14 October 2011

a fine day in Vieux Lyon

During the last weekend of September, we had a visitor from England staying with us. It was sunny and very warm; perfect time to walk around in Old Town Lyon

The exterior walls of Eglise Saint-Jean had been completely cleaned, and the cathedral looked like a young woman who just came out of the shower -- fresh and happy to have all that yucky stuff scrubbed off.

When we see these gothic churches, they are typically wearing grey skin, dotted with decades' accumulation of black dirt. That's how we know these buildings, and when we see them with all the dirt washed off, it almost feels "not quite right", as if not gothic enough.

But old buildings weren't always old. What a privilege to see them like this, the way people saw them when they were first built. I had a sensation, as I admired the facade of this beautiful (and clean) church, that I was sharing the joy and awe with the people who stood there when it was dedicated back in 1476.

Lovely weather means lunch outside. Soon all the terrace tables at cafes and bouchons were filled with people enjoying food, wine, sunshine and conversations.

Alas, there was plenty of cigarette smoke there, too. So my friend and I opted instead for a brioche and a crêpe, and ate them as we walked.

I had always wondered why Rue du Bœuf was called that: The Bull Street. It's such an unusual name for a street. Did this street get its name because this statue was here? Or was the statue erected to reflect the street name? Which came first: the statue or the name? It only took a click on the mouse to find out the answer (the former).

Now I'm curious as to why it's a bull. This bull is placed in the part of the building where we normally find a niche adorned with statues of saints or otherwise important people. So who put a bull up there?

I'm sure something has been written about that by someone somewhere, but I can only Google in English (unfortunately my French is too poor to do any type of in-depth research), and I have not found anything.



La Tour Rose is one of the most famous Vieux Lyon landmarks. Part of this building is a hotel, and there is a traboule here that's open to public.

I wonder what function this tower used to serve. The staircase it houses doesn't lead anywhere but the room at the top. It sure looks like a watchtower of some kind, but this -- in the middle of a town -- seems to me like a strange location to have a watchtower. Perhaps this used to be a good vantage point to watch the traffic on the Saône, before the taller buildings were built along the river? 



Since that lovely weekend, the weather in Lyon has gotten rather cold rather fast, and we now have heat in our apartment. I need to get out more often with my camera before it gets too cold to walk around. 


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