Monday, 6 September 2010

Fingerprinted in Lyon

Fingerprint Lyon, home of Interpol, is where I had to go last week to be fingerprinted. What terrible crime had I committed, that I should be subjected to such treatment? Well it is simple, my passport had expired and I needed a new one. It may be shocking to the Brits, but the Dutch (in accordance with new European legislation so they say) insist on a set of fingerprints to get a new passport. No more “shove the old one in an envelope and a couple of weeks later you get a new one”, no you have to go in person and have your prints taken. I had visions of leaving the Consulate with black fingertips, but it is all much more modern than that, a simple scan was all that was required.

Well if you have to go all the way to Lyon, it pays to make a day of it. Out came the Michelin guide and other information we have and our day was planned. We took the train from Mâcon into Lyon, much more convenient than the car, but a little on the expensive side. When we arrived we bought a one day travel card and we intended to use it to maximum effect, metro, trams, funicular, buses, we used them all moving from one end of Lyon to the other.

Musée Urbaine Tony Garnier Our theme for the day was paintings and our first port of call was the Musée urbain Tony Garnier, reputedly the largest open-air art gallery in the world, dedicated to one of Lyon’s leading architects. The museum is in fact 24 huge paintings drawn on blocks of flats he designed and built in the 1920s and they cover his work in Lyon. The last few paintings are the more interesting in my opinion as they depict various artists views of an ideal city. The one I am showing here is the ideal Mexican city.

The idea of painting on buildings has really caught on in Lyon and the surrounding areas have also taken on this spectacular idea with great gusto. What amazed me was that on all the painted buildings we saw, there was no graffiti, quite unusual for a city the size of Lyon.

La Fresque de Lyonais Another huge painting (twice the size of anything in the Musée urbain Tony Garnier) was entitled La Fresque de Lyonais in the Croix Russe area, it covered the back side of a building seven stories high and seven windows or balconies wide. At each window or on each balcony is a famous Lyonais including St Exupery with Le Petit Prince, the Lumieres brothers (among the earliest film makers in history), André-Marie Ampère of electricity fame and more recent people like Abbé Pierre the founder of Emmaus and Bernard Pivot a journalist and TV interviewer. The photo I have chosen shows some real and painted by-passers in front of the imaginary shop fronts and building entrance.

Roman Theatres Lyon The rest of our day was taken up with visiting the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, worth it for the trip in the funicular railway and the view of the city, but the Basilique itself is a bit over the top. Just round the corner was another gem, the Roman theatres. We’ve seen many in our travels around the UK, France, Spain and Italy, but this was truly exceptional. Then into the old town with the St Jean Cathedral (and ex-Taizé organ) and the traboules, a real must for anyone visiting Lyon is to zigzag through the old town using these secret covered walkways through the buildings leading to some very pretty hidden courtyards. In fact we just generally enjoyed our day in the sun soaking up the atmosphere of a very special city.

We won’t be waiting until our passports run out again to revisit, there is still too much to be seen.

La Tuilerie Website.

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