La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the category “Art/history/culture”

Quack quack !

Remember this post ? Well, I spotto-ed a little exhibition by this artist, and took a look last week.


It’s small and bright, with pieces ranging from a collage to a two-metre high totem pole. The graffiti nature of the ducks is evident, with road signs and small slabs of concrete used as bases for a few of the works. If you want to grab a piece of Lyonnais street art, or just a few photos, t-shirts or badges, the exhibition in on until March 23 at U and I Gallery in the 2eme.

Bisous !


Le Tour comes to town

France is gripped by Tour fever, as is normal for July. Even we have been gripped, as Le Tour came through Lyon last weekend. The riders arrived on Saturday afternoon at Gerland, then departed on Sunday morning from Givors. We headed a little further south to get a good look on Sunday morning.PicMonkey Collage Le Tour 1

We went to Beaurepaire, a town in the Isère department of the Rhône-Alpes. The riders were scheduled to head through around 11:30 but we arrived super early, at 9:15. Why ? To see La Caravane ! La Caravane is the vehicular procession of sponsors that proceeds the riders by nearly two hours. It’s very animated, with all sponsers vocally publicising their products and throwing all sorts of samples out the windows. You have to be careful not to lose an eye from a packet of washing detergent though, or to be knocked over by a grandpa trying to catch a cordial sample !

PicMonkey Collage Le Tour 2

We had a good spot on the side of the road, and there weren’t too many people (except for the crazy grandpa !) around us. After the caravan passed, we were kept entertained by people watching, team and media cars driving through, trying to catch the attention of the Orica GreenEDGE cars (1 out of 3 noticed us and our little flags !) and eating our Haribo lollies. Then the riders arrived. The first few zipped through, then came Thomas Voeckler who nearly fell off because he was too busy looking behind him, then the rest. We spotted Froome and the chou-chou Rolland thanks to their jerseys, had time for a quick ‘Allez Cadel !’ and they were gone, a fast moving snake of lean, lithe, stupidly fit lycra-clad men. Not even time for a photo – maybe next year.

Vive le Tour !

Bisous !

Curiosities, Treasures and other Marvels of Lyon

I got a great book for Christmas, called Curiosités, Trésors et autre Merveilles de Lyon. As the title suggests, it’s full of the particularities  that make Lyon Lyon – the pink praline and green cushions, the painted walls, the personalities, the church on the hill, the Festival of Lights, the traboules, Guignol, the history of the silkworkers and, of course, the food.

My latest guide book !

My latest guide book !

It’s given me lots of ideas – new places to explore, landmarks to find and food to try. All good fodder for La Vie à Lyon, so stay tuned !

Except for Guignol, sorry. He’s one of the creepiest puppets I’ve ever seen; you’ll have to find out about him yourself !

Bisous !

Collaboration and resistance

Sim and I visited the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, a museum that we’ve been wanting to visit for a while now but which has been closed for renovations. I must admit, I was worried. The cruelty with which humans can treat each other upsets me very quickly, and visiting a museum dedicated to one of the bleakest moments in 20th century wartime France was nerve wracking.

PicMonkey Collage CHRD

An unprepared France fell very quickly to Nazi Germany in WW2. When Paris was invaded, the government fled to Bordeaux and fluffed around flapping their hands, having no idea what to do. They called on WW1 hero, Marshal Philippe Pétain for help, and within days had surrendered to Germany. Marshal Pétain became the head of the puppet government, and was based in the town of Vichy.

Occupied France in 1940 and Lyon's town hall.

Occupied France in 1940 and Lyon’s town hall.

Of course, not all the Frenchies were happy with this turn of events. The day after Marshal Pétain announced the armistice with Germany, General Charles de Gaulle, who had been exiled to London, called on the French people to resist. To keep fighting. To not give up. Vive la France ! And La Résistance was born.

De Gaulle calling for the French people to resist, Vive la France, and Pétain overlooking the wireless playing de Gaulle's speech.

De Gaulle calling for the French people to resist, Vive la France, and Pétain overlooking the wireless playing de Gaulle’s speech.

I can’t imagine just how horrible Vichy France must’ve been. People who were into the Vichy regime, including the government, were called collaborators. They had their own secret police, la Milice, as well as the Gestapo. Collaborator citizens happily dobbed in their Jewish neighbours for deportation to concentration and death camps.

