Category Archives: France

Under a road bridge near the city centre.

Along the Riverside

The riverbank of the Saône is being renovated. New paths, walks, and facilities are being constructed. The result will be grand, impressive, and well trafficked.

This post is about a different, less grand, bank of the Rhône river. A somewhat less trodden section that thanks to a new footbridge is now easily accessible from our apartment.

Three new bridges have been built in Lyon recently. We set out this weekend to cross one and then walk down towards the city centre.

The new bridge has a clever design that combines two paths into one structure: one flat and one curved.

Two paths join two levels of the river banks.
Two paths join two levels of the river banks.
Seats where the two paths join on the bridge.
Seats where the two paths join on the bridge.
A wide flat path spans the higher bank edges.
A wide flat path spans the higher bank edges.
Curves meet straight edges all over the bridge.
Curves meet straight edges all over the bridge.
One of Lyon's new bridges.
One of Lyon’s new bridges.

The walk from the west bank down to Lyon’s opera house was a mixture of delightful, narrowing, and surprising.

The crisp dry leaves on the path were delightful. I enjoyed kicking up the leaves with each stride. A simple pleasure.

A bird sits on a mooring in the river.
A bird sits on a mooring in the river.
Leaves cover the path at a junction.
Leaves cover the path at a junction.
Crisp dry leaves crunch underfoot
Crisp dry leaves crunch underfoot

The path narrowed along one section. Enough for us to question if the path would suddenly stop or become impossible to continue along.

The road and path follow the same route along the river.
The road and path follow the same route along the river.
The path transforms along the route.
The path transforms along the route.

The surprise came near the end. A small encampment appeared. We knew of larger encampments on the outskirts of the city, but I had not seen one in the centre.

An encampment near Lyon's Opera House and Town Hall.
An encampment near Lyon’s Opera House and Town Hall.

We walked through the camp and emerged onto the street near the opera house and town hall.

Pavement near the Opera House and Town Hall
Pavement near the Opera House and Town Hall
Road tunnels in Lyon.
Road tunnels in Lyon.
Autumn peaks through at the end of the street.
Autumn peaks through at the end of the street.
Pumpkins in the evening sun

Festival des Courges / Pumpkin Festival

The pumpkin festival is taking place in our park. Pumpkins sit in flower pots, on wooden palettes, in trays, and on the grass.

Festival des Courges / Pumpkin Festival in Lyon, France
Festival des Courges / Pumpkin Festival in Lyon, France

They are mostly left alone. I wonder why more are not taken. A few have been stolen but the bulk remain in place.

The largest pumpkin would be difficult to move by hand. A few weigh more than 130 kilograms. Signs proudly name the grower and final weight of the oversized vegetable.

Giant pumpkins in Lyon's parc de la tete d'or.
Giant pumpkins in Lyon’s parc de la tete d’or.
148.9 kilogram pumpkin
148.9 kilogram pumpkin

Over the last two weekends stalls have been set up selling pumpkin based treats and, of course, pumpkins. Given our regular wanderings we did not need to make a specific visit to see the stalls. They were waiting for us as we walked around our route.

Wide range of pumpkins for sale
Wide range of pumpkins for sale
Pumpkins for sale
Pumpkins for sale
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display

A bar formed one of the temporary stalls. Two life sized wooden statues stood out as curiosities. They stood motionless behind the bar.

Wooden bar staff
Wooden bar staff
Wooden bar staff
Wooden bar staff

The pumpkins were a magnet for children. One stall had children decorating smaller pumpkins and all around the kids climbed on the largest pumpkins.

Children decorating pumpkins
Children decorating pumpkins
Children playing on a 131 kilogram pumpkin
Children playing on a 131 kilogram pumpkin
Across the lake

Autumn Routine

Autumn has arrived. This weekend we will be transforming our apartment into its winter configuration. With the Autumn comes the cold and the damp. A pervasive damp that leaches into our kitchen wall and into our apartment.

I am ahead of myself. My mind is focusing on Christmas and the New Year long before it should. Before then we have a handful of important events to oversee and enjoy. Not least the completion of the first stage of our planning permission paperwork and the festival of lights.

Megan‘s routine has changed, leaving me with a couple of evenings to myself. Traditionally I would continue working through until she returns, however late that may be. My work right now does not lend itself to long stretches of time; the specifics are too complex and time away helps make the time working more productive.

Instead of working, I am walking and listening to lectures and talks. A routine I associate with my weekday lunchtimes in Sydney. During those walks I mapped out most of the surrounding area around the office. I discovered and I escaped the open plan environment of the working day.

We are fortunate to live near parkland in Lyon. My camera comes with me. Photos in the dusk are tricky but not impossible.

