Rhine and Rhone Cruise Part Three

Day Eleven (Monday) – Lyon and Perouges


Our visit to Lyon began with a walking tour through the city.  The included excursion was a bus tour with occasional stops; however, we spent five hours in a bus the previous day, so JJ, Karen, Candy, and I elected the optional “trek” tour.  We did not regret our choice.

A view of Lyon from where we began our city walking tour.

Lyon is located at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers.  The Saone ends here, and the Rhone continues.  Lyon was originally built in 43 BC by Julius Caesar and was called Lugdunum.  It later became the starting point of a Roman road and, for a time, was the capital of Gaul.  During the time of Louis XI (1461-1483), annual fairs were held here that drew merchants from great distances.

These towers are meant to resemble Olympic torches. An Olympic-sized pool at the base of them was constructed when Lyon was bidding for the Olympics in the 1960s or 1970s.
Lyon is situated at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers. After passing over a bridge over the Rhone, we walked across the old portion of town on what is called the peninsula and then another bridge over the Saone. We then took the funicular railroad up Fourviere Hill to the Basilica.
A view of the Basilica atop Fourviere Hill
A different view.
A view of the interior.
A view of Lyon from atop Fourviere Hill near the Basilica
This map shows the UNESCO-listed portions of Lyon (in red). The tip of the peninsula is off to the right of the map.
Near the Basilica was the excavation of two Roman amphitheaters. They are both used for performances today. The closer one was for plays. The farther, smaller one was for musical performances. The modern structure to facilitate performances spoils the view of the site, but it is nice that, like the forum in Verona, it is still in use.
We continued our tour by walking down Fourviere Hill through the Rosary Garden. Unfortunately, when we were most of the way down, the guide realized that the foundation hadn’t yet unlocked the gates that morning, so we walked back up the hill and came another way. The guide, Clemence, is on red on the right. The girl in the white shirt is Anica, a Polish girl working on the boat who joined our tour on her day off.
A Cathedral sits at the base of Fourviere Hill. This is actually the third church at this site, and you can see some of the remains of a previous one here.
I found this sign incongruous. The image doesn’t seem to align with being next to a cathedral.
Karen is hamming it up.
We stopped for a short rest to have a drink near the cathedral, which you can see on the left of this image.
The front of the cathedral.
Clemence talking about the traboules.

The Croix-Rousse district of Lyon was the heart of the 19th-Century silk trade.  Silk merchants used covered and enclosed passageways between buildings for safe passage to the markets.

You can see that these traboules were quite ornate, this one designed in the Italian Renaissance style. There are 600 or so remaining in Lyon that are still in use.
From this view, you can see how the traboules wound between rows of buildings. It appears that these were the “empty space” between buildings later formalized as passageways.

During WWII, approximately 4000 citizens of Lyon were killed, and another 7500 deported to concentration camps by Klaus Barbie, the “butcher of Lyon.”  Barbie was sentenced to death for war crimes in 1952 and 1954 but wasn’t extradited from Bolivia to face life in prison until 1987.  Lyon is reputed to be the heart of the French resistance movement that sprang up when the Germans invaded Vichy after the Allied landings during Operation Torch in North Africa.  I asked one of our guides if the Resistance movement conducted active military engagements or focused on intelligence gathering that later aided the Allies, but the answer was unclear.

A view of a Jacquard loom in the workroom used by Jacquard’s descendants.

The highlight of the walking tour, and something not in the included bus tour, was a stop at a silk shop.  The guide said that one of the French kings wanted to create silk production in France and permitted Lyon to start the business.  Italy had been previously the European producer of silk in the West.  These are the only silk looms in Lyon that are open to the public.  The look used punch cards to control the weaving.  The looms still work.  The owner, a descendent of the inventor of the Jacquard loom, said it takes a skilled worker all day to wave 4cm of silk.  The process of drawing an image on graph paper, creating the punch cards, and using the cards to weave intricate images was fascinating.

This image of Jacquard was WOVEN in slik.
The owner (on the left) demonstrated the use of the Jacquard loom and answered many questions (through our guide as an interpreter).

This concluded the walking tour.  We returned to the boat for lunch and then departed on our bus journey to Peroughes, a medieval walled village about an hour outside Lyon.


We took a bus ride to the medieval town of Peruges in the afternoon, about an hour outside Lyon.  The guide walked us around the village and gave us a little time to explore on our own.

