Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lyon, days 4 and 5

I've a week off this week, and one of the things I've vowed to do is catch up with blog posts, and projects on Ravelry, and paperwork, and do a bit of prospective stuff for a decorating project later in the summer... So finally, last part of the Lyon saga...

Friday, bright(ish) and early(ish), I set off for the basilica at Fourvières.  You can see it from a distance on the first picture of the previous Lyon post, sitting there at the top of the hill like a wedding cake...


I was hoping for High 19th-century Camp, mixed with some art nouveau.  I was not to be disappointed, even before I got into the building.



The basilica was erected by the grateful Lyonnais immediately after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71, to give thanks to God for having escaped the Prussian invasion.  It dates from about the same time as the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, and it has that same quality of no small space being missed




Doves of various kinds are to the fore...



The floor mosaics were rather beautiful...




... as were both the windows and the modern light fittings


The wall mosaics were beautifully done, too;


and, as inevitable in late 19th century France, Joan of Arc is prominantly featured as a symbol of French pride.



Anyway.  It was lovely.  If, to quote a friend, you like that sort of thing, of course.

Outside, rather a cheery statue of pope JPII, and a great view over the city.



Back down in the funicular to Vieux-Lyon; definitely the right day to see it.  For the first time, I did actually feel as if I was in Southern France.


Another cathedral, but this one was under renovation - the only thing showing behind the altar, on a white sheet, was an enormous QR code, which would presumably give helpful information to someone not equipped with a £10 pay-as-you-go Nokia...


Pretty streets...

Friday23 (2)








After a rather over-copious and slightly-too-touristy lunch (live and learn!) I ambled back into the middle of town and sat in a café for a while, before finding a yarn shop (yay!!) and making my way to the art gallery.  Outside in the square, this statue



Final stop then, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon


By this time I was, quite frankly, all sightseen-out.  But I had a pass which got me in free, and an hour to spare, and there I was; so my plan was to tander through, and if something totally grabbed me by the throat and said LOOK AT ME I'd have a look; but if not, I'd just have a canter through, and a better look next time I come to Lyon.  I'm not a complete masochist, though, so I started with the 19th century paintings rather than looking at armour and stuff..

And the first room I came across was the Salle Janmot.  

Thud.  Love at first sight.

Completely new-to-me Pre-Raphaelite-type painter (technically, apparently, a Romantic/Symbolist, and a formative influence on one of my other favourites, Odilon Redon) - and an entire cycle (Le poème de l'âme/The poem of the soul) in one room.  The most beautiful things.

Here's the guy - Louis Janmot, from a self-portrait.

There's a book available about the cycle, which I was able to buy in the museum bookshop...  I wandered round the rest of the galleries like a stunned fish, went back to the Janmot room and spent another 15 mins or so gazing and attempting not to dribble too obviously, and then wandered out; although it was drizzling again, the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville beckoned


and I had an apéro under the awnings there before heading home - more grilled meat and veg...


The following day, it was just a matter of collecting together the souvenirs and heading home...


Lovely city.  I'll definitely be back.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2013 books, #56-60

Garment of shadows, by Laurie R. King. London: Allison and Busby, 2012.

I did enjoy The pirate king on first reading, checking back... But was extremely glad to see Russell casting off her actor friends and getting back to the plot in this book.  There's a slight stretching of credulity at the beginning when Russell develops amnesia, but it does prod the plot along, and gets them back to Middle Eastern derring-do; this time in 1925 Morocco.  Couple of nice plot twists, and some detail of the actual politics of the period.  Good enjoyable read...  This one also contains the novella Beekeeping for beginners  which was published as a Kindle standalone; reviewed it earlier this year.

Murder in the Sentier, by Cara Black. New York: Soho, 2002.

Another intrepid female protagonist here in Aimée Leduc, computer consultant and private investigator.  When an ex-convict appears claiming to have shared a cell with Aimée's mother, who walked out on the family when Aimée was eight, our girl's understandably curious.  When the woman is found dead shortly afterwards, and there are links to a 1970s terror group, Aimée has to investigate; sometimes in a series of very unlikely outfits.  I really enjoy these books because the Paris geography is just so excellent; you can walk these books with the map provided in the front, and the atmosphere is spot on.  The only thing which jarred in this one was the slightly lame naming of some of the organisations.  If the author had used two German surnames, rather than calling the terrorist group "Haader-Rofmein", or had a generic left-wing publishing house rather than using "Tallimard", it would all have been seamless.

A belated catchup on what I read on holiday: books read on the Kindle don't have to go back to the library or head off to the charity shop, so they don't get reviewed.

A textbook case, by Jeffery Deaver. Kindle edition.

This is a novella to introduce The Kill Room, Deaver's newest Lincoln Rhyme novel; and it was an excellent hour or so's read.  Although I've enjoyed Deaver's short stories before, something about the shorthand in the writing about characters we know well somehow jarred; but his complete mastery of a plot kicked in.  And there are some interesting medical teasers for the next book too (I'm hoping to get hold of it from the library in the next couple of weeks).

The Lewis man, by Peter May. Kindle edition.

