Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wednesdays in France - LYON

We left Lyon thinking that it wasn't our favorite city in France - maybe it was because we saw the ugly side as well. Arriving at the drop off point for our leased car was the easy part. It was on the outer fringe of Lyon and from memory it may have been the TGV station. From that moment on it became difficult!!!!

We needed to catch a bus to take us to nearby our hotel but the bus stopped at a depot a long way from where we expected to be. The Driver, although he needed to pass by where we needed to alight from, refused to take us any further. It was only due to the good will of his female assistant that he changed his mind and although closer to our hotel, we still had a reasonable walk with two suitcases and a bike bag.

Finally it was a relief to arrive at our hotel but due to a misunderstanding on Sue's part, the Ibis hotel she thought she booked was on the seedy side of town (well at night anyway).

Lyon was on our list for several reasons - those being that it has a reputation as being a gastronomic centre and secondly its renown Roman remains. Admittedly once you get to the Rhone and the Saone rivers, the city transforms to a wonderful looking and modern city that contrasts with its ancient part that hides behind a modern facade.

Our first day took us on a walk from our hotel to the city by the Rhone but along the way we took time to take in some history of the "Capital of Resistance". The Resistance and Deportation History Centre is housed in the very building used by the Gestapo's headquarters in Lyon.
The museum houses both permanent and special exhibitions. You could wander through the rooms housing the exhibitions for the whole day absorbing videos from people explaining their actual experiences during the occupation. People who were actually involved in the resistance movement recount their memories in film, photographs and documents.

 During the occupation of Lyon in 1940 the building while being used as the Gestapo headquarters was used to interrogate, torture and kill suspects connected to the resistance as well as Jews, Homosexuals and Communists so the literature documented. It was headed by the Butcher of Lyon, Claus Barbie who was punished by his crimes to humanity by being imprisoned for life and dying in prison.

We walked within the darkened hallways and rooms where the prisoners were interrogated and tortured. Today though, these same rooms and corridors have become galleries and displays illustrating the atrocities that were committed here. The spirits of these poor souls can be felt through the exhibitions on view.

We left the Museum with further knowledge of the war crimes of the Gestapo and the courage of the French as we walked down Avenue Berthelot towards the Rhone River before returning back to our hotel.
Tomorrow would take us back to the rivers to exploring the Roman remains that look down on Lyon.


  1. I don't have the nerve to visit such displays. I would probably be sick, and I know I would cry. Life imprisonment with torture would have been better for Claus Barbie and his ilk. Certainly death was too good for him.
    (You did say "don't be shy"!)

    1. Kay - Always willing to accept comments of conviction and emotion. We in Australia have been fortunate not to have experienced such atrocities however the first white settlers have something to answer for with our indigenous people as did those who settled America, both north and south.
      Pleased to read your comments.

  2. I so admire the people that were in the resistance, I am sure that I would never be able to sum up half the courage that these people had. It makes me sad to see these places, but it is good that they are remembered. I am certain that France will never forget. Keep well D & N

    1. A similar feeling to our visit with you to Oradour sur Glane but a little more uplifting with the spirit of the Resistance and of course with the eventual outcome.
      I still don't understand why humans are are sometimes so inhumane.

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