The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Croix-Rousse Street Carnival

The Croix-Rousse is a neighborhood on the north end of town, the traditional home of the Lyonnais silk industry. It was here that the famous silkworkers revolt ended in massacre, and today the area, the 4th Arrondisement, has a sort of hip cachet, not ritzy like the 6th, tourist-ridden like the 5th, or stuffy like our own 2nd. It's the type of place where a videogame designer might live in a converted silkworkers loft (coveted for their large light-admitting windows and high ceilings), and the type of place that might host the city's largest organic marché--which is why we go there, or at least V does, to buy organic veggies to make Tater Chow.

[First 4 photos: kids hanging out at a game booth; euro-drop game with a chance to win a Vespa (but don't hit the machine); a waiting row of Skil-Cranes; "When the horn sounds, watch out 'cause the ride's starting"]

Anyway, one week recently there was a street carnival there at Place de la Croix-Rousse, allegedly for something called the Fete des Marrons (Chestnut Festival), although there was no evidence of chestnuts except for the roast ones being sold by street vendors among the rides and carnival booths. Still, as you know, I love a carnival and the chintzier the better, so I took a few photos.

This kiddee-car ride [photo] had more copyright violations per square meter than anywhere outside the Taipei night market. I fully expect to get a C&D letter from Disney lawyers just for having taken this picture.

In the square here stands a statue of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, inventor of the eponymous loom perspectives be seen as a forerunner of the modern computer (it used punchcards to "program" that can from some complicated designs that otherwise would have to be woven by skilled artisans at great length and expense). Of course, by freeing the artisanal weavers from this difficult labor Jacquard was also freeing them from their means of making a living... which explains why, on this spot, an angry mob of his neighbors and former friends smashed the prototype loom he had put on display and chased him down the street. By about 1840, though, enough of the old hand weavers had died off (possibly of starvation) that Jacquard's invention was rightfully acknowledged as a pivotal moment in the Industrial Revolution... hence the statue [photo clumsily juxtaposing symbols of work and leisure, yada yada].

The brasserie in the background of this photo is one of the city's three brewpubs. The jungle cruise train ride is just a bonus.

It was miserably cold and a spitting rain was falling, which took away from the jungle ambiance somewhat.

Still, bumper cars, shifty games and snack foods made of fried dough and sugar add up to a good time in my book.


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