Our ferry arrived in Toulon at 7am. Soon after we were walking to the Gare de Toulon to catch the 11am TGV to Lyon. Lonely Planet has little to recommend about Toulon, Rick Steves doesn't even mention it, but I credit Toulon for a delicious breakfast. We were walking up a market street, the farmers and other vendors were setting up for the day, when we stepped into a patisserie and I had a delicious tart made of nuts and raisins with an almond filling. Mmmmm. Their cafe au lait was good too. The French, with their pastries, quiches, and espressos, serve my favorite breakfasts.
This patisserie was also notable to me by its customer-payment process, something I've only seen in Europe. It's all done by machine. People handle the food but not their money. Customers feed bills and coins into a machine that then dispenses change. Clever.
Nothing particularly notable about the TGV. It was fast and quiet but a bit cramped.
Today we walked around the Confluence, where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet; the mid-town shopping area; and the old town, which is on the other side of the Saone river. I'm finding Lyon nice enough but it's strange to be in a big city after wandering the countryside and small towns of Corsica. I'm unaccustomed to crowded sidewalks and auto traffic. And there are so many choices that I feel a bit of decision overload.
As you can see from the photos the weather gods continue to bestow warm, sunny days on us (though the photographer in me would like clouds).
We took the metro to Lyon's Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) where we saw their "Floating worlds" exhibit. The three floors of mixed-media exhibits - found objects, music, videos, and interactive pieces - were entertaining but more Rube Goldberg than Picasso, which is where my mind goes when I think contemporary. The exhibits included:
- A small black room with a floor half-covered by popcorn and lit by black light.
- A fan blowing on a hanging light which occasionally illuminates a photoelectric cell that triggers a scanner that sends its scan to a computer monitor. Times 5.
- A book in a glass box whose pages are turned by a fan. Interesting only because the artist, Laurie Anderson, is one of my favorite musicians. I didn't know she made museum art.
- A video of cows and then cow-shaped kites titled Let's Make Cows Fly.
- A video where a woman comes out of a wind tunnel, sets up a music stand, takes out a flute, then plays. Wind blows.
- A video of 150 people dressed in black tearing out the black pages of a black book, throwing them down, then reassembling them.
You get the idea. At times I thought the most creative aspect of the exhibit was the descriptive text accompanying each piece.
Literally and figuratively, the artist accomplished the dissemination of logocentrism and its hierarchies, for the sake of the incommunicable and the imagination. From the MAC exhibit guide on a poem by Ewa Partum.
I suppose I'm sounding like a philistine.
The juxtaposition of the fixed images and wooden structures supporting kinetic water-courses, with objects found in situ, invites us to consider the symbotic relationship between nature and technology, aesthetic beauty and function. From the MAC exhibition guide on Yuko Mohri's More More [Leaky]: The Falling Water Given #4-6.
Lyon's Musee des Beaux Arts is located in a charming old building, a former abbey, in the heart of the city and adjacent to the beautiful Hotel de Ville de Lyon, or Lyon city hall. Its collection ranges from Egyptian antiquities to impressionist paintings. We came for the paintings.
The second floor up displays a pretty selection of paintings from the last six centuries (no famous works, but a good Impressionist collection). Youll see Renaissance and Baroque paintings by Veronese, Cranach, Rubens, and Rembrandt, and modern works by Monet, Matisse, Pissarro, Gaugin, and Picasso. The highlight is a series of Pre-Raphaelite-type works called Le Pome de lAme (The Poem of the Soul), by Louis Janmot. This cycle of 18 paintings and 16 charcoal drawings traces the story of the souls of a boy and a girl as they journey through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. Th
The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere is a large church at the top of Fourviere hill. It's a large church, visible from a distance. The interior highlight is a set of six large, colourful murals, made of tiles, that tell the story of the Virgin Mary. After visiting the church we walked to the nearby Roman theater which is still in use for concerts and festivals.
The backside of this narrow seven-storey building is covered with a detailed mural featuring famous people in French history. It looks quite real, even close up, and reminds me of a similar, though smaller, mural in Quebec City.