Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trip Report - France 2011 - October 5th - Vienne, St Roman en Gal, Lyons

The ship left Tain L'Hermitage at 2am. This was the first night sailing.  In the morning we docked at Vienne. After breakfast we left the ship to visit Vienne on foot.  We walked past the Cathedral and viewed the Temple of Augustus and Livie,

Temple d'Auguste et de Livie

Then we took the bus across the river to the Saint Romaine en Gal museum. This was constructed on the site of part of an old Roman settlement that was discovered in 1967 when they started work on a new school.  The museum held a wealth of ancient mosaics and had many models showing how life had been in the old settlement.  Outside the museum there were the remains of a Roman roadway and the outlines of buildings.

Part of a Roman mosaic

The next stop was part of the ruins of the Gier Roman acqueducts at Chaponost
Part of Roman Aqueduct at Chaponost
Considering the original scale of the acqueduct  (perhaps 85 km long ) not much remains. According to what I've read, when the Romans left they took most of their skilled technicians and administrators. Populations in former settlements dwindled, and with no central government to prevent it, Roman structures were plundered to be used as stone quarries; iron clamps and nails were removed and reforged; lead pipes were removed from the water systems; and graves were robbed for their pottery and kitchen utensils.  Some of the structures that remain were saved because they were useful: for example, an old villa might have a church built on it, or a coliseum might have become a fortress, or a theater might continue to be used as a theater.

From Chaponost we went to Lyon. The bus let us off near the Basilica Fourviere, which we visited, and then we had lunch at Restaurant Fourviere.  The restaurant had a magnificent view, but the food was so-so, and service was so slow that by the time the first course arrived I had already filled up on bread.
Salad Lyonnaise
After lunch we took a branch of the funicular down to the Old City.
Funicular cable wheel
Funicular car at bottom

In the old town we visited the St. Jean Cathedral, which had recently been cleaned. Workmen were still patching the outside. 

Patching St. Jean
Something that I did not know* until I started looking for links to Saint Jean Cathedral, was that there is a new gargolyle on the Saint Jean Cathedrul which was put up in honor of the Muslim worker, Ahmed Benzizine, who has spent nearly 40 years helping to restore the ancient cathedral. Next to the gargoyle is the inscription "God is Great" in both French and Arabic. While it is an old tradition to immortalize workers and benefactors as statues and gargoyles on church buildings, the fact that this one portrays a Muslim and part of the inscription is in Arabic has excited some controversy.

Further on, we traversed the Long Traboule, one of many covered passages in the old city.
Looking up

Interior stairs

After some more walking the group separated so that we could travel on our own or return to the boat by bus.  Harry and I walked east across the river to where the boat was now docked. It was a long walk, because there was much to see, and there was a detour because Harry wanted to get a picture of the Mistral from across the river.
A puppet watches in the Old Town
Harry takes a picture of an outdoor sculpture near the river
Although Lyon is famous for its Festival of Lights in December, the ordinary night views were still spectacular, and after dinner the ship departed the city to sail up the Rhone past lighted buildings.

*Possibly I was not paying attention. This happens.

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