The Frogmarch

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hazards of Medieval Streets

The streets of Vieux-Lyon were laid out (or, more likely, evolved organically) in the 1st century AD, remained essentially unchanged through the medieval era and the Renaissance, survived the floods of the 19th century and the wars of the 20th, and because of UNESCO World Heritage protection, will avoid modernization and urban renewal.

Which is great for the area's charm. Winding, narrow cobblestone streets climbing or turning at absurd angles give plenty of opportunity for scenic strolls, archeological study or simple tourist gawking.

But they're murder on your car's resale value.

Witness: Every single one of these photos was taken this morning on a single walk to the boulangerie and back (I did take a different route back for variety's sake). No two photos are of the same car.

The evidence is quite strong that the standard width of a Roman cart axle is juuuuust a bit narrower than the track of a 21st-century automobile with its wing mirrors extended.

[Bonus points if you can pick out the 80's Citroen XM with the hydropneumatic suspension, in perfect condition except for the mirror busted clean off.]

By the way, the little square gray sticker marked "CT" in each passenger-side windshield is the Controle-Technique certification, which is equivalent to our state inspection stickers. In French used-car ads you'll often see the words "CT OK", meaning "will pass inspection". They generally don't bother mentioning "mirror held on by packing tape".

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Something I Learned Today

The French term for "pie chart" is camembert.

This struck me as particularly funny when I heard it used in a meeting at work, and in explaining why to my French colleagues I used this example: It's as if you found out that in America we call it a "Big Mac".

[Typing that post title led to about an hour of watching old Hüsker Dü videos on YouTube. And the umlauts remind me I just got a new French Canadian keyboard for my computer. What's a French Canadian keyboard? It has a regular QWERTY layout rather than a French AZERTY, but it has all the French àççènt márks. Sô I çán wrítè en Français wîthòut lööking tôô múch lîke án ídìôt. «Räd.»]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Snow

Just because it's hard to go wrong with snow pictures... here's a few more.

This first one's from Pont Tilsitt looking back across Vieux-Lyon, Eglise St-Georges. You can see my house in this one--well, Le Professeur's house, anyway. Look just to the right of the steeple of the Eglise. There's a big castle-looking building on the hilltop (actually a former seminary, now a high school) and in front of it is Le Professeur's big yellowish house.

The next one's from the left bank of the Saone, looking toward Eglise St-Georges and Notre-Dame de Fourviere.

In Place Bellecour, Louis XIV the Sun King looks a bit chilly. His horse too.

Finally, two pictures of the Bartholdi fountain in Place des Terreaux, across from City Hall and the Art Museum. I don't get up there too often but there was an exhibit on the Moderns (Picasso, Matisse, Bacon-- mmm, bacon) that I wanted to catch, and on a snowy day with everything iced over, there wasn't much else to do. Unfortunately everyone else in town had the same idea.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Yep, I Know It's Cold There, Too

But here are some photos of snow around Le Professeur's house and Le Clos Vendome, taken on my way to work the other day (well, the last one on my way home).