Paris-Lyon- Thursday, March 24th 2005
First we went inside the Cathedral St Jean. This church was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. The front faces away from the river and into a tiny, quiet plaza were we sat for a few minutes and contemplated the lovely facade. Inside, there's a fascinating astronomical clock which shows religious feast days until 2019. I've never seen anything like it.
This morning, still not feeling well, I tried to take it easy but also wanted to see some of Lyon. After breakfast, we walked with Tracy over to the outdoor market that borders the Soane river on the Quai St. Antoine. Weekdays it's relatively small, only about 3 blocks long. But on weekends, it apparently swells to at least double. Tracy left us to go to work for a while and we walked across the river to check out some of the sights in the old town.
From the plaza in front of St. Jean, we walked about a block to our left to the funicular that goes up the steep hill. There are two funiculars, one that goes up to the basilica, and one that goes up to the roman ruins. We were able to use our metro tickets from the carnet we'd purchased the day before and chose to visit the basilica first. The ride took all of about one minute and let us off right in front, at the Plaza de Fourviere.
The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere is considered by some to look like an upside down elephant. A lot of people think it's hideous, but I rather liked it. It was built around the same time as Sacre Couer in Paris (late 19th century) and shares a lot of similarities of architecture. My guidebook calls it "gaudy mock-Byzantine-a riot of turrets and crenelations, marble and mosaic". Yes, the inside is a sensory overloaded mass of gilded mosaics, but it's still fantastic. I don't think the exterior is as graceful as Sacre Couer however. The view from behind the church is phenomenal and looks out over Lyon for miles. You can really get a feel for how big the city is from up there (it's the second largest city in France).
From the church, we checked the map, and then walked about three blocks over to the Roman ruins, which consist of two amphitheaters, one large, one small, built around 15 BC. The big one sat about 30,000 people and is still used for performances today. Before exploring the ruins, we went into the Musee de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine. This is a wonderful museum built right into the hillside next to the amphitheater. It's filled with Roman antiquities including jewelry, coins, statues, and a couple complete mosaic tile floors which reminded me of Pompeii. What's really nice is that all of the artifact descriptions are in both French and English. The museum is free on Thursdays, so we got lucky, but I think the normal entrance is only 3 euros or so. We were starting to get tired so we walked down through the ruins, down the hill, and back to the market which was just shutting down for the day. Unfortunately, neither one of us had an appetite, so we couldn't go to any of the restaurants for lunch I'd so carefully researched. Instead, we bought some fruit from the vendors who were closing up and went back to the apartment.
This is a couture dress made of lobster shells, lentils, and tuille. The pieces of lobster tails look like petals and the laquered lentils looked like little pebbles. This was in a shop window around the corner from Tracey's apartment.