The Frogmarch

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Is It That Binds Us To This Place Like No Other?

"In all of the American story, there is no place like this."
--Charles Kuralt, speech at the 1993 bicentennial of UNC

With all due respect, Mr. Kuralt, I beg to differ.

The upper picture is the Old Well in Chapel Hill, proud symbol of the town and university; the lower picture is a mostly-forgotten Temple d'Amour in a wooded area near an apartment building's playground on the Duchere plateau in Lyon's 9th arrondissement, last remnant of an estate that once stood here before being replaced by an architecturally dreadful 60's concrete apartment block. These temples d'amour were intended as places where one could pause for a rest (or a romantic encounter, or a can of Vienna Sausages and a Sun-Drop, or all of the above) while out walking one's presumably extensive grounds.

Both the Lyon version and the Chapel Hill version were apparently based upon the 1778 Temple d'Amour in the Gardens of the Petit Trianon at Versailles, and while there are differences between the two, the similarity was quite striking as I flipped through a guidebook on "undiscovered" Lyon. A quick trip on the Metro, then the 21 bus, and there it was. Just like Chapel Hill, but with much less chance of being bonked by a rogue frisbee.

[Note: Yeah, it's been a while; sorry. I've been back in the States again and busy with other things. More to come on all that.]


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