The Musée des Confluences is a science center and anthropology museum — it was our wake up call.
Lugdunum may have been musical to Roman ears, but Lyon sounded much better to us — regardless of intonation. You see, France has many, many flavors of French, and as soon as you speak French learned in a non-local home or classroom, they shift, either to formal French or English (in our case). It became a game.
We would use French, and they would answer in English. We would speak English, and they would answer in local French. But Bonjour Madame ou Monsieur was guaranteed to get a sincere and friendly effort to communicate. With 30% of English being French in direct or derivative origin, it’s actually fun if one lets it be.
So far, we and the French we have spoken with, have all walked away with a smile. One thing throughout the trip was we never had to point to a menu item. Our French was always good enough to get us what we expected. Magali, like all our French guides, was more than willing to assist us with pronunciation and word selection and gender. Some of the glottals required a six year old’s throat.
Since we would be in Lyon for more than a day, we chose our cool first morning tour to focus on the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The less than fully religious here refer to it as the upside down elephant*. Its design dates to the mid 1800s, but its traditional elements make it feel older. Unlike just about everything we’ve seen so far, it wasn’t wrapped in controversy beyond the usual secular-religious tug of war. It was built in thanks for the sparing of Lyon in the Franco-Prussian War.
After crossing a lane of bike traffic moving at breakneck speed with the help of all the crew including the Captain, we loaded ourselves in another coach to cross the river and climb the hill.
well, there was a lot more traffic when we crossed
rental bikes are everywhere but no one wnats to return them uphill
Roman, ya think?
designed to impress, it does
he was quite good
chapel to a black virgin Mary
the lion of Judah, the lion of Lyon gets his nose rubbed for luck
battle of Lepanto where the Ottomans were defeated
Lyon’s Tour métallique de Fourvière (1894)
the man behind the building of the Basillica
The major contributors
Lyon looking East
the financial districr
the opera house
La Place Bellecour, the third largest square in France
Lyon is the third largest city in France. It’s a foodie city, and the foodies get their Euro working in banking, as well as for the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries — and bistros, cafes, restaurants and brasserie… A word about that, Bistros** mean fast, Cafe means coffee. Restaurants mean at least two course meals. Brasseries are where one gets beer. In practice, it’s not so tightly defined, but that’s the etymology. There are said to be 2500 eateries of some description in the city center alone, and the tourists make up a very small portion of the business. This is a working city with an appetite and always has been.
One of its unique attributes are Traboules. These are hidden, street-level tunnels that were cut between businesses and townhouses to facilitate the silk trade — IT geeks would call it a sneaker-net — a network hidden within and beneath the acknowledged infrastructure. These were neither dark nor dank. People lived in houses that fronted them. They were just an extensive array of short cuts designed to reduce the number of Francs it took to make more Francs.
The first part of the gallery is a traboule that underruns a townhouse. The second is a traboule that runs behind a business and apartments.
where’s that door?
one of the few plaques like this
the secret code
even at 10 am there is sun
Even these spaces are decorated
keeping the air flowing
Roman arches but post Roman
the other side
where’s that door?
down the block another traboule
clean vent, good smell
light for the (foodie) business
romeo? juliet? wherefor art thee
the bars have been therealmost as long as the building
plants will have their sun, the gargoyle its rain
the sunlight was just feet away either direction
“close the door, thanks”
where is it?
Did we say Lyon is a foodie city? The following gallery encompasses a single block. There are hundreds of blocks.
On our return to the ship, our Maitre’d, Manuel, and the dining staff awaited us with a presentation of the “Taste of Provence,” a melange of culinary specialties from the area. Ou, La, La!
* Upside Down Elephant
**The word bistro derived from the Russian bystro (быстро), “quickly”. It entered the French language during the Battle of Paris (1814). Russian officers or cossacks who wanted to be served quickly would shout “bystro. “The French turned it from an irritant to an attribute. OBTW, Bistro = Bistrot