Filming La Fête nationale

Getting great photos at night is a challenge. We have tried before and the number of good shots to blurred is heart breaking.

When still images fail, I turn to taking footage. Experience has taught me that footage turns out better in low light, with fast motion, or in difficult situations.

Previously, I would have gone to the fireworks planning to film the entire event. A complete record of the show. Proud in knowing I captured every moment.

Today, I feel that completionist approach acts a good record but is rarely entertaining for others to watch – or even for myself to re-watch.

Lyon’s fireworks tend to run on for a while. The show lasts about 20 minutes and it has felt longer. The city could get away with a much shorter show.

Last night I took my footage, as usual, and decided to edit something together before bed. It was a late night.

On reviewing the short film of Lyon’s La Fête nationale firework show this morning, I felt it a not too bad a sample of the evening.

Short, snappy, and a taster of the event.

La Fête nationale in Lyon

Yesterday, France celebrated it’s national day, La Fête nationale. Also known as Le quatorze juillet and, in English, Bastille Day.

This was our third year celebrating the day in Lyon. We knew where to go and where to expect crowds. The best view of the fireworks is along the east shore of river Saône.

The crowds felt less in number this year. We had room to walk around and generally the atmosphere was good.

If we are still in Lyon next year, I suspect we will try for a picnic on the bank of the river Rhône. The area seemed calmer, more relaxed, and more festive that the amped river Saône crowd.

Bridge spanning the river Rhône in Lyon.
Bridge spanning the river Rhône in Lyon.
Man plays music to the crowds.
Man plays music to the crowds.
Rotisserie chickens wait to be bought.
Rotisserie chickens wait to be bought.
Looking up to the Basilica from Lyon's city centre.
Looking up to the Basilica from Lyon’s city centre.
Police watch the crowds and traffic.
Police watch the crowds and traffic.
Musicians entertain the passing crowds.
Musicians entertain the passing crowds.
Lyon's Basilica remains illuminated until the fireworks begin.
Lyon’s Basilica remains illuminated until the fireworks begin.
Crowds wait for the fireworks.
Crowds wait for the fireworks.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
The Basilica's illumination is synchronised with the show.
The Basilica’s illumination is synchronised with the show.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
After the fireworks, France's flag colours are projected onto the Halls of Justice.
After the fireworks, France’s flag colours are projected onto the Halls of Justice.

Quietly Waiting

There are moments when the waiting becomes a papable being in your life. You feel its presence and you feel it consuming you as it grows.

There have been numerous waits since our move to France. We waited in Australia too but there it did not seem so nebulous. Those waits could be reasoned against.

Here we struggle to find a balance between knowing what to wait for and what to tenaciously hound along. Knowing the difference is key and we rarely know for sure.

Looking north on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking north on Lyon’s rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon’s rue de la République

For the most part, waiting patiently is the right choice. The system does work but it is slow. Attempting to chase will cause delays and stir up problems. Wait, and wait patiently.

This pace forms much of the slower-way-of-life that immigrants claim to seek. So long as you are settled and comfortable where you are waiting, then the wait can be put aside until it is ready. That lazy approach, that beguiling claim, that everything will sort itself out – eventually.

Assuming you are settled is the key. By the time you are settled, you have existed long enough in the system to have suffered, learnt, and adapted. At least you should have adapted; those that do not, or can not, are sure not to remain long.

Looking east on Lyon's pont de la guillotière
Looking east on Lyon’s pont de la guillotière

So what is this wait for? A dossier to move from one person to another until it reaches our hands. When it arrives, we expect to be able to breathe a little more freely. Until then the wait is papable and increasingly oppressive.

Wild Flowers in the Park

Near the bee hotel in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or is a small section set aside for wild flowers.

At least it is most years. In 2012 I filmed the flowers and bees buzzing around. That footage has been sitting unloved ever since.

Only now have I put together the footage into a short film. The film is below and on my Graham Miln YouTube channel.

This year the same area is mown. No sign of the beautiful display from previous years. A year fallow maybe?

A small section set aside for wild flowers near the bees.
A small section set aside for wild flowers near the bees.
Wild flowers in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or.
Wild flowers in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or.

Beaujolais Region

We recently enjoyed our first visit to the Beaujolais region of France. This region produces world famous wines and the landscape is a mass of vineyards in every direction. Megan recently shared photos of the Oingt, a village in the Beaujolais.

View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais
View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais

During our day out I also took my quota of photos and footage. I am a little behind with processing my photos but this morning I made the time to create a short film of what we saw. The result is available on my Graham Miln YouTube channel and embedded below:

Unknown Insect

For a couple of days I had assumed the tiny animal clinging to our bathroom wall was a spider.