As disgusting as the collaborators were, the resistants were the opposite. They hid their Jewish neighbours in their own homes, forged new identities for them and sabotaged as much of the Vichy infrastructure as they could. They were the Secret Army. Jean Moulin is perhaps the most well known Résistance fighter; he had the job of unifying all the different Résistance groups. Caught and tourtured in Lyon by Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, Moulin died in 1943. The face of the secret movement; his ashes lie in the Panthéon.

Jean Moulin. One of the most well-known images in France.

Jean Moulin. One of the most well-known images in France.

These days, the names Charles de Gaulle and Jean Moulin are scattered about everywhere (Université Jean Moulin -Lyon 3, Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, to name just two), and all around Lyon (and France, I’m sure) there are little memorial plaques and statues for those killed either during their deportation or fighting for the Résistance. The deputy mayor of Oullins died during his deportation, and is remembered with a bust statue and a garden down the street. People want to remember and honour the resistants and the deportees rather than Vichy France and the names associated with it, and this is the sense we left the museum with.

I do wonder what Sim’s grandparents did, St Sym being a drop point for Secret Army supplies in 1944, but I don’t really know how to ask them.

Bisous !

Halle Tony Garnier

The Halle Tony Garnier has been on my mind all week ! For our Wednesday art class, Angela and I had to give an ‘artist or engineer’ presentation on Tony Garnier , and on Friday night Stef and I saw The Black Keys there !


Halle Tony Garnier was built in the early 1900s, as a stable / abattoir / meat market in the quartier of La Mouche, which is now known as Gerland. It has been recognised and protected as an historical monument since 1975, and today it’s the third largest concert and exhibition hall in France. It is immense and amazing, especially with the interior metallic frame all lit up !

Bisous !

Excursion time

Our subject La Vie Artistiqe has become a whole lot better (and easier to stay awake in !) since our topic changed from analysing 19th century artworks to typograpy and advertising throughout the 20th century. We went on a little excursion last week, to the Musée de l’Imprimarie to check out how printing has evolved over the centuries.

Some of the younger students were excited about the old Macintosh Classics (I just felt like I was back in Year 9 computer class) but the highlight for me was the page from the Gutenberg Bible – I’ve never seen one !

Well worth a sticky beak if you’re in the area !

Bisous !

Cluny Abbey

Sim and I visited Cluny Abbey, in Bourgogne, last summer. The abbey itself was founded in 910, and throughout the centuries has gone from being the  headquarters of the largest monastic order of western Europe, to being attacked, dismantled and sold and, finally, restored.

The town of Cluny, population around 5 000, is built in and around the abbey. Today’s mairie is yesterday’s ‘Palace of Abbot Jacques d’Amboise’, where important visitors stayed. The less important stayed in the 11th century guest house, which is now the art gallery. The abbey gardens are now the town’s park.

The abbot’s palace / Cluny Mairie.


 You can just wander around the abbey, of course – it is a town – but if you want to visit the historical buildings within, you need to buy a ticket (8€ or less). 


 We can go when you come to visit! Bisous!

Les Enfoirés – nicer than they sound

There’s a charity in France called Les Restaurants du Coeur. It was started in the mid-eighties by a comedien called Coluche and it feeds the needy.

Coluche and his charity.

Each year, there’s huge concerts put on by a mix of celebrities – singers, comediens, groups, athletes and our very own Tina Arena. Collectively, they’re known as ‘Les Enfoirés’ or ‘The Bas***ds.’ All funds raised from the concerts and associated merchandise go to the charity. This year, the concerts are in Lyon and there’s 7 of them.

This song is #3 on the charts at the moment. Have a listen – you’ll know it – and see how many people you recognise. Spotto Tina, and the coach of the French football team playing conductor!

Tickets aren’t numbered for the concerts. Seats are first in, best dressed so les Lyonnaises can be seen lining up outside Halle Tony Garnier from early in the morning for an 8pm show (it’s true – Sim and I saw the line en route to the physio). It’s -6° today, and only getting colder!

Perhaps it’s to give a little taste of life for the less fortunate on days like today.


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