As I mentioned in the earlier post today it’s our Anniversary, and hopefully after 40 years we’re starting to get the hang of this marriage thing. So far we’re both very happy, and you can’t go far wrong when you start there, can you.
Our day started out early again, as we had a walking tour planned for the city of Vienne. It is pronounced just as we would say Vienna, and comes from an ancient Gaul word that means Swamp. It’s far from a swamp today, and was a charming small city to visit.
It was originally inhabited about 500BC by Celtic tribes who created the region called Gaul which covered much of France, Belgium Switzerland and northern Italy. They were defeated by Julius Caesar about 100 BC. The Romans ruled until approximately 500 AD when the Franks took over and not much happened until the Medieval era. I gather the Germanic tribes were efficient, just not very creative.
We walked directly into town from the ship, and saw the oldest church in Europe, St Peter’s which was originally constructed in the late 5th century, but has been damaged and rebuilt several times since. It is now a museum.
We also toured the St Maurice cathedral which makes St Peter’s look small. It’s virtually right next door, and at one time I believe I heard that Vienne had a church for every 200 people in the city. Since each church held 300-400 people it was a bit overbuilt.
As it took several decades if not hundreds of years to complete some of these cathedrals it was interesting to see the different styles of architecture used in their construction. I am by no means an expert in Gothic, Romanesque or Renaissance building techniques, but you can see in the picture above that the door on the right is topped by a sharply pointed facade. Over the main door on the left the same sort of structure was begun and then abandoned when the next builder decided that a delicate stained glass window was a better idea. Many of the more elaborate sculptures carved into the building were either destroyed or at the very least beheaded during the Religious Wars after the Renaissance era. Those that survived were likely abused again during the French Revolution. What goes around, comes around.
Part of our tour took us to the highest spot in town where unsurprisingly there was another church. There was also a spectacular view of the town, a Roman Amphitheater and the Rhone River.
Many Roman structures remain here, but many more were dismantled to provide building materials required to construct subsequent buildings such as Cathedrals.
This Roman Temple is mainly intact, but has been used as a library and several other municipal facilities. There are several large divots cut into the columns dating from when there were walls built up between them.
All too soon we were back at the ship and on our way to Lyon. We had a short walking tour around the city which so far looks substantially younger than most of the places we’ve visited so far. Some of the buildings were actually built in the last century, though by no means all of them.
It is another charming city, with endless curving streets and tiny alleys between shopping and cafe districts.
We get to tour it again tomorrow, but this excursion was a last minute add on to our published itinerary, and with all the food we have been eating, any chance to go for a walk is much appreciated. There is a walking track on the top deck, but due to the many low bridges we pass under it is almost always cordoned off. The Wheelhouse for the ship is up there, and it is on a platform that sinks into the deck when we reach a particularly low bridge.
Our evening was spent sharing a special dinner with new friends. We were then surprised by the crew presenting us with a cake with a Huge sparkler in it and a rendition of Its now or Never’.
Dave and Marlene
Sharon and Marty(he never smiles)
And Lisa and Tony all shared a great meal with us. When we crawled back to our room much later we were greeted by balloons, candies, sparkling wine and strawberries, much to our surprise.
It was a great day, and tomorrow should be just as good as we start on our next 40 together.