Auguste and Louis Lumière were born in this house in Besançon at 1 Place Rondot Saint-Quentin, which now has the address 1 Place Victor Hugo. They lived here until 1870, when their family moved back to Lyon.
All you loyal readers of my Lyon posts may recall that Lyon was where Auguste Lumière (1862-1954) and his brother Louis Lumière (1864-1948) invented the motion picture camera and made their first film — a very short film of workers coming out of their factory after work. This film had no plot and only lasted 46 seconds when cranked by hand through the Lumières’ patented projector, but it was a big hit when it was first shown in Paris in 1895, because no one had seen anything like it.
Both Auguste and Louis Lumière were still alive when the Second World War began, and they both made themselves unpopular in their left-leaning native city of Besançon by coming out in favor of the collaborationist Vichy regime of Marshal Pétain. In addition, Louis admired the Italian Fascists and Auguste supported the “Legion of French Volunteers” who fought on the side of the Nazis.
After the war, no mayor of Besançon was willing to even mention the Lumière brothers, much less commemorate them in any way. Now, seven decades after the end of the war, the first slight exception is being made, since one of the nineteen new trams in the Besançon tramway system has been named after them and even has a picture of them on the front.
Here we are looking up the Rue de la Convention from the Lumières’ birth house on Place Victor Hugo, with the historic Porte Noire (Black Gate) and the cathedral in the background. Actually the Black Gate is not black at all, at least not any more.
Location, aerial view and photo of the Porte Noire on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.
See more posts on Besançon, France.