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NewsletterDecember 2014

Seasons Greetings/Joyeuses Fêtes from Americans in France!

Fontaine Bartholdi in Lyon

Revisiting Lyon, I recently took a sightseeing tour with guide and stoyrteller Jean-Luc Chavent. Chavent calls himself a conteur de rues - street storyteller, more interested in the narrative of history than dates. We never got more than a half a mile from Place des Terreaux, our starting point. But in over 3 hours Chavent covered an abundance of history and stories, much hidden in plain sight. We started in Royal Abbaye des Dames de Saint-Pierre, that Chavent insisted was yin to Place des Terreaux yang. He said that in Place des Terreaux you felt mal à l'aise - uncomfortable whereas in Saint-Pierre you felt good. The courtyard in Saint-Pierre is very quiet as opposed to the hustle and bustle of Place des Terreaux. Saint-Pierre is now home to Lyon's Fine Arts Museum and the courtyard is open year round free of charge. Courtyard is also home to Rodin's L'Ombre ou Adam.
After Saint-Pierre we visited Place des Terreaux's underground parking lot. Just after the entrance Chavent pointed out a map of old Lyon on the floor and the wood ceiling. Then he took us downstairs, where we saw objects displayed that were discovered during construction; supports built by digging in the ground and filling in with building materials.
We then moved back to Place des Terreaux and in particular Fontaine Bartholdi. The fountain was moved during construction of the parking lot. Originally set at the west end of the square, in front of where public executions once took place and across from the Hotel de Ville.
Fontaine Bartholdi is named after its builder Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, constructor of the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi designed the fountain in 1857 for a competition held by the city of Bordeaux for its Place des Quinconces. Bartholdi won the competition at age 23 with his design but the fountain wasn't constructed. Not until Bartholdi built the Statue of Liberty did Bordeaux decide to have the fountain come to life, only to change its mind. The fountain was finished in time for the Exposition Universelle de 1889, of Eiffel Tower fame, and was put on display in the Galerie de Trente Mètres - photo of it on display. The mayor of Lyon saw the fountain and liked it so much he bought it for his city. The fountain was installed in 1892.
Chavent pointed out that the fountain looks out of place for Lyon, as it has seashells and a chariot with starfish wheels. But on the other hand the woman in the fountain is Marianne, a national symbol in France. The horses represent the four rivers of France. One river, the Rhone, passes through Lyon. The other rivers are Loire, Seine and Garonne - that runs through Bordeaux. There is a renovation of the fountain planned for 2015.
After visiting Place des Terreaux we discovered what a bouchon is, a restaurant serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine - mostly with meat as a main dish, and a 'tiger' house.

From the Web Site

False Friends: Anyone that knows French and English, knows that there are quite a few false friends. Words that look or sound similar but have very different meanings. Here's 10 I put together, from the risqué to the benign.
Paris Scavenger Hunt: Find out how well you know Paris with this scavenger hunt.
Champs de Mars: It's best known as the home to the Eiffel Tower. But it had a life before le tour Eiffel. See what the Champs de Mars looked like before the center piece of the 1889 Exposition Universelle was built.
Bûche de Noël (Yule Log): This holiday season make your own, here's how.
Glacieres de Sylans: where Parisians got their ice 'autrefois'.

Social Media

French Girl in Seattle: Travel Advice from a French native living in the Pacific Northwest.
The Shiro Project (Consortium Thriller): From Le French Book and now in paperback! Reporter Branislav Poborsky is running away from a bad marriage, when he witnesses the Czech army covering up the extermination of an entire village.
French Holidays & Traditions (Curious Histories Book 1): If you are intrigued by French culture and curious about the history behind French traditions, this book is for you. In it, you'll find a selection of short stories, written in a lively style, which often reveal little-known, but always fascinating facts about French customs.
Breakfast in Burgundy: A Hungry Irishman in the Belly of France: Laced with compelling writing about French food and its ways, Breakfast in Burgundy is part travel memoir, part foodie detective story, and part love song to Raymond’s adopted home. This book tells the story of the Blakes’ decision to buy a house in Burgundy. Raymond describes the moments of despair—such as the water leak that cost a fortune—and the fantastic times too.

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