Chapter 32 – We Move to Lyon

Totally unfinished. Will be all redone.

In 1986 we had to move to Lyon, which got to be for us Genas, a town east of Lyon and comfortably close to our working places, which were on the Campus in Villeurbanne, a sister city of Lyon in the north.

To be continued

In those days, when Clara was a little girl and then a young girl (she is now a young woman) and there were lots of places in and around Lyon to go and see, it was always a great pleasure to have company for New Year’s. We also managed to stay up past midnight back in those days, which we barely do any more. We always spent Christmas Day with our oldest and best friends in this part of the world, Jean and Danièle, who live close to Lyon.

For many many years we even had the big Christmas dinner at Danièle’s mother’s home in Lyon where sometimes up to three of her aunts were also present. This was Danièle’s mother’s and aunts’ home even during the war. However, since then the entire quartier has been wonderfully renovated and beautified. It is a small 4-room apartment with a tiny kitchen, and during the war it was the home of the entire family, five children and the mother, after the father died at their farm in Burgundy. The entire family participated in the Résistance, except Germaine, the youngest one. In those days there wasn’t just the family of six but also any homeless body who was escaping from the Gestapo, usually other resistance fighters.

Clara grew up to become bilingual since she spoke German with Ruth  and Jürgen and French in her special school. Now Clara lives in Munich during the year and she only spends a week or so with Jürgen during this end-of-year vacation, after having spent Christmas with Ruth and Christian in Autrans.

So this year it was decided that it would be too tiring for everybody to take the train to Lyon with the equipment Clara needs. Jürgen spends half his time with Clara in Munich and half the time in Paris, which is by far his favorite city in the world. They are also very close to Jürgen’s family in Lermoos, Tyrol, Austria and both of them love to spend a lot of time there in the summer. In the winter, however, when there is a lot of snow, the things Jürgen can do outdoors with Clara are limited and so they used to come to Lyon  and go for walks or take trips on snow-less roads.

A walking bridge that crosses the Saône

Le Pont Alphonse Juin spanning the Saône and leading to ‘Vieux Lyon’ on the left from the ‘Presqu’Île’, the very center of Lyon. In the background is la Croix Rousse.

Lyon is a city with a lot of remarkable historical sites. It is beautifully located on the two rivers le Rhône and la Saône, with the downtown Presqu’île (peninsula) between the two rivers. It has many medieval and also Roman monuments and buildings, art museums and a very good opera.

Among other sites there are les Théâtres Romains de Fourvière, the Roman amphitheaters, very well preserved and restored, where in the June and July there are often performances. And not to be missed is the incredibly beautiful Gallo-Roman museum at the top of the Fourvière hill on the west side of the Saône.

Probably thousands of people assembled to see and hear Woody Allen and his New Orleans band on a nice summer evening

Probably thousands of people assembled to see and hear Woody Allen and his New Orleans band on a nice summer evening — 2013

In the summer you often see the stage at the big amphitheater set for a play or an opera. Les Nuits de Fourvière have become internationally known events. We were there in 2013  with friends to hear Woody Allen play his clarinet with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Great event for New Orleans jazz lovers. 1

Lyon was at one time the capital of a region of the Roman empire, Gallia Lugdunensis, ‘Lugdunum’ at that time, meaning ‘fortress’. The ‘gd’ clearly got softened (mouillé) into a ‘ye’ sound. The Latin ending ‘um’ (or ‘us’ or ‘a’) always gets dropped in French and often becomes a non-pronounced ‘e’. So we have something like Luyoun, and we are not far from Lyon.

Woody Allen and his New Orleans band

Woody Allen and his New Orleans band

La Maison des Canuts is a museum on la Croix Rousse in the 4th arrondissement, north of the Presqu’Île. There you can see the way the Lyon silk workers (called les Canuts — etymology uncertain) worked when their industry flourished in the 19th century. Silk had been manufactured in Lyon ever since the Renaissance, but it became an important industry in the 19th century.  Les Canuts lived so poorly and worked so hard that there were at least two major rebellions in that century, that were brutally put down by his Majesty’s troops and cannons.

So the ancient network of trade routes that were called the Silk Road and that connected the East and the West through all of Asia ended at Lyon, among other places.

But let us above all not forget le Vieux Lyon where we always take friends from abroad, or from Paris, on a pleasant walk and a meal at one of the little Lyonnais restaurants called ‘bouchons‘, where the typical and very heavy typical lyonnais food used to be served — but less and less so now. It is highly fatty food from cow stomachs, tripes, andouilettes and such.

…And Lyon goes on

Lyon environs, mainly la Cité de Pérouge and le Beaujolais.

The architecture is Italian-inspired since the area dates from the Renaissance era when masses of Italians immigrated to Lyon. A great many Italian names are found still today in the Lyon area. It’s a marvel to wander around la rue Saint Jean from la cathédrale Saint Jean towards the church Saint Paul and then back  on la rue du Boeuf and la rue Juiverie, cobble-stoned streets with the gutter in the center. Remarkable courtyards surrounded by Italian-style buildings and small towers. And there are les traboules that are a very typically lyonnais feature, covered passages that take you from one street to a parallel one under beautiful Renaissance buildings.

A jazz concert with Dizzy Gillespie at l'Amphithéâtre de Vienne, a well restored Roman amphithéâtre

A jazz concert with Dizzy Gillespie at ‘Le Théâtre antique de Vienne’, a well restored Roman amphithéâtre that holds 8000 people.

In Vienne, a city south of Lyon at about one good hour’s drive towards Marseille on l’autoroute du Sud, there is also the huge Théâtre antique. It’s an enormous amphitheater that dates from the first century CE, and it holds 8000 people. They organize regular jazz festivals every year. It’s a miraculous show and we were there at least once in 1990 with four very good friends to see and hear Dizzy Gillespie and his band. It’s quite a story, but more about that in a later chapter. .

We also usually take our friends and families to see le Beaujolais, a vineyard region south of la Bourgogne (Burgundy). The best time is in the fall when the leaves are turning orange and red. Hillsides after hillsides covered in fall colored vine leaves is a gorgeous sight. We make it a day excursion and have lunch in a pleasant restaurant somewhere. There are many of them.

'La place' at the very entrance of Pérouges-- with friend Britt in 1990

‘La place’ at the very entrance of Pérouges — Siv and friend Britt in 1990

There are also numerous historical sites close to Lyon. Just about half an hour’s drive east of Genas where we live is one of the most see-worthy ones, la cité de Pérouge, an enchanting medieval village where, obviously, you park your car outside the town gate and then you walk on the cobble-stoned streets.

Continued: Chapter XX

  1. Year on year, driven by its director Dominique Delorme, the festival Les Nuits de Fourvière asserts its desire for daring and originality. Behind its conventional aspect a vast array of initiatives are to be found, all contributing to a rich two-month programme (theatre, classical music, dance, rock, world music…)Nuits de Fourvière