanade of Les Halles, I savour the pleasure of an unbeatable view of the square. Happily sitting out on the café terraces, the people below me don’t even notice I’m there. “See without being seen”, that’s the key to capturing a city’s soul.

The old Auction House

On the way back, I spend half an hour in the company of this old building that had caught my eye when I got here this morning. The shades and textures are amazing, but my train isn’t going to wait for me. Never mind, I’ve already set a date for coming back to Niort with my coloured pencils.

Getting to Niort 


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