A church lit up for the evening
A church lit up for the evening
Illuminated street in Lyon
Illuminated street in Lyon
Leaves reclaiming their energy
Leaves reclaiming their energy
Dusk across the park lake in Lyon
Dusk across the park lake in Lyon
Trees reflected in the park lake in Lyon
Trees reflected in the park lake in Lyon
A railway bridge and entrance to the park in Lyon
A railway bridge and entrance to the park in Lyon
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Pumpkins on display
Chimney stacks in Lyon

Rooftop Risks

We have become familiar with the sight of workmen scrambling upon rooftops. Not common but every so often we look out to discover workmen installing a new window, running cable, or repairing chimney stacks.

Most of the time, they work in pairs and have harnesses. The drop is five or six stories and lethal.

So, the sight of three girls smoking on the ridge of an apartment block was a cause to grab the camera. The incomprehensible risks they were taking took a few moments to fully digest. Do not forget they are also smoking. One of these two activities is going to levy a high price.

Girls sitting on a rooftop smoking
Girls sitting on a rooftop smoking
Five stories up and smoking
Five stories up and smoking

I hope they do not repeat the act but fear they will.

Narrow Lyon street

Specialised Bikes

The city centre here is not a fun place to drive around. Touch parking is normal. Pedestrians and vehicles mingle with a casual ease that I find unnerving.

Given that, seeing specialised bikes and vehicles around the narrower streets is great. A response to needing to move through the city easily and swiftly. Today I happened upon the TNT delivery bike in the photos below.

Front of TNT delivery bike
Front of TNT delivery bike
Side of TNT delivery bike
Side of TNT delivery bike
Back of TNT delivery bike
Back of TNT delivery bike

Compare this to the effect of two garbage collection vehicles from earlier this week. The larger of the two completely blocks the street and causes long queues of traffic to form behind. Unavoidable, if rubbish is to be collected during working hours.

Two garbage trunks in Lyon
Two garbage trunks in Lyon
A less romantic view of a French city

Tiny Elevators

Retrofitting an apartment with an elevator is always going to involve compromise.

What was once a beautiful, stunning even, five story city centre building now houses tenants demanding modern convenience. Tenants have argued an elevator is essential and you must find a way to install one. They don’t care how, just make it happen.

I pity the engineers who looked at the building and came up with many of the retrofitted designs in this city. It must have been heart breaking to realise the options available.

The better instances carve into the central courtyard space. A square chunk neatly handed over to a shaft of metal and cables. Hidden from the street and affecting only those living in the apartments.

In our first apartment, the courtyard had already been eaten away with toilet blocks stacked on each other; providing residents with much needed indoor facilities. An additional bite out of the courtyard did little harm to the already shrunken space. Enough space now left only for the communal bins.

Looking down the shrunken courtyard
Looking down the shrunken courtyard
Looking up the shrunken courtyard
Looking up the shrunken courtyard
A tiny elevator suitable for two people
A tiny elevator suitable for two people

It is a rotten trade when in payment for your new elevator, an apartment block carves not into the courtyard, but instead into the stairwell itself.

Stairs once large enough to allow the passage of white goods or a sofa, reduced to a narrow squeeze space. Too small to allow free movement of larger items but still functional enough to allow claim to actually having stairs.

Elevator carved into stairs
Elevator carved into stairs

What do the tenants get in return for this trade? An elevator. But a useful elevator. Not always? Elevators capable of holding just one person, maybe two if they are close, are common.

We once used an elevator to carry up and down our large suitcases but not us. We could not fit inside along with our luggage. That luxury the tenants were not able to afford. Instead we pushed buttons, stepped back, and rushed up the stairs to meet the lift on our floor. An event probably neither as comical or as rare as we thought at the time.

As the years pass living in this aged city, it has become easy to forget the quirks and odd comprises. The layers of change seem normal and the resulting outcomes seem acceptable. Time is softening my critical judgement and the shrug so associated with the people of this nation seems an acceptable response. What other choice was there, it seems to reply.

A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A metro station in Lyon

English Language

I stared at this metro poster for minutes before understanding the intended meaning. I only paid attention because the organisation teaches English and felt I should understand the text.

"how douille houx doux ?" An unhelpful poster.
“how douille houx doux ?” An unhelpful poster. The business details are obscured.

The poster robs any easy meaning from the primary sentence. It does not scan quickly in either the English or French language. Thankfully the small print provides an answer.

Clever maybe but an effective advert?

As an aside, is the French phonetic translation of “do” really “douille”, why not the shorter “doux” twice?

Not perfect but fun

Insects and Manual Focus

I have started playing with manual focus on the Canon PowerShot SX700. It is not the first camera I have had with this control but it is a feature I rarely use.

Even with excessive zoom, I love focusing in on the small and intricate.

These insect photos were taken during an evening walk in the nearby park. Look closely enough at any cluster of plants and there will be insects to be found and photographed. These photos were all taken with manual focus and some careful moving of the camera lens as close as possible to the tiny creatures.

For some reason, cropping the photos to a square just looks right.

A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A dragonfly stares back
A dragonfly stares back
Not perfect but fun
Not perfect but fun
An almost alien like world
An almost alien like world

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