Saturday, 10 November 2012

A drizzly day walking tour of Lyon city centre as seen by its statues

Yup, it's been raining and drizzling on and off all day here in Lyon. Still, it has been warm too so I decided to take a stroll around the city centre and take pictures of the statues there.

Not each and every one, because there are dozens of them including many modern ones too, just some of the older and better known ones which are pointers to the city's history.

So it's off to the south of the city centre by bus and to Perrache railway station before heading out and into the large public square in front of it. There are three statues there, including one of Marianne, who, as you can imagine, reigns from high above the other statues and us mere mortals.

The others may be smaller, but they are no less pleasing to look at. Here's a rather stern statue of someone but there's no information on who the person is and I can't tell from looking at it. Any ideas anyone?

But my favourite by far is this one. It's a small, simple, sobre, unassuming and moving tribute to those who died at Verdun in the First World War. Enclosed within a small memorial garden, it has been tastefully and discreetly isolated by an elegant 50-centimetre fence.

Perrache station is on the edge of the traditionally bourgois quarter of Ainay and there are quite a few statues there. One of them is in honour of André-Marie Ampère (20 January 1775 – 10 June 1836), the French physicist after whom the international measuring standard for electric current - the ampere - was named. I didn't take a close-up of him because I thought you might like to see the whole structure..

At the heart of Ainay lies a charming little square..... the centre of which you can contemplate this elegantly slender yet imposing creation.

A little further north is one of the tallest yet least known statues in Lyon because it is discreetly situated in a small square right next to the Rhône river which sees relatively little pedestrian traffic. It's in honour of Antoine Gailleton, a famous doctor and native of Lyon who happened to be with French president Sadi Carnot in 1894 when Carnot was stabbed by an Italian anarchist. Gailleton tried to save his life but his efforts would unfortunately be in vain..

Lyon's most famous statue of all (but not necessarily the best in my opinion) is to be found in the third-biggest pedestrian public square in Europe. It's even bigger than Red Square. This square is the true centre of the city and the statue of Louis XIV is right in the middle of it. It's the traditional meet-up place for lovers and friends who are going out for the evening and everyone here knows what you mean when you say "okay, I'll meet you under the horse's tail at half-past seven."

(I know you can't see much detail in this photo (dunno what happened there) but I quite liked the ominous 'shadow' effect against the sombre clouds.....)

And in case you were thinking of climbing up to say hello to the King you should know that he has deployed a couple of rather fearsome-looking guards below him, at the base of the plinth. You shall climb at your own risk and peril....

A side-street off Bellecour leads onwards to the Place des Jacobins and one of the most beautifully proportioned and situated statue-fountain structures to be found in the whole of France or anywhere else for that matter. It has just been cleaned and the effect is stunning. Here are two views of it.

So now I have walked the whole way across Lyon city centre to the other end and this is the statue which stands before the City Hall. It's an extravant explosion of expression. But that's not surprising really, given that it was created by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the man who also happened to design the Statue of Liberty......

It's dark outside as I type, but most of those statues are not in the dark, they have been tastefully lit up for the pleasure of those who are strolling the streets of Lyon. I intend to take another series of these statues at night, when they take on a whole new aspect.

Meanwhile, have a good evening, full of good things.



  1. Oooof Frip that is perfect- do not need to go there now.haha.Thanks for the tour!
    Have a lovely Sunday,

    1. Pleasure's mine Ruth and how goes it? As to not needing to come here may I remind you that you can't taste the great food to be had in Lyon's restaurants via the Internet! Also, the home made beers in my local are excellent too, so if you're ever down this way make sure to let me know and I'll show you around.
      Have a good Sunday yourself and don't forget to go to Mass. I've been twice already.... ;)

  2. Mass? Twice? hmmm.i did enjoy hearing church bells this sunny morn..All good this end-very very happy,dogs happy,enjoying life in the country,muddy lanes,Autumn splendour everywhere,lots of cider,getting down with the locals,attacking overgrown garden,eating masses of pork,enjoying seeing more of family and generally falling into a new way of life...
    Sure i miss Turkey and amazing friends there but use facebook a lot to keep in touch and am setting up business focussing on Turkey.Miss speaking Turkish..
    Great food in Lyon ha?Home made beers? And meeting you? Very very tempting! still puzzling that Frip.
    May all your prayers be answered!

    1. Hi Ruth, I just happen to be online so I got a 'you have mail' which led me to your comment which describes an absolutely wonderful and healthy lifestyle! It's exactly what I want for myself when the house in the country has been renovated. I love cities, but it's time to change....

      Yet it's also clear that you still miss Turkey. Still, let's hope that your business ideas work because that will give you a lot more contact with Turkey and Turkish people. Best of luck! (And will you be offering English-Turkish translation services? If so let me know by email because I could maybe be of help to you.)

      Oh, and Mass episode 9614, the last time I went to mass was, I believe, in 1966, when I was 13. One year later however something happened that made me promise to myself to never, ever, set foot in a church again. And it's a promise I have kept....

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