31 March 2012

Did You Know...? Part 6

The ancient theater accommodated 11,000 spectators.
The city of Lyon was founded in the year 43 BC by the Roman politician Lucius Munatius Plancus.  Early on it was given the name Lugdunum and, except for Rome, was the most important city in the western part of the Roman Empire for many years.

Several emperors played a significant role in the development and growth of Lugdunum: Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula and Nero, to name a few.

Though the city would eventually spread to what's known today as the presqu'île (the strip of land between the Saône and Rhône rivers) and beyond, the hub of activity was located at the top of the Fourvière hill where a theater, odeon, houses, and public baths had been built.

The hillside that hides the Gallo-Roman museum.
What's left of these ancient stone structures, including the theater and odeon, are open year round to visitors, and the Gallo-Roman museum, half-buried into the hillside, offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like for a citizen of Lugdunum more than 2,000 years ago.

28 March 2012

A Gastronomic History of Lyon

The musée Gadagne, also known as the Historical Museum of Lyon, is dedicating its first temporary exhibit to the one art form which has, perhaps more than any other, propelled Lyon to worldwide fame and recognition — gastronomy.

The exhibit, titled Gourmandises! A History of Gastronomy in Lyon, runs until April 29th and takes a chronological look at the literature, personalities and traditional foods that helped establish Lyon's reputation as the gastronomic capital of the world.

From it's earliest beginnings to today's newest trends, this exhibit maps out a rich and unique culinary legacy that is still very much alive in Lyon today, a creative commitment which no doubt influenced UNESCO to add the traditional French meal to the world's intangible heritage list.

If you won't make it to the exhibit but want to know more, you can download the English version of the mini visit guide here.

And if you can make it, remember that the Gadagne museums (there's also a museum dedicated to the puppets of the world) are open Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

20 March 2012

Lyon Trash Collectors on Strike

Since my wife and I first went Gaga (ok, Gaga light — we still scan headlines and read the occasional news story), we are often among the last to know about current events, even in our own city.

Still, we knew something was up last week when the trash cans in our building courtyard and around the neighborhood began to overflow. A quick Google search revealed why: the sanitation collectors (ébouers) in the city of Lyon have been striking for more than one week now. And sources say they are not yet ready to call it quits.

The purpose of the strike is to protest a plan by city authorities to privatize the trash collection. The ébouers are also demanding to have Saturdays off.

When the public transportation workers strike, surface traffic backs up, annoying commuters for a few days. At least they have a good excuse to fall back on if they arrive late for work. Once the strike is over, however, congestion on streets and highways generally eases up immediately.

But a strike by the ébouers touches closer to home. Trash piles up along city streets and sidewalks. It smells and looks bad, not to mention the potential health risks involved.

Unless an agreement is reached soon, trash piles throughout the city (like the one pictured above) will continue to mushroom and invade larger portions of our public spaces.

This is nothing compared to what people in developing countries experience on a day-to-day basis. I know because I've lived there.

But it does get me to wondering: how long are we willing to let this go on before finding a solution that serves everyone?

13 March 2012

Boots Over the Grande Rue

These boots have been stuck on a wire 30 feet above the street for so long that they've blended into the urban landscape. 

As a friend of mine would say: "Why would anybody want to do that?"

10 March 2012

A Weekend In Lyon

If Lyon is your destination or simply one stop on a multi-city tour through France or the rest of Europe, there's a website you might want to know about: monweekendalyon.com.

An extension of Lyon's office of tourism, monweekendalyon is a comprehensive resource for visitors (even locals!) coming for a short stay. For now the site is available only in French (get your dictionaries out), but in it you'll find up-to-date information about current and upcoming cultural events such as concerts, conferences and museum expositions.

There are also ideas for restaurants, movies and sporting activities. And if night life is your thing, there's a listing of pubs, clubs and discos to keep you partying and dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

La Grande roue, seen from Fourvière.

What I also like about the site is that it not only gives you ideas for what's happening now or in the near future, but what you might miss out on if you don't hurry up. 

For example, you have until Thursday March 15th to ride the 55-meter high wheel at Place Bellecour. I've never done it myself, but I'm told the views of the city, including Fourvière hill, are quite impressive from that height.

There's also a "springtime of poets" event at the Fine Arts Museum (finishing this weekend) and an exposition at the Military History Museum of Lyon (on for another three weeks).

You can even subscribe to the monweekendalyon newsletter and get four coup de coeur weekend activity ideas emailed to you every week.  And if you want to visit them at their Facebook page, you can do that here.

There's only one thing left to say: enjoy your weekend visit to Lyon.