We were walking along one of the picturesque roads. Perouges is essentially built as a circle with shops around both sides of the road and a square in the center.
Candy and Karen are mugging for the camera.
Our guide passes on information.
The tower is near the center of town.
Inspired by the Liberty Tree of the American Revolution, the people of Perouges planted this Linden Tree in the center of town. When the monarchy was restored, these liberty trees were uprooted nationwide. This one survived because Perouges was below the radar. It is interesting how logs support the massive limbs.
The view from Perouges to the countryside below.
Karen acted quickly to hold up an arch that was going to fall.
We sampled a French dessert called galette, a sugar-and-butter pizza.
A restaurant in the center of town. Reportedly, Bill Clinton gave a speech from here when he was president.

There is an old church in the center of town.  Our guide said that some famous opera singer really likes the acoustics in the church and has recorded two albums there.  Our guide then proceeded to sing a medieval tune that was masterful.

A sundial on a building in the center of town.

Day Twelve (Tuesday) – Beaujolais Wine Country

We boarded buses to head to a nearby vineyard to learn about the product of Beaujolais wine, the prevalent wine in this part of France.

The next morning we again boarded buses to head to a vineyard.  Along the way, we stopped in the town of Beaujeu for a rest and an “opportunity” to shop in a gift store.  In town was a very nice little church that was surprisingly ornate inside.

The chuch in Beaujeu.
A view of the interior of the church.
The altar of the church.
The town square of Beaujeu.  The town is on this year’s Tour de France, so they had begun to decorate.
500-gallon oak casks for aging wine.
The chateau of the winemakers.
The primary grape in the region is the gamay. Not being a wine person, I had never heard of them, but the French in this area are quite proud of them and the Beaujolais wine they create.
We tasted four different Beaujolais wines, each drier than the previous one. I was not too fond of the wine, but others bought cases of it to have shipped back home.  They were so dry that I felt like I had walked ten miles through the desert after just one sip.
After returning to the ship, we set sail. This picture shows us approaching one of the 12 locks on this portion of our trip.
Candy enjoys the cool breeze.

That night, Phillippe and Caroline provided the on-board entertainment covering Edith Piaf’s songs.  About a year ago, I discovered Edith Piaf on Pandora on the French Cooking Music channel.  Caroline sounded just like her.

Caroline and Phillippe were so good that I purchased their CD.

Day 13 (Wednesday) – Vienne, France

We arrived in Vienne, France, after dark.  I took these pictures from the top of the ship.

Gauls originally inhabited Vienne. This particular group of Gauls aligned with Rome and became citizens. Over time, the city transformed into a Roman-style city. When Rome occupied the area, there were 30,000 inhabitants — about the same number as today.
There was a light display on the front of the Church of Saint Maurice, who was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity (before it was legal) and was martyred. The lights kept changing their pattern.
Another view of the church a few moments later.
We had Clemence, our guide, in Lyon for our walking tour of Vienne. Our first stop was at a portion of the Roman wall surrounding Vienne.

In 47 BC, Julius Caesar transformed Vienne from a Celtic city to a Roman colony.  Vienne sits at the confluence of the Rhone and Gere Rivers and was an important trading outpost for Rome.  Many of its Roman monuments remain, including the Temple of Augustus, two amphitheaters, and some portions of the Roman circus.

The Cathedral of St. Maurice has occupied the center of town since the 4th Century. Construction of the current church began in 1130 and took almost 500 years to complete. Protestants damaged the church during the Wars of Religion (1562-1589 and the French Revolution. The Council of Vienne was convened here by Pope Clement V, leading to the abolishment of the Knights Templar and King Philip V of France confiscating the Templars’ wealth.

During the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution, many church statues were decapitated. This depicts the three wise men’s interview with King Herrod.
This is a view of the Temple of Augustus in the center of Vienne. The exterior is original. The wooden roof supports and the central building have been restored. This still exists, while most Roman buildings do not, because it had been converted into a Catholic church at one time, with the central building being torn down and walls constructed between the pillars.
Another view of the temple more clearly shows the restored central building.
This piece of Roman mosaic tile was uncovered in the city and made into a wall ornament.
When Thomas Jefferson was our first Ambassador to France, he visited Vienne and is said to have modeled several of the buildings in DC on the Temple of Agustus.

JJ, Karen, Candy, and I walked up to the top of Mont Pipet above Vienne.  It was a bit of a climb, but not too bad.  From there, we had excellent views of Vienne and the Roman amphitheater.

A view of the Roman amphitheater from Mont Pipet.
A view of Vienne amphitheater from Mont Pipet.
Chapel de Pipet atop Mont Pipet

The Church of St. Pierre that JJ and I passed while Candy and Karen were shopping for clothes. It is now a museum.
When we set sail, the sun awnings on the upper deck collapsed so we could pass under low bridges.

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