Lyon – keen competition for Paris

Just another communications tower.

If that is the Eiffel Tower, then this must be Paris?

But not so fast. The Eiffel Tower sits near a river, not on a mountain! So is this a pretender to the throne. Not if you ask the residents of Lyon. These people, intersected by two rivers, will say they are more rebellious and of course are more fashionable than the denizens of Triangle d’Or.

They may also claim other firsts, but the key one, and perhaps more contentious, is insistance of being France’s centre for gastronomy,

Paul Bocuse – as imagined at his school

Thanks , in part, to being the home of Paul Bocuse, one of France’s premier chefs and immortalized in his Institution (school for culinary arts) and Les Halles Lyon Paul Bocuse.

But we will review the foods of France later, here a few more highlights of Lyon.

Lyon was a favourite of Napoleon. Though not his capital, he ensured it received funding for monuments and boulevards which still exist.

Lyon also gained wealth during the silk trade, where remnants still remain in tourist shops and galleries. Also remaining are a series of tunnels and alleyways – called Traboules. Associated with the silk trades, some have existed since Roman times as quick passageways to clean potable water. Leveraged even more during the silk period, they provided an efficient path from the dense city streets to the rivers that were the main transport system of the day. It also protected silk from rain during transport. Also used as pathways during WWII.

Above are two paths of more than 500 and below are the courtyards and wells

Lyon is proud of its rebellious path, and is also know for its silk riots partly caused by the invention of a “computerized” weaving machine that displaced the more manual, artisan weavers. Though invented in France it allowed silk to be produced more economically reducing the artisans to “mere” labourers. Their poor working conditions boiled over into a number of riots before being quelled and forced workers to accept the change.

Sample of old silk factories conditions

As we bid adieu to Lyon, we can understand the pride that the people have for their city and advise others to visit if they are in the region.

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