The second of this trology. Fin MacLeod has cut ties with the mainland and moved back to Lewis permanently, but can't resist the urge to investigate when a body is found by peat-cutters; the theory that it's a prehistoric bog burial is put paid to when the corpse turns out to be sporting an Elvis tattoo.  The body is DNA tested and is found to be closely related to Marsaili, Fin's childhood girlfriend; but Marsaili's father Tormod has always said he was an only child... Tormod is now deep in the throes of dementia, and parts of the narrative show his confusion; Fin has his work cut out to piece together the life story.  Gripping, like the first part...

The ides of April, by Lindsey Davis. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2013.

Taglined Falco: the new generation, which made me worry.  Shouldn't have, of course - Flavia Albia is a marvellous character.  Davis has wisely taken the action a few years forward, and made Flavia a young widow with an office in Falcon Court, under the reign of Domitian which is considerably more sinister than that of Vespasian.  Helena Justina and Falco himself appear as shadowy figures in the background, but the stage is largely left clear for this feisty, articulate investigator.  There's one "could have seen it coming a mile off" element to the plot, but it really doesn't matter; with any luck, this is the first of many in this new series.  I was sad when Davis announced she'd come to the end of the line with Marcus Didius, but this is a worthy successor.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lyon, day three

Eventually!  It's been a very busy last few weekends, and photo-heavy posts are always a bit awkward to put together...  but seeing the Tour de France pass through Lyon yesterday gave me an additional push to post this...

So; day three and the Croix-Rousse.  Unlike yesterday's cyclists, who made getting up the hill look pretty effortless, I got up there by an extremely sloping Metro train which was halfway to a funicular.  Had a wander slightly down the hill to the viewing platform for a look across the city



and then a wander slightly back up to the Place Jacquard.  Another textile-linked location with a statue looming (sorry) above it:



I was intending to get there early enough to walk up to the Maison des canuts and find out more about the silk weaving trade in Lyon, but a combination of indolence and a short rainstorm as I was due to set out from the studio meant that's one for next time.  (There's definitely going to be a next time...)

Croix-Rousse was recommended by a friend, and it's a lovely bit of town; a little like the quieter bits of Montmartre out of tourist season.



After a wander about, and a purchase of Provençal green beans and olive-wood kitchen implements (box ticked; was really hoping to find some) at the market later, I evaded a creepy man who was intent on taking me for a drink, repaired to a restaurant I'd scoped out on the internet, and had a really excellent lunch with kir à la framboise and pot lyonnais.


(La Coquette, if you're interested; highly recommended.  Really nowhere near as formica-heavy as it looks on the photos...)

Another short but very sharp rain shower put me off heading over to further heights/viewpoints, so change of plan to take in the presqu-île.  This is, according to my guidebook, the top of the Lyon equivalent of Oxford Street.  (I don't think the writers of the guidebook have visited Oxford Street recently.  Or, possibly, ever.  But Rue de la République does have branches of most of the major chains further into town.)


The Palais de Commerce - most large French towns have one of these, but this one is particularly spectacular.



There was a demonstration, or manifestation as the French have it; this seems to fit pretty well, because with all the whistles and the flags and the police escort, it also feels like a bit of performance art.  This was a particularly fine-sounding one, so I stopped to watch.  Which noble cause was being fought for?  World peace? Education? Liberté, égalité et fraternité?


Ah, they're against the ban on plain cigarette packs and closed displays.  Ho hum.  But I do like the way they finish with "No to EU Directives", which is at least pretty comprehensive and covers all bases!

One of the (many) things I love about the French is their entirely unimaginative way of naming bars and cafés; when you're casting around for somewhere to sell you stamps for your postcards, having incomprehensibly lost one of the US stamps, seeing this


around the corner is great.  Where the Café des Postes, télégraphes et téléphones is, there shall be the post office also.  And indeed there was.


Likewise, I wasn't sure whether this was the Place des Terraux or the Place des Jacobins, but helpfully, there's the Café des Jacobins on the right...  Likewise, you always know what you're going to get at the Bar des Sports in a small town (lots of blokes, big screen, Baby-foot, possibly pool table, cheap drinks and a high tolerance of horseplay).


Made a quick trip to Fnac; I do love a Fnac shop.  This one is particularly fine.


So many of the French singer-songwriters I like haven't produced anything new in the last few years; thankfully Jacques Higelin is still going strong...

One last picture, of the huge and (on that day) rather desolate Place Bellecour; Louis XIV lords (kings?) it over the square...


At that point the heavens opened.  I ducked into a bar for a pre-dinner drink, and then home via the butchers - veal chop, bearnaise sauce and Provençal green beans. Heaven.  Particularly because I found Un dîner presque parfait which was just lovely - I gather there are similar formats on UK TV but I never have time to catch up with that sort of thing!

Before dinner, I met my lovely landlord, finally - had to pay him for the rent, and while I'd already pretty much settled in, it being the third day of five, he had another couple of hints and tips.  One of the first things he spotted was my knitting:


Apparently his wife's a knitter, and he was asking about good UK yarn sites for British wools.  I scribbled down some names and URLs including the Ravelry one, just in case!