It’s a city known as a “tectonic hotspot” but the recent earthquake scare in New Zealand and threat of tsunami, (after all, I didn’t want any earth quake scares in my travels), made me make the last minute decision to divert my journey to Lyon instead for a few days to explore the city and who knows, maybe even bump into my Twitter friend Celine Schillinger (@CelineSchill)
Unfortunately, there was no train direct from Vezelay. I could have taken a night bus and then a train from Dijon which would have taken about 5 hours; take a bus which would have taken about 8 hours; drive a car which would have taken about 2 hours 42 minutes.
All these options would have taken me so much time so I decided to do it with the click of a mouse.
It took mere seconds. Voilà, I was at Lyon!
You gotta love virtual travelling!
But First Aerial View of Lyon
The one thing that strikes me about this city are the red terracotta roof tiles everywhere!
At Lyon, I did what I usually do (when I’m travelling physically) and that is, head for the OLDEST part of town.
The historical centre where there’s a hub of museums, tourist information centre, galleries and shops – usually all for tourists but I don’t mind this. I find when I travel, I always start here and emanate for exploratory journeys outwards.
The walk through Lyon was delightful and luckily, I learned my lesson with having the right footwear so I could walk with relative ease. I noticed the weather had turned cool (we were in the height of summer in Vèzelay during the summer solstice) however, here in Lyon, people were wandering about with jackets and large scarves.
Go figure! 😉
I had little knowledge of this city but I came upon a door which was intrigued me. I pushed it open and it led into a passageway that piqued my interest. I kept walking because the passage way led to quiet courtyards and if you continued the path, they led through more dark passage ways and up stairs.
As I walked out into the courtyards, the pigeons would coo and fly away and I’d hear a clang of a pot in some kitchen but otherwise it was really quiet.
Ah! So these were the passage ways that people in the silk industry used to use in the old days to transport their precious materials away from the dirty streets!
So this town has a history of silk weaving then!
My mobile phone pinged. (In real life it wouldn’t as I have turned the notifications off).
I received a notification from my friend Celine! She seems to think I’m still back in Australia?
Maybe my tweet wasn’t clear enough that I’m actually IN LYON – somewhere lost in the traboules.
By my recokoning, I think I’m somewhere on Rue Francois Dauphin and I can hear a church bell so I think I’m near a church somewhere…
Celine sends me this video to check out about the history of the silk weavers. It’s amazing to think that they STILL use the traditional looks to make the most beautiful silk fabrics with intricate designs and they have a LACK of people knowledgeable on how to use these looms.
They need help.
So I make a quick telephone call to mum. She’ll sort them out.
My mum agrees to meet me at the Maison Des Canuts, the museum of the silk weavers.
She’ll be there momentarily because my dad has to help her click the mouse button (she’s never used the computer before but BOY, does she know her way around the LOOM!).
She’s more than happy to get out of the house as all this time in lockdown was doing her head in and she’s just thankful that someone needs her weaving skills.
She thought that no one would want to learn how to weave nowadays so my telephone call was such a wonderful surprise. Yes, she WILL meet me at the museum and YES, she will be more than happy to share her knowledge and YES, she does speak French fluently* (No she doesn’t but as this is fictional piece of writing, she’s now miraculously fluent but like me, she has trouble with her ‘r’s’)
My dad enquires where she’s headed off.
“Lyon! Gallia!” she yells back to him.
“Ah! Very good,” he says, “Enjoy!” and he goes back to his watercolours.
Instantly, my mother arrives at the Museum and while she is taken into the area with the traditional looms, I decide to explore the museum and buy a silk scarf from the little shop.
Around lunch time, I was getting a bit peckish and I peaked into the work area and there was mum at the loom working feverishly copying the most beautiful designs from the 18th century designs.
“Ma!” I yelled out to her (in Greek), “Pinao!” (translates to ‘j’ai faim!’ or ‘I’m hungry!) Do you want to come with me to find something to eat? We’ll go to a bouchon!”
“No, you go ahead! I’d like to stay here for a while. Once I finish this, I’ll head straight back home because your father will be wondering where I am and I’ll need to make dinner!” she responds.
“You do realise that the designs you’re doing will take YEARS! You could be here a long time! If you’re only doing about a couple of centimetres every day, a roll of fabric will take a while!”
“Silly girl,” this is your fictional story. “It’s all made up. I can take as much or as little time as I like. Look! I’ve nearly finished!”
She holds out the piece of silk she weaved for me to see.
“Besides,” she adds. “I can’t remember if I’ve turned off the stove, so I need to get back. You go an enjoy yourself and I’ll see you next Sunday for a roast lunch. Adeio!”
Right. Off I go to the bouchon to try out the traditional Lyonnais fare – hearty meals.
I can’t eat anything offal, no heads of calves, sheep, no brains, blood pudding, or any livers, or kidneys (brings up bad childhood memories) so I order the Quenelle de Brochet Sauce Langoustine – with the quenelle being Lyonnais. It looks delicious. (I think I’m going to make this at home in Australia in mid winter!)
One of the big realisations for me while exploring this fictional series was just how DIFFERENT all the places (even regions that are close by to each other) are to each other. There is so much to see and do and even though I’m exploring these places virtually, it makes you appreciate the diversity and differences of each place. When I usually travel (in real life), I only get to see the big places, big cities and yet, it makes you realise that you can have ALL THE TIME in the world and you still wouldn’t see ‘one poompteeth’ of the place.
If I was in Lyon, I could have spent at least 5 days there to really see the city and surrounds – the Roman ruins of Fourvière and the Museum of Fine Arts. I also would have loved to have explored the new suburb of Confluence, situated at the confluence of the two rivers of the town. The Museum there would have been an absolute must for me to spend the day in.