Some days ago, I submitted three photos of mine to a competition which theme was “Your ideal Lyon”. And… I didn’t win. Despite the natural disappointment that followed, though, I really enjoyed entering the competition and thinking about what my ideal Lyon is.
My love for Lyon is not one of these “love at first sight” stories one might tell when coming back from holidays in a place that looks like Heaven on Earth once existed. On the contrary, I spent quite a long time without finding anything admirable in the city I was living in, and it took a lot of time for come to appreciate the city and what it had to offer. Quite some time, and living abroad. You sometimes need to leave in order to realize you were right where you belonged, I guess.
When I first fell in love with Lyon, I fell in love with its rich history. Of course, Lyon, as the ancient Roman capital city of the Gaules, has a lot to tell. But the Lyon I loved then, my “ideal” Lyon, was the Lyon of the Renaissance era, the