15.10.2016 - 15.10.2016
Saturday lived up to its promise as the best day we'd had in Lyon weather wise. We had wanted to take the funicular to Fourvière to visit the Basilica and the Roman ruins, and waiting until Saturday certainly paid off. The views from the top of the hill were magnificent. The Basilica of Notre Dame de Fouvière is young in Lyon's terms, constructed between 1872 and 1884. Visible from all over the city, the gleaming white Basilica rises like a fortress on Fourvière Hill, with slender turrets on its four corners and crenellated walls. A gilded statue of the Virgin surmounts the bell tower. This relatively austere exterior contrasts with the richly decorated interior, with gilt, marble work, stained glass windows, and colored mosaics covering virtually every surface. Strangely though, it wasn't overwhelming, despite being designed to be a demonstration of the church's wealth and power.
The Basilica was built on the site of an ancient Roman forum, and the Théâtre Romains were our next stop. From the relatively recently constructed Basilica, we found ourselves in a setting built between 17 and 15 BC by the order of Augustus. This was my first experience of Roman ruins on this scale, and yet again, as so often on this journey, I found myself immersed in history. I confess i may have recited some of the Sermon on the Mount as reported in Life of Brian. Blessed are the cheese makers!
Given the road back to the old town was downhill, we decided to walk in the sunshine. Boy, was I glad we hadn't walked up! As we were almost at the bottom of the hill we were passed in the opposite direction by a couple of fellow travellers. I heard one remark to the other "I don't know how I let you talk me into this". They only took a few more steps before concluding that there must be an alternative. I wonder if they found the funicular!
Our stomachs indicating it was lunchtime, we set about finding somewhere suitable from the many and varied places on offer. We settled on La Traboule, which seemed to have old school tables and chairs (actually from a school, not "old school" in the hipster sense of the words!). We were given a complimentary aperitif, which none of us recognised. Well, I recognised it as cough medicine, but I don't imagine that's what it really was! Lunch over, it was time for a quick stop at the second of Lyon's two Antoine et Lili stores, before heading to the Saône for our river cruise.
Now, some of you know there is a term for people who go out of their way to be annoying at public events. It doesn't seem to matter where you go, there are members of this extended clan just waiting to make their presence felt, oblivious to the needs of those around them, who generally only want quiet enjoyment of the proceedings. Lo and behold, the queen of the FKs was on our cruise! The boat had an upper and a lower deck, and given the weather the top deck was in demand. After we'd been moving a short time, a young guy came upstairs looking for somewhere to sit. He headed right to the front of the boat, hung around there for a while and then walked back down the aisle shaking his head at his as yet unseen companion. That wasn't good enough for her! She led the way the second time, and they positioned themselves again at the front, obscuring the view of those fortunate enough to have found themselves in prime viewing position. All they could see was a couple of bums, belonging to a couple of bums! One of the boat staff asked them to move - nothing doing. Then an announcement came over the loudspeaker suggesting that they take some photos and then allow other people to see. The Queen folded her arms and it looked for all the world like she was there for the duration. The young guy had given up by this stage and gone downstairs. There appeared to be some discussion between the front seat passengers and Her Majesty, and she finally, ever so slowly, gathered her things and made her way down the aisle. They are everywhere, those FKs; you must be on your guard!
By the time we disembarked, it was time to go home and pack, and then head out for our last dinner in Lyon. I found a note from Isabelle explaining that the pâtisserie was closed at the weekend, but she had bought me a specialty item originating from Roanne (the town of her birth), la praluline. This buttery brioche was studded with pink almond and walnut praline, and would see me through my train journey the next day, and beyond. I'd been travelling with Barbara and Chris for two weeks, and we'd had such wonderful adventures. They were heading home on Monday, but for me there were still new destinations to explore. Next stop: Nice!