This afternoon it came into reach and I decided to usher it out of the window. In doing so, I realised that it had wings and two few legs for a spider.

The hooks on the legs are impressive and intimidating.

What is this insect?
What is this insect?

Is it a type of fly? I am not sure.

Nudging on Lyon Metro

Lyon’s underground platforms mark where the train doors will be. At peak times, this causes a problem.

Those waiting at the station will cluster around those markers and, when the train arrives, be in just the right place to block those wanting to get off the train. The train arrives. The doors open. Those inside are faced by a wall of people who knew exactly where to stand and wait. They have been waiting long enough to be a solid block a few people deep.

What follows is pushing, annoyance, and less than ideal.

To ease this problem TCL, the operators of the underground, have painted hints on the platform about where to stand and who has right of way. They help nudge passengers to do the right thing. They do not work consistently but they at least provide some guidance.

Stand to the side and priority to those getting off.
Stand to the side and priority to those getting off.

Swept Along by the Rhône

When we arrived, the gates of the park were closed. It happens from time to time. The wind is too strong or the park staff are delayed. At 6:30am it is better not to expect too much.

I watched a woman press the security intercom next to the gate. The buzzer rang followed by a series of tones but no answer. Not reassuring. The button had, until then, seemed like a good way to get attention in an emergency.

Megan caught up with me and we agreed to change our route. We like to know where each is running in case of problems. The river side run is not as attractive as the park but it is traffic free and not too far away.

I have something of an aversion to parts of the river side walk. It was there that I slipped and hit my head on the concrete. Those moments of blood streaming down my face and the subsequent hospital visit are memories I do not want to evoke.

Strip of pavement where I slipped.
Strip of pavement where I slipped.

Today it would another man’s turn to visit hospital.

The bridges act as markers along the route. Pass under a few bridges, turn around, and head back home. That was the plan.

The wind was strong and it blew bits into my face as I ran. The water was much higher than I had seen in my years in Lyon. Waves lapped over edge of the path. The normal metre drop from the bank to the water was gone. It has rained heavily for days now and it showed in the river’s volume and force.

Listening to music, sunglasses shielding my eyes, I ran along. Two stationary runners appeared in the distance talking to each other. As I passed they had that look of tourists wondering what to do and who to ask for directions. Just then they called out to me. Odd, runners rarely need directions.

She was a younger woman. He an older man. She spoke. A flurry of French that I understood in a vague manner. Understanding enough but taking a moment to register. “Dived?”, I countered to confirm my fears.

Her look as she noted my not being local was unfortunate. Another runner only a few paces behind joined our growing group. He was the stroke of luck she wanted; he had a phone.

For the next few minutes we found ourselves tracking a person who had fallen – or dived – into the turbulent thrashing river Rhône.

The emergency services were called, in France dial 18. The universal 112 works but 18 is better.

Staring out over the river looking for a person, we moved down following the flow. Every so often a dark shape would come in and out of view. A person? Difficult to be sure. Then the shape again. Certainly a person. An arm raised. A small figure being propelled at speed along towards the next big bridge.

Pont Passerelle du Collège, Lyon, France
Pont Passerelle du Collège, Lyon, France

They had entered the river dropping from Pont Passerelle du Collège. I hoped the next bridge might catch them. A thump certainly but a place to cling onto and hold firm while help arrived.

For after the bridge comes turbulence. Swirling, ebbing waters, choppy, white with foam. Metres of churned up water created by the bridge’s plinths.

The shape had vanished.

Flashing lights started appearing along the river bank.

An electric cleaning cart appeared beside us. The driver getting out, confirming this was the location, then driving on ahead. His tone suggesting he was aware of the situation.

We were helpless now. The emergency services were arriving further down the river. On both shores I could see flashing lights moving through the traffic and stopping at the edges of the next bridge.

We ran along. Looking all the time for the shape, for the person to reappear. Had they clung onto the bridge?

Passing the bridge, moored boats limited our view.

Then between two boats I saw him. A small helpless shape still being swept down the river. Arm seemingly raised. Seconds later a powerful boat crossed my view. The boat took a couple of attempts to grapple the soul and drag him to safety. The engine roared and the boat swept in a tight u-turn, repositioning itself for that second attempt.

I stayed by the river side wanting to see the event end. An ambulance stopped near me and as the boat approached, I could see a young man. Wrapped in foil. Alive, shaken, but sitting up in the boat. He was surrounded by emergency services and would soon be on his way to hospital.

There was nothing more to do. I had closure and I had stayed for that. The notion of leaving after the call was made had crossed my mind. What could I do? Had I left I would have wondered, always wondered, what had happened. So I stayed only until I knew the man was safe.