Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Vieux Lyon and the Traboules

No Blythe Dolls in this post - but there is a lot of history and amazing architecture / architectural details. 
Vieux (old) Lyon is a wonderful pocket of close set, ancient (many Renaissance-era, some older) buildings, skinny lanes and secret passage-ways (the Traboules).  This was the first district in France to get legal protection as a historic site (in 1954).

If you can, get there early and step down a side street, away from the tourist traps and then - it is really easy to imagine yourself in another time, a very different era, living a very different lifestyle.

Would you be a silk merchant?  or a member of his family?  comfortably well off with servants to do the dirty work.  Or would have been one of those unfortunate servants?

Le Temple du Change  
built between 1631 & 1653, redesigned in 1748-50, now the Eglise Reformee

Would you be a canut (a silk weaver)?  Was this the good times when there was a Louis on the throne decreeing that everyone at court had to wear wonderful silk clothes?  Or were you seeing the beginning of industrialisation and fashionable ladies wearing little dresses of cotton from India!
A Canuts' home - from a museum

Did you take pride in your skill at weaving beautiful fabrics for other people to wear?
Or did you resent that loom that you spent so much time at - the precious, clunking loom occupying far more space in your home than you and your family had to eat, sleep and live in!
Perhaps you took part in the Canut Revolts of 1831, '34 & '48 when the weavers fought for better pay.  When I think of the French Revolutions I think of Paris and Versailles but it seems that the Lyonnaise were equally feisty and difficult to govern!

Looking down on Vieux Lyon from Fourviére Hill

Like many really old districts in cities, this is a very built up area with tiny narrow streets - an area built by people who had to walk everywhere.

Most of the old buildings back onto courtyards - and this brings us to the Traboules. 
Secret passages between buildings, originally used by merchants and by the canuts (silk weavers) to transport the silk and keep it dry (rain could cause spots on the fabric).  There is a lot of history in them - the Canut Revolts took place in and around some of the Traboules and it is said that the Traboules helped prevent the occupying German forces from taking total control of some areas of Lyon during WW2.

If you want to see the Traboules and courtyards behind the magnificent old facades then it is best if you have a local guide.

It can feel like you are trespassing, people do live in these buildings - they really are precursors of the modern secure apartments - only there are no car-parking spaces!

Tours can be booked - but we were lucky.  Standing in front of a locked door / gateway with our map and looking like silly tourists we were 'rescued' by a wonderful local historian - one of the guides not booked that morning.  He took us in & around a confusion of courtyards, passages, staircases ...

Really remarkable spiraling staircases ... especially when you remember how old these buildings are - those architects and stone masons didn't have pocket calculators or power tools.

This 'spine' and spiral stairs ...
here - looking up into the spiral ...
are in this tower
The stairs are often in towers that remind you of fairy-tails (and if you scroll up to the photo where we were looking down on the rooftops - you can see the tops of towers among all the chimneys)

La Tour Rose in the Quartier Saint-Jean of Vieux Lyon

This tower looked a bit spooky!
Looking up inside a grand staircase / tower

The following 6 photos are from the "Ancien Hotel de la Chamarerie", originally built for ecclesiastical dignitaries - Madame de Sevigne lived there in 1672 - 73, she was a very famous letter writer ...

Lovely painted vaulting on the ceiling of the passage
And, in the courtyard - a well
Here we've more vaulted ceilings - from some of the passages / corridors

Is that iron ring for hanging a lantern from?
Now let us look at some more Courtyards - like the one above, most have a well ...
Cour Philibert Delorme, rue Juiveri
Many wells still have the pulley system for bringing up the bucket full of water

The courtyard of La Tour Rose also had a pair of canoodling bicycles ! 
and on that note, we'll leave this post ... more of Vieux Lyon next time.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lyon - Musée des Marionettes du Monde

Lillian: The Musées Gadagne are in 2 parts - the History of Lyon museum we saw in the last post - in this post we will see something of the Musée des Marionettes du Monde ... the Museum of the Puppets of the World.

Audrey:  Well, not wanting to disappoint people who really like puppets but the camera clicker found most of the puppets rather creepy so ...

Lillian:  Of course, creepy is in the eye of the beholder - you know, some people find Blythe dolls a bit creepy ...

Audrey: Well!  huff  there is no accounting for taste!

Lillian:  These Ballerina marionettes are quite lovely

as is this Lady from Venice and dating from the 1700s.

Lillian:  Our photographer is somewhat obsessed about historical costume and textiles - especially lace. 
The lace over-skirt on that marionette is very lovely - possibly hand embroidered on muslin.  Of course, puppets' clothes are like dolls' - often made from left-over scraps or cut-down from human sized garments.  So they can be a source for fabulous textiles.

Audrey:  Although the camera clicker didn't take many photos of the puppets - she did take some close-up pictures of the lace on their clothes.

Lillian:  This Don Quixote gent had a wonderful outfit - including this lace.  Had it been a human's cravat end or a cuff frill?   Definitely hand made but we're unsure what type of lace it is.
More research needed.

An expensively attired lady puppet

bobbin lace - would we call this Cluny style?

Lillian: This gent is wearing a lot of lace - a simple bobbin lace for his cravat and on his coat is some gold lace.

Audrey:  What - real gold?!!

Lillian:  Yes, thread with thin strips of real gold wrapped around it.  It must've been stiff & difficult to work with but they made bobbin lace from it - and it was sold by weight.
Now no museum of Puppets of the World would be complete without some Indonesian shadow puppets, Wayang Kulit ...
from Java, 1850

 Lillian:  And this chap is a Kasparek, from Prague, 1928.  Kasparek or Kasperle / Kasper is a German / Austrian tradition - he is rather like the English Punch (and Judy).  The French have their own version and he originated in Lyon and his name is Guignol. 

Guignol was created around 1808 by Laurent Mourguet -  like the English Punch he is rather violent and uses a split stick as a weapon (the split stick makes a loud noise - which is why it is called a slap-stick ... ) 

This Guignol puppet was made by Mourguet
All these puppets, Punch, Kasperle & Guignol have their origins in the Italian Pulcinella in the Italian Commedia dell'arte.  

In the stories Guignol is often a silkweaver (like much of his original audience) and he is always very poor.  He is cheeky, clever & courageous - has a strong sense of justice and inevitably the story is of triumph of good over evil. 

Audrey:  Guignol is a glove puppet - whereas the Kasperle is a marionette, on strings. 

Lillian:  Yes, the English Punch is traditionally a glove puppet too.  We should say that the French use the word marionette for all puppets and those with strings are called marionettes à tringle et fils or marionettes à fils.

Audrey: I found a statue of Laurent Mourguet near the museum - the top part  is quite charming with Mourguet interacting with the puppet he created ...

but on the side - some of that slap-stick violence you were talking about

just above that unpleasantness, there is a reference to silk weaving with a bobbin of thread, clippers ... a shuttle ...

Lillian:  But back to the museum for a bit - because the buildings are quite lovely examples of Renaissance architecture.
Audrey: With a tower and courtyards ... 

A nice doorway

Audrey:  But best of all was the very thoughtfully provided Blythe swimming pool ...

And when we got back to our hotel - the mural at the entrance made far more sense  ...

Hello Guignol!