Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Lyon, part two: Four Views on Fourvière and Brothers Lumière

Lyon, France (Lyon, France)
January 2016
On the morning of the second of January, we made an expedition to the train station to see Fabienne off. She was heading back to Annecy to welcome a new round of flatmates, and we were staying in the city for a few more days before our flight to London. Once she had departed, we sunk into a funk of melancholy and spent the rest of the day in our flat, venturing out only to pick up supplies at the supermarket. On the way there, we were asked for directions by a tourist - it always makes me chuffed to be mistaken for a local! 
On the third, we walked up a big hill to see the basilica. Taking a pitstop at the Roman amphitheatre, I posed for a photo with my long-forgotten teacup, which had last been used in Sully-sur-Loire! No Paris or Annecy for you, teacup. In antiquity, this hill was known as Fourvière and was the centre of the Roman city. The Theatre of Fourvière was constructed in 15BC and could hold ten thousand spectators.

At the top of the hill rests the impressive Basilique de Fourvière, built on the site of the Roman forum. Inside, every surface seemed to be covered in either detailed mosaics or gleaming marble.

Just over to the left of the basilica was an odd half-replica of the Eiffel tower. We had seen glimpses of it over the past couple of days while walking around the city, and figured that the bottom half of it was obscured by the hill, but once we reached it we discovered that it was only the top half after all! What's the point of that?

The view looking out from the top of the hill allowed you to see far and wide. At the bottom of the photo you can see the cathedral of Lyon, sticking out like a big hunk of stone among the apartment buildings, with the river just beyond it and the ferris wheel a little further.

For lunch, we visited a bakery to purchase a baguette and Yannick chose two pastries filled with praline: a brioche and an éclair. Praline is a Lyonnais specialty consisting of almonds covered in cooked sugar with pink food colouring. As you may have been able to surmise by now, Lyon is known worldwide for its cuisine. A reputable food critic by the name of Curnonsky called the city "the gastronomic capital of the world", and this title has henceforth been bandied about aplenty.
Food aside for now, wines in the region are also highly praised, with Beaujolais produced to the north of Lyon, and Côtes du Rhône to the south. Nom nom nom.

On our last day, we visited a newer part of Lyon where we discovered all sorts of statues, including a metal roller skating man and a more realistic sculpture representing the Four Winds as swift horses (above).
For lunch we ate at a sandwich restaurant - L'Epicerie. With no vegan sandwich options I ordered the only thing available: a bowl of lettuce leaves tossed in olive oil with three hazelnuts on the top. We also kept having to stand up to let other diners squeeze past onto our enormous shared table where we bumped elbows for the duration of our meal. The experience was made a million times better by the kir royale I sipped at. So much yums.

Briefly we checked out the Opéra Nouvel, where operas are staged. Large and reflecty, it was impressive but a little too modern for my tastes. 

Our last sightseeing stop was La Fresque des Lyonnais, an enormous mural covering one whole side of a building. Painted over a blind facade (no windows), the scene shows six contemporary citizens at ground level, with numerous historical Lyonnais figures gazing out from windows and standing on balconies on the floors above. Some are fictional, such as the children's book character Le Petit Prince, and many are real like the Brothers Lumière: the first filmmakers in history. You can see the brothers on the top right of the photo with an early film projector inside.
Cheers to the brothers Lumière, who made it possible to watch great films like Gladiator, and cheers to the brothers Wright, who made it possible for me to skip over from Lyon to London in a couple of hours. Now to get through immigration and customs...

Today's post was almost called: Mon Kir Manque Mon Cœur