05.02.2013 Gallo-Romain Museum in Lyon

Tuesday 5th February 2013. I knew that I had to do something so that I could write a new article for my blog. But, although it's only been two weeks since finishing exams, I found it impossible to find any motivation. With each day I felt less and less happy. It was difficult to find something to eat without feeling guilty although I didn't have any reason to feel guilty. Each day I was more and more anxious and I was desperate for a form of salvation. My mum was cleaning my bedroom although all my possessions were in their proper place and in each email my mum sent, she asked me if it was OK to throw out some things. But no, it was not okay. It's impossible to keep my things with me at all times. I had no intention of staying at my mum's during summer, I would stay in a wardrobe in London if necessary and with all the hope in the world, she was going to have her space. I don't know why she couldn't wait for me to get home three weeks later. I was really annoyed, to say the least.

I was scared that I was going to lose all of the things and memories I'd left in my room at my mum's house. I hate that house and my possessions were all that I had; I bought the majority of things and the other stuff were gifts. There were a lot of memories of the person I became when I was at university in London. Those years were marvellous to me. I was happy to not be living with my family and I felt free to be the person I wanted to be, away from all of my mum's criticism.

The internet was so terrible at nights, even now in the afternoon. It was impossible to speak with my boyfriend and I felt really, really lonely. I had to go out Tuesday to meet up with Henri, the old man from my French Literature class from last semester. I had to buy books too, so instead of going back to mine straight away after finishing, I decided to go to Musée Gallo-Romain in Minimes because it was better than spending the day in my room and I would then also have something to write about. Earlier this week I did a to-do list for the blog. For today, I wrote that I was going to go to Archives de Lyon, because there would be an environment exposition which would be really interesting, especially for me because I think that it's essential that we save the planet instead of continuing to interrupt the fragile ecosystems. However, I spoke with my Chinese friends in Nîmes who recommend the Musée Gallo-Romain in Lyon. I learnt a lot about the Romans in my classes this semester so I drew the conclusion that the Musée Gallo-Romain would be more appropriate for me right now. But, I did have a friend who said that the museum was a bit boring, but I knew that I had to go there myself to form my own opinion of it.

Once again, the weather forecast on my phone said it would be cold and rain like the day before- when it was grey and rained the entire day. The weather didn't help my depressed attitude. However, that morning, it was nice and sunny and I felt more motivated to go out and do something. It was quite hot as I made my way to Bellecour, where I started my day. I regretted wearing my winter coat. I hope that it would stay like this for the rest of the week because I had football tickets to see Olympique Lyonnais vs Lille on the Sunday night and I didn't like the idea of spending the evening at Stade de Gerland in freezing temperatures.


After meeting up with Henri, I walked through the large Place Bellecour, which was really muddy, over to the Decitre bookshop to buy a book for my lectures on the History of the French Language. It wasn't obligatory to buy the book and although I already had notes from the internet for the lecture, I bought it anyway as the development of the French language after the Roman Empire really interested me. The little book was quite expensive and it would have been better to have bought the book online but it's always easier to buy something in a shop as you don't have to wait for delivery. I am not always a patient person. It was easy to find the book in the shop and I was finally ready to go to the museum.


I took a few photos of la Saône river which was a bit dirty, before going to Old Lyon where I took more photos. I felt that I had forgotten about my camera a bit, therefore I was happy to walk around Old Lyon under the sun searching for topics before going to the museum, however I didn't find a lot there. I was also quite confused because a few shops and restaurants still had Christmas decorations up. But why? It's February!



The narrow streets were quite empty compared to on the weekends, but there were a few school trips going on that disturbed the peace and tranquillity. I strolled over to the metro where I took the funicular to Fouvriere. Whilst taking the funiciular, there were objects like Gallo-Roman pottery that could be seen from the harbour. However I should say that it wasn't very interesting.




I went and I was under the big shadow of the Basilica of the Notre Dame. I was happy that I had already visited the Basilica because it's completely closed now for the restoration of the magnificent building. I'm not sure when the Basilica will reopen. From here, I took panorama photos of the city of Lyon as I made my way up to the Fouvriere hilltop. There were a lot of tourists and teenagers having breakfast there. Then, I cut through the gardens on the hill near the Basilica to go to the museum. It wasn't very pretty in winter and everything was quite gloomy without any of the rich colours you'd find in other seasons.


I noticed a coach outside the museum and I realised that my quiet day was about to be ruined. Luckily, as I approached the museum, the big group of teenagers was just leaving the museum. I don't think I would have liked the museum with the unappreciative and loud teenagers.


It costs 4. 50€ for students aged 18+ to enter. I was asked if I was younger than 18 years old which was a bit weird as I'm certain that I look older than 18 years old, especially as I'm nearly 21. Furthermore, it's not very likely that a girl younger than 18 years old would come to the museum by herself on a weekday. However, the woman was really helpful and told me a lot of information about the museum. The audio guides were free and they're available in a lot of different languages. I was given a guide in English. In order to get an audio guide, I had to hand in a piece of identity and all I had on me was my provisional driving license, which reminded me that I need to start learning how to drive again... but that's for a different day!

The inside of the museum was really modern but I didn't really like the concrete exterior, however it's not really visible because the majority of the museum is located under the Fouvriere hill. My audio guide informed me that the museum opened in 1975 and the building was designed by a man who built it for UNESCO. He was well known for concrete structures, but I didn't know who he was.

Inside the museum you can find Gallo-Roman objects like jewels, mosaic armour, sculptures and many, many headstones inscribed with Latin. There weren't many things that I hadn't already seen as I'd visited the British Museum in London before, however I liked having the time to see all of the objects and learn a lot of things about the Gallo-Roman life and the fact that everything inside the museum was linked to the city of Lyon. For example, there was a really detailed stone coffin which had been found centuries later in the Fouvriere hill in 1854. I was shocked by all of the small detail and the fact that the man had ordered the coffin from Rome. I always knew that the Romans had a big influence in the city of Lyon thanks to the Roman ampitheatres that I had already visited, but I wasn't sure of the extent of its influence. I learnt a lot in the museum and I found more evidence of the Roman Empire in Lyon.


I recently learnt a lot about the Romans and the Celtic Gauls and I liked having the chance to put all of the things that I'd learnt about into perspective and I could now physically see the Roman's lives and their civilisation in France, thanks to the museum. In my Medieval Arts lectures I learnt about the end of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity. In my Languages and Cultures of the World lectures there was a session on the Roman and Gallic cultures and languages and for the last two weeks of the History of the French Language lectures, the professor spoke a lot about the Roman and Gallic languages and the historical context. The fact that the original name for Lyon was Lugdunum wasn't news to me. The word comes from the Gaulish words 'lug' which means 'light' but is also the name for one of their most important Gods and 'dunum' which means 'hill'; therefore it either means 'the Hill of light' or 'the Hill of the God Lug'. It was a good way of reinforcing the things that I had already learnt at university.


Although I already knew a lot of things, I liked to learn more about the ancient history of Lyon because I didn't know a lot about the actual city. The museum had things which dated back to the 1st century BC and when the city was founded in the year 43 BC by the Roman regional chief, Lucious Munatius Plancus. You are transported through time to at least the last five centuries of the Roman Empire and there were objects which were connected to after the Roman Empire too. The tombstones are the best objects to show changes through the centuries. They used to be enormous and detailed at first; they were normally for soldiers and rich people, but eventually the size of the coffins and the tombstones got smaller in correlation with the changing Christian views at the time that we are all equal before God, so when we die, the size and type of tombstone is meaningless.


During the Medieval Arts lectures that I don't like, I learnt a bit about the law on building on new sites. It was here in Lyon where there were the first laws which prohibited all forms of digging before an archaeological survey of the land. I couldn't understand the rest of the classes, it was really difficult.


The thing that I found the most fascinating was the Roman religion and mythology before the Empire was converted to Christianity under the reign of Constantine the Great. It was really interesting to listen to the information about all the Gods and Demigods and all the things that the two represented, including wine! Each God had its own story and mythology. In fact, when I was in Decitre, I found a little book with all of the Roman mythology. I was tempted to buy it but I decided to wait a little bit. It was also fascinating that the Gods appeared in other civilisations too, but sometimes in forms that are a bit different. Also, I like the way that these Gods are still used now to represent certain things, or that their names are used for some products or businesses more than 2000 years later.


The last thing that I listened to was about the Roman influence and I thought that although the Roman civilisation is dead, there are still things from that era that are with us today. French law is based on Roman laws and we have the calendar we use today thanks to Julius Ceasar. In addition, although the Roman Empire may have eventually died out, the language still remains and it was actually the Gaulish language that was suppressed and lost, as Latin was written and well documented.


I can't say the Musée gallo-romain will take much time to go round, but it is very fascinating, especially with an audio guide. The visit was really useful to reinforce the things that I'd learnt at university and I liked the fact that I wasn't in my room. The museum was nearly empty which was good for me because I was quite free to look at everything and I could take photos too. There were places to sit down and watch old films about the Romans, which provided a good place to rest my legs and take useful notes, but the written French in the museum wasn't difficult to understand.


I left the museum by walking through the ruins of the Roman ampitheatre, heading back home. There were more clouds in the sky now, but it was still nice out. I wanted to take the funicular to St Juste so I went to Minimes, but when I got to the funicular station, it was a bit confusing for me. The sign said that I needed to go to the platform on the right, so I waited there for a few minutes, then I found that it was for the funicular to Old Lyon. So, in order to catch the next funicular, I went to the other platform. Ten minutes later, the funicular arrived and it was headed towards Old Lyon again. I didn't feel confident in getting the funicular anymore so I decided to get on the C20 or C20E bus from Bellecour to Soane instead. I had to run to catch the bus as I saw it at the bridge already but thanks to traffic and other cars, I got to the St Irénée bus stop in time. I was pretty happy to go back to mine because as I wrote articles for my blog, the weather became more and more gloomy and an hour later the rain which the weather forecast promised finally arrived.

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