It’s history time!

6 March 2010

Just a quick post to send a big hello to our faithful friend and reader Marion from Ascot. I chatted to her on the phone yesterday and she admitted to checking the blog daily for news from Lyon…:) Marion, have a fab time in Argentinia!

We are back to normal here, the spring weather has taken a break and we had some snowfall this afternoon. Oh, I am so fed up with this! Yesterday I was determined to brave the elements and, foolishly, wore a leather jacket for a guided tour round the Croix Rousse (which is a part of Lyon). The tour was really interesting, because the Croix Rousse (like all of Lyon) is so steeped in history. You find the remains of a roman amphitheatre there, but also lots of history from the middle ages when Lyon was almost owned by the catholic church – a staggering 1/3 of the land in Lyon belonged to the church! Accordingly, there were lots and lots of convents and cloisters all over town. At that time, Lyon  also enjoyed huge independence and wealth because it had been granted certain privileges by the crown – Lyon became an international banking and trade centre, where merchants dealt with spices from Venice and Genoa as well as luxury silk sheets, velvet, taffeta and damask from Italy.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 16th century that the silk industry was firmly established in Lyon by King François I. The official reason for establishing a silk industry in France were economic reasons, but the true intention was that the king wanted to ruin the Italian silk industry. His plan was very successful, as one century later the quality of the Lyon silk was so highly valued throughout Europe. The lyonnaise silk industry grew so big that shortly before the French Revolution silk sustained more than half the population of Lyon.

Croix Rousse was the place where most of the silk workers lived and worked. Obviously, with so many working class people living there, the Croix Rousse was a hotspot for socialists – the silk workers fought for bloody battles to improve their  living conditions in 1831, 1833 and 1848. The revolts caused the emergence of a sense of shared interests in workers’ communities that spread throughout France.

But apart from lots of history, you have a wonderful view over Lyon from the Croix Rousse (which is, by the way, now one of the most fashionable areas of Lyon). If you want to see what I saw yesterday, check out this website:

They have good photos, historical and contemporary,  from all districts of  Lyon. I am now hooked, the tour yesterday was interesting, but I thought that there is so much more to discover and learn about Lyon, I am going to join another one on the 27 of March which is all about the traboules and the fresques de lyon. I hope that by then it will be a bit warmer. I know this is being shallow, but I need sunshine, my ‘fuerte tan’ is disappearing quickly.

The other day I got a really interesting letter from school. This was regarding Linus: I have to indicate whether I want him to move up to the next class after the summer holidays or not. This letter is returned to the teacher who then puts down his or her opinion as to whether Linus should repeat the current year or move up. I hope the teacher and us agree in this matter….Linus certainly does not fancy repeating the quatrième and I perfectly understand that. On Monday, I have an appointment with his ‘Life Sciences’ teacher. If she is happy with him, there shouldn’t be a problem….I hope she is as nice as his class teacher and as keen to understand my French.

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