After a hectic week marking three hundred odd copies, I had a strong desire to prendre l’air and escape the city for a few hours. I didn’t fancy travelling far and after debating the various merits of a few nearby towns I settled on Vienne, which many moons ago was a hub of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar. The lively town centre is filled with winding streets, squares bordered with cafés and traces of the Roman era.
Cycling fanatics will know the Col du Grand Colombier from the 2012 Tour de France; for the uninitiated – myself included, prior to this hike – this mountain pass in the southern Jura is a superb visual gateway to the Alps. Spectacular views from the summit await those who are prepared to hike to the summit and have achy legs for days afterwards – or if you’re not quite feeling it, you could always drive your Citroën 2CV to the summit instead.
Last weekend, the Fête des Lumières returned to Lyon: windowsills were illuminated with flickering candles in glass jars, the streets were bedecked with strings of festive lights (and lanterns!) and eclectic light-and-sound installations took over the façades of the city’s key landmarks.
France, 1943. In Lyon, amidst the roundups, barbarism and inquisitions, the French Resistance was gaining ground. Losing faith in Pétain and his politics, the Lyonnais turned to the clandestine resistance movement, a lifestyle fraught with risk.
Montluc ceased to be a military prison in February 1943, at which point the Gestapo transformed it into an interrogation centre, prison and internment camp. For many, it was a holding pen prior to being transferred to Drancy; for others, it was to be their final resting place. Today, the Mémorial National de la Prison de Montluc is open to the public, offering a heart-wrenching insight into the fate which awaited those who sought to free France from the German Occupation.