Friday, January 16, 2009

In Lyon, all the streets lead . . .

to yet another small square. A drivers nightmare, the old centre of Lyon is a maze of narrow streets with squares interspersed roughly every 4 -5 blocks. Not all however are straight and so it is easy to lose your way through the cobblestoned back streets that do not appear, let alone be named on the tourist maps.

This morning we caught the Metro to L'Office de Tourisme in Place Bellacour to book a tour on the open bus tour - only to be told that all the main tours (including the river cruise) are closed until the end of January. So be it - we will have to use the shanks pony here!

From here we walked to the Textile Museum and Decorative Arts Museum. These two museums housed in the same enclosed courtyard of buildings were a bit of a surprise. They showcased not only the history of textile making in Lyon and France, but also had textiles dating back to the time barely known from Egypt, Syria and Iran including parts of everyday clothing and ceremonial wear as well as household furnishings. They also had a temporary exhibit on paper pattern-making that included a large range of paper gowns. It was hard to believe that these were paper! No photos were allowed, so I can't show you how spectacular they were - but think of a rich brocade, or the sheerest pleated silk and you can just start to get the idea. Many of them were adorned with beads and threads - again, all paper.

The Decorative Arts Museum displays the trappings of life in the 18th Century all set in time and place in the mansion of rich merchant. Many of the fixtures and fittings however, date back to periods much earlier. This building was reminiscent (for me at least) of many of the ornate National Trust Homes of England and in particular of Leeds Castle. The tapestries were magnificent as were the chadeliers and the huge covered candle chandelier that provided light to all four levels of the staircase. And then there was the china, and the silverware, and the cutlery, and the furniture, and and and!

Then off we went to the Place de Ampere where we stopped at a small corner boulangerie (bakery) where in my faltering French I ordered "Un quiche aubergine, courgette et tomato, un bagette fromage et poulet" only to stumble when in quick french the baker asked if I would like them heated. On explaining that my french was poor, he commented that it was very good, even if it was in a funny accent! We told him we were from Australie at which he became very exicted and in perfect English he said how he would love to visit one day. So out came another card and an invitation to visit us!! We then rounded out the order with "un palmier et un tarte frangipane s'il vous plait". Sat in the square under the watchful eye of Andre-Marie Ampere himself!

Then around to a beautiful little parish church - Abbeye d'Ainay - simple but lovely and very cold as it too is all stone. The double doors that you need to go in through are no to help keep the cold out, but how do they cope with the cold inside??

After all the stairs at the Roman ruins yesterday, my legs are killing me so I opt to go back to the hotel for a little R&R (rest & recovery) while Michael heads out on foot for the Musee des miniatures et decors de cinema.
This museum is dedicated to the works of that master of design
and Special Effects, Dan Ohlmann, but also to other designers of this craft. Ohlmann, who started life as a cabinet maker and sculptor, then later as an interior designer. He soon discovered, he enjoyed designing miniature sets in lieu of the life size sets.
Through his eventual contacts in theatre, Ohlmann eventually lent his expertise to movies such as "The Fifth Element" (Bruce Willis) and "The Perfumery" (Dustin Hoffman), to name a couple. Hence, over the past twenty years or so, Ohlmann has dedicated his time to creating minature settings primarily for the movie industry.
The museum is segmented into four levels; that is, a three storey building, with a storey dedicated to a particular genre. I did say four levels; well, the exhibition commences in the basement!
It's in the basement where the life size sets, created by Ohlmann, for the movie "The Perfumery" have been recreated. These are most impressive, which certainly attest to the work of a master craftsman. The successive levels display other works of Ohlmann, however, it is the contributions of other craftspeople wich are showcased. Oh, and while I made my way throughout the museum, my exploration was accompanied by the music of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. The soundtrack was kindly provided by the museum!
Tonight we return to the Rue Victor Hugo and to the Brasserie le Victor Hugo for dinner. Choices:
Appertif: Pastis 51 (thanks Fliss!)
Gratin de pomme de terre au Reblochon et son assiette de charcuterie (Potato Gratin with a salad of cold meats) Michael
Quenelle de brochet, sauce crustacees (Pike quenelle with crayfish sauce) Maria
Profiteroles, Chocolate sauce - Michael
Creme Brulee - Maria.
We argue over who had the nicer meal!

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