Friday, October 29, 2010

LYON: Tintin and the park with the golden head

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The lands here were known as the Parc de la Tête d’Or five hundred years ago, but they were not transformed into what is now France’s largest urban park until the 1850s. At 117ha, it’s about three times the size of Sydney Park, but still only about 2/3 the size of Sydney’s Centennial Park. The headquarters of Interpol have been situated adjacent to the park since 1989.

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We entered through the main gates facing the river, and are immediately presented with the lake vista below. The squadron of geese hovering near its edge were not in a hurry to meet Munson, but seemed to be sufficiently well-acquainted with leashed dogs to not panic on his approach.

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It seemed that any tree within ten metres of the lake wanted to lean over the waters, and dip its branches so as to form a gracefully airy cocoon over some ducklings or other small birds.

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This sculpture seems to illustrate Archimedes’ statement “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth with a lever”. I don’t know if he qualified that to state “an earth comprising of just Italy, France, the United Kingdom, USA and New Zealand” or the remaining lands were omitted or fell off. Greece at least should have been given a place on the globe.

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There’s a small island in the shallow lake with a large memorial to war deaths. The island is accessed by a short underwater tunnel.

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There’s a small zoo on the edge of the park. At its entrance (which I don’t think was barred to dogs, but I didn’t want to take Munson in lest he accidentally distress one of the animal inhabitants) I spoke at some length to a Frenchman with two children of Asian birth, the latter of whom had lived in the United States for a couple of years and thus spoke some English. They were interested in Munson but a bit afraid to even touch him. Nonetheless they persisted in questions and so I conducted a mini-lecture in two languages for benefit of all three ( I don’t think their guardian had any English), and as I looked around, a mini-crowd of children distracted from entering the zoo while a potential loup or loup-chien was out and about.

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There was an off-leash area for dogs about the size my little backyard in Sydney. Any dog bigger than a small terrier would not be able to run in a straight line for more than five seconds. While France does superficially allow great freedoms for dogs, they don’t give them much space in urban environments.

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Back on La Croix-Rousse, these parodies of frames from Tintin in the Congo reminded me of David Messer’s Tintin parodies in the University of Sydney student paper Honi Soit.

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Back in the commercial heart, one could still glimpse the basilica high on the hill that prays.

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At the Lyon Opera, over a dozen young men and boys were swapping street moves, short bursts of athleticism and overly-self-conscious choreography presented to each other with all the affected nonchalance of middle-aged men demonstrating their golf swings on a Sunday afternoon round at the local 18-holes. Munson didn’t pay them much attention until the nearest guy started hopping around on one arm, and then the opera began…

It was about 5 in the afternoon by now, and there seemed little point in leaving the city during Friday peak hour. I wanted to see at least a little of the city dressed in evening lights, and perhaps have a proper sit-down meal before we finished the visit.

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