Sunday, 30 December 2012

Lyon's St Jean quarter

Today is the 30th of December and I don't know about you but I woke up this morning feeling that it was more than time that I went for a long walk to get some air, stretch my legs and shake off the effects of five days of drinkin' an' eatin'.

And so it was that I found myself in the St Jean area of the city this afternoon. This is, I have read, the biggest and oldest renaissance period quarter to be found in any major town in all of Europe, and that explains why it's full of tourists most of the year. So here are a few photos of it. Enjoy.

When you get out of the metro station you see this.

A place where people go in an' pray an' all that

It's the St Jean Cathedral. Now I'm not big on religion or anything but I readily admit that it's a wonderful edifice.

Then again, so is this. It's an English-style pub and it's a good one, because the boss and most of the staff are, actually, British, that which isn't the case for many other 'English Pubs'. St Jean has lots of British-style pubs which are full to the gills every night with the thousands of foreign students who live in the area.


These are typical of the colours used to paint the facades of buildings here....

People meeting to plot an overthrow of the government

I popped into this shop for a bottle of milk. That was a lie. What you are looking at here in fact is a photo I took of a miniature model of a shop which can be seen in St Jean's Miniature Museum. This minutely-crafted marvel measures about 16 by 12 inches. Yes, 16 by 12. Amazing!

"A pound of Granny Smiths please"
Lyon is well known for its 'Bouchon' restaurants, which serve simple but what-can-be-rather filling and fattening recipes. The best ones are not to be found here (it's a tourist area after all) and you need to reserve tables in advance in them, but still, St Jean has a few which are fairly reasonable and here are some of them. Not only that, and unlike France in general, which refuses to sell meals after 2pm and before 7.30pm, many restaurants in St Jean are open all day to cater to tourist (and mine when I want to eat at 3pm) demands.

Kilo-a-gogo restaurants

'All Aboard for Funtime', as Iggy Pop would say......

Not as good as bumper cars

This place looks like some cheap Hollywood sandwich bar, but it isn't. This is Chez René Nardone, an ice-cream maker which has existed since 1899 and set up in Lyon in 1924. See the people queuing up? Yup, they're queuing up for ice-cream on a day when the temperature is 15%. That's how good Nardone's ice-creams are.

"Un café liègois s'il vous plait"
I did say "full of tourists", and here they are. Still, locals go here often, even if they don't like to admit it.......

Why does everybody wear black? No, seriously.....

On a different tack for a second, it was just after having taken that photo that two young women approached me rather purposefully. I thought it was Christmas once again, of course. But then one of them asked me a question I have heard dozens of times since I grew my short beard. She asked "are you the actor who plays Doctor House?" Jesus, I don't even watch television so I have no idea what he looks like apart from the odd photo I've seen here and there, and having seen them I can't see too much resemblance, but oh well...

Anyway,  I stopped for a couple of beers after that, after which darkness began to fall. This is a picture taken from the nearby river Saône as I began to walk back to the metro station. You can see the Croix-Rousse quarter up on top of the hill.

Awww... innit pretty?
A splendid building this, and I love the silvery tones which have been chosen to illuminate it. It's the Palais de Justice and it's massive doors have witnessed may a notorious criminal, including Nazi butcher Claus Barbie.

Bad photo, sorry, but I've seen this young busker around town quite a few times over the last couple of years. He was singing 'Wish You Were Here' when I took this photo.

A lead role in a play.........

If only those walls and cobblestones could talk........

Time to go home, so back to the metro station with the cathedral. It had been lit up by this time.

 Lovely. Still not goin' in tho'....

That's St Jean. A tourist Mecca, a magnet for students, and an architectural treasure which is a must-see if ever you're in Lyon.



  1. Lyon is a beautiful city! I am sure the Lyonnais are not at all like Parisians.
    Hopefully much nicer and happier. Every once in a while in the US, we here about Lyon because of antisemitic graffitis, synagogues vandalized... which is such a shame!

    1. You read about Lyon in that respect Nadege? That's very surprising as in my experience there is very little of that kind of behaviour here compared to what happens in Paris, Marseille, Strasbourg and other cities. Lyon is a relatively calm and civilised city and is known as such. Do you have any links to stories about Lyon? I'd be most interested to read them...

  2. As I re-read my comment I realize that I wrote here instead of "hear". I want to say 3 or 4 years ago, there were a big wave of antisemitism in Lyon.

    These are from 2002 and 2004 but it seems like it was yesterday to me.

    1. Hi Nadege, and those two links don't seem to indicate to me that there's a particular problem in Lyon. The first two of those stories you link to discuss the same attack and the last one mentions graffiti on graves, which happens all over France and much more often to Muslim graves.

      As to the third story, the comparison to 'Kristallnacht' is downright hysterical and a disgrace. Moreover it is unsubstantated. That story is trash journalism, and there are no links to anything the writer says happens. But I do have a telephone and so I phoned two Jewish organisations in Lyon today to ask about the multi-car attack which destoyed a synagogue here. I'd never heard of it and, surprise surprise, nor had they, either of them. I also googled that allegation, in French, and found nothing either. No synagogue has ever been destroyed in Lyon and that article is no more than a pack of lies unless proved otherwise.

      So, one attack in Lyon and grafitti on gravestones? Is that all the American press can find to write about Lyon? And does it mean that anti-Semitism is a bigger problem than any other racism or anti-religious attack? No, and on the contrary, other groups suffer much more.

      I just wish peace for all, and misleading journalists throwing oil on the fire doesn't help in my humble opinion.

      I think all this needs to be kept in perspective to be honest, and, don't believe everything you read in the press. :)

  3. I used tp subscribe to the LA Times until few months ago, still read the New-York Times on sundays and get all headlines from the LA Times, NY Times and International Herald Tribune on line. (I did sent you a private message yesterday by the way). If this isn't true, false journalism... then could it be another form of french bashing? I remember when I heard it on the news. I don't read papers or watch TV channels owned by Rupert Murdoch. I remember being shocked because my ex-husband who is jewish was very upset about those events. A pack of lies? Do you remember when Ariel Sharon, a bit before getting sick, said that you can only be a true Jew if you live in Israel? And there was talk that all Jews were leaving France because it was not safe to live there?
    I don't know what to add but frankly, if this was not true, it is a horrible manipulation. That could make a very good post. (Sending you another private message now).