Day trip 2: Lyon
As soon as we arrived, Jessica & I jumped on the over-priced tramway (1,50 €) and headed straight to Le Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation. We were there for over two hours and didn’t even hear the gas explosion. It happened just after noon, not far from Gare Part-Dieu, where we had arrived an hour earlier. We didn’t even know about it until hours later when David called to make sure we were ok.
The museum was cheap (only 2 € for students / 4 € regular price), but it was mostly plaques on the wall that took forever to read because the lighting was so bad. There were some exhibits that had no explanation as to what they were – not as confusing as Mozart’s Geburthaus in Salzburg, but still… I like to know what I’m looking at and why.
Lyon was considered the center of the resistance movement during WWII. The maquis (resistance fighters) were able to hide in and move about Lyon thanks to the three hundred traboules (tunnels) that connect buildings in the old town. The historical center is the site of the old Gestapo headquarters, where Klaus Barbie tortured thousands of prisoners (including famous maquis Jean Moulin) earning him the nickname “The Butcher of Lyon.” He was finally arrested in Bolivia in 1983, sent back to France, and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987. The trial was actually filmed and you can watch some of the footage at the museum.
The most interesting part of the museum was the large book listing every French Jew who had been deported from France. The day before, I had finished reading Hélène Berr’s journal, and I knew exactly where to find her name. She and her parents had been deported March 27, 1944 – her 23rd birthday. She would die in April 1945 at Bergen-Belsen, shortly before the camp was liberated. Anne Frank also died that same month at Bergen-Belsen.
It was strange finding her name in the book. I can’t really explain it, but finding that one name among 76,000 was a little surreal. It somehow made her journal and her life more real for me.
After an inexpensive lunch (4,50 € student menu), we walked across the Rhône and Saône rivers to Vieux Lyon. Going back much further in history, we wandered around the two amphitheaters built over 2,000 years ago when Lyon was called Lugdunum.
Continuing up the hill in the Fourvière district, we stopped at the famous basilica to take some photos of Lyon from above. The only skyscraper is a hotel close to Gare Part-Dieu, and that nuclear power plant you can see in the background is 30 km away.
Chamonix: 24,70 € train tickets + 38 € Aiguille du Midi + 8,80 € lunch = 71,50 €
Lyon: 21,60 € train tickets + 1,50 € tramway + 2 € museum + 4,50 € lunch = 29,60 €