Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day-Trip to Lyon

Last Saturday evening my landlord, J-F, called to ask if I would like to go to Lyon the next day. I happily accepted as I had been wondering when I would visit the city and why not have a local show you around? Besides, I had nothing planned for Sunday other than cleaning and settling into my flat, which would have been a drag as the forecast was 26°C.

The Saône.

Both the Rhône and Saône (pronunciation: silent a, rhymes with Rhône) run parallel through Lyon and therefore there are many bridges connecting the city.

First we set out to see Notre-Dame basilica situated atop the hill Fourvière. In 1870, in the heat of the Franco-Prussian war, the lyonnais prayed to the Virgin Mary to spare them from the German invasion. Their prayers were heard and granted so the church was built after the war,and dedicated to Mary.

The highlight of the day for me was the Gallo-Roman ruins we passed on the way to the church. I knew there were Gallo-Roman ruins in Avignon, but I didn’t expect to see ruins in Lyon. This is probably because my major reference point for the history of Gaulle is the Astérix and Obélix comics series. I certainly studied the period in grade 8 Social Studies with M. Bustos, but that was too long ago and, as I recall, my group had done a project on the Visigoths.

During the Gallo-Roman era, Lyon was called Lugdunum and was the capital of Gaulle. The ruins we visited were two amphitheatres. The coolest part is that in the summer they still stage plays and performances in there! Can you imagine how amazing that must be?

Another notable Lyon sight is the cathédrale St-Jean’s astronomical clock. The earliest known historical reference to this clock is 1383. I was surprised to see the signs of the zodiac on the clock in the church, but I suppose outside of astrology they are but constellations. When the clock chimes on the hour, the mechanical figurines that adorn it move. We tried to see it, but missed it each of the three times it was scheduled to chime that afternoon.

That afternoon, J-F was much too generous and treated me to an extensive traditional French meal. We had foie gras poêlé as our appetizers, and though I ate it, I didn’t much care for this controversial dish. As my main course I had salmon. Next there was a cheese course, and for desert we had champagne and apricot pie.

Après le repas, j’étais prête à rentrer. After the meal, I was ready to go home. J-F, however, insisted that he show me the parc de la tête d’or. Unfortunately, when we got there the park was closed for safety reasons because it was so windy there was danger of branches being blown down.

Altogether it was a long but lovely Sunday. Lyon is a quick 50-minute train ride from St-É, so I anticipate going many times while I’m here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

In my 'Intro to Italian Culture' class, I learned just last week that apparently Petrarch and other Italian poets/artists/people moved to Avignon because the Papal State was moved from Rome to that part of France in the 1300-1400's. I'd love to see the ancient ruins in that area some day.