Lyon Day 3

Posted on Jun 02, 2010 in category

Another delicious ‘petite dejeuner’ at Hotel des Celestins in downtown Lyon. There is something special about their bread and boiled eggs. Once again we loaded up the backpack and headed towards ‘la colline de Fourviere’ or rather 'Heart-attack Hill’. Another visit to the Gallo-Roman Museum was essential. Yesterday, two and a half hours was not enough time; in fact, we only explored one third of the museum.


Before crossing the modern pedestrian bridge across the Saone, we marvelled at the fruit and vegie market stalls. Their motto is surely, ‘Libery, Equality and Quality’! For a couple of euros the raspberries were great value.
Wendy has a great sense of direction and desire to work off our French breakfast every morning. The route we discovered to the Gallo-Roman Museum was the old Gallo-Roman track down the hill. Today a large number of stairs assist the traveller including the famous ‘Montee des Chazeaux’, Lyon’s version of Mount Everest with concrete steps.


Arriving early for the Museum’s 10.00 a.m. opening, we revisited the Roman theatres in order to find Cybele’s temple complex that we missed. The temple complex revealed an enormous underground cistern engineered with arches. It reminded me of a similar sized cistern on the island of Delos in Greece. It also prompted me thinking about the source for the water. Looking around the site, we found very large aqueduct tunnels. Next, we unearthed the remnants of one of Lyon’s Gallo-Roman aqueducts. Incredibly, a house had engineered a section of the aqueduct into one of its high-rise wall. That’s confidence in Gallo-Roman engineering! 

At the Gallo-Roman museum we were able to meet its director, Hugues Savay-Guerraz. Hugues has been so generous helping us to organise contacts on our tour in Lyon and Vienne. Hugues has two hats in that he is also responsible for the new museum in Vienne at St. Romaine-en-Gal. Four and a half hours later without even a coffee break Wendy and I emerged from the superbly camouflaged concrete museum that was designed to blend unobtrusively into the ruins of the Roman theatres. Hugues told us that they are in the middle of revamping the Museum. It is perfect for historians and archaeologists with its numerous funerary stone stelae with Latin inscriptions telling us about the many interesting Gallo-Romans involved in Lugdunum’s economic, political, social and religious life. 

The special exhibition of Gallo-Roman death and burial practices was an example of the Museum’s future direction. Armed with an electronic guide, we weaved our way through a very informative and superbly presented display of artifacts and recreations of graves, the house preparation given to the deceased, stone funerary memorials of the rich, kids’ graves and a merchant’s shop that traded in cheap throwaway burial items for mourners.

After a photo shoot with Hugues and a little thank you gift, we descended the ‘stairway to heaven’ again to find a thing we missed yesterday- a famous ‘postcard’ traboule. Things were looking bleak because we couldn’t find any open entry into this traboule. Most of them have their old wooden doors left open. When in doubt ask a local in ‘school boy’ French. It worked. A button on the wall unlocked the door into this classic traboule. It was worth the hassle.


A quick five euro lunch consisting of a shared chicken baguette and water gave us enough energy to venture back to our hotel to collapse and do our blog jobs and to double check our car pick up tomorrow. Why the Spartan lunch?? One should prepare well for a Lyonnais dinner at Cafe des Federations. Au revoir mes amis!

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