Tuesday, July 5, 2016

France: Impressions of Lyon

I fell in love with this city at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saône. It has an interesting historic district, Roman ruins, a silk district, trompe l'oeil walls, a culture of gastronomy and best of all, a wonderful market.

This is the Basilique de Fourvière, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Located on a hill overlooking the city of Lyon, it dates from 1872.

Below, a view of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

This pedestrian bridge over the Saône from the west side of Lyon across to Presqu'île, the piece of land between the Saône and the Rhone is the Passerelle du Palais de Justice

Below, 3 photos of a traboule or passageway/courtyard in Fourvière, the old city. Built in the 4th century, traboules enabled residents to move through buildings to other streets and enhanced pedestrian movement through the city. The doors into and exiting the courtyards are not obvious to the casual person. During WWII the unaware Germans were temporarily baffled when les gens de la Résistance kept disappearing while being followed. The hundreds of traboules throughout Lyon are mostly private, with a few open for tourists to have a look. The apartments surrounding the courtyard are private residences whose inhabitants put up with the noise/inconvenience of hundreds of tourists as a trade-off for the city's upkeep of these spaces

Here's our group exiting a traboule.

Trompe l'oeil: everybody depicted is someone (both dead and alive) well-known to the Lyonnaise

There's Chef Paul Bocuse, who, at age 90, still shops at the market named after him, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse and still cooks up a storm. He still owns several restaurants.

Apparently the girl with the violin is a self-portrait at a younger age of the trompe l'oeil artist herself

All the sweet and pastry shops we walked past were a treat for the eyes. I shopped via iPhone camera

The Lyonnaise treats below are called "coussins" or cushions in English. They consist of chocolate ganache, sometimes flavoured with a liqueur such as Curacao, then wrapped in marzipan. What's not to love!

From Wikipedia: 
During the plague epidemic in 1643, the aldermen of Lyon made the vow to organize a procession at Fourvière to implore the Virgin to save the city. They carried a seven-pound candle of wax and a gold crown on a silk cushion. This gave the chocolatier Voisin, based in Lyon since 1897, the idea of using the shape of the cushion to create this confection in 1960. It has become the most popular French specialty confection containing chocolate ganache.[1]
This delicacy has become very popular. It is possible to buy the "cushions" individually, and also in velvet boxes which recall the original form of silk cushion.
The Boucaud family has a monopoly in marketing the coussins, which it makes in its network of retail stores across the Rhône-Alpes region and in Marseille. The manager of the company Voisin, Paul Boucaud, says that the company manufactures eighty-five tons of coussins of Lyon a year and that production increases by 10% annually. The family does not use large retailers to market its product.[2]
Even in cities as old as Lyon, modern families are drawn to modern furnishings.

Further Impressions of Les Halles Paul Bocuse

We started off our tour of Les Halles (The Market) at lunch time after arriving from Paris via the high-speed train. A glass of wine with some charcuterie and cheese. Perfect!

Our tour of Les Halles ended at SÈVE, a famous and award-winning chocolatier, chocolate and so much more! We scored some free tastes, then everybody on our tour overwhelmed the one clerk on duty with demands for this and that. Many sales!!

We had a taste of this praline tart- Tarte aux Pralines Roses (thumbs up!)
Red pralines are almonds coated with a bright red candy. In France. I grew up thinking that pralines were pecan-based, which, in the US, they are.

Across the street, Paul Bocuse was keeping watch over the goings-on in his market

We finally succumbed and bought ourselves some coussins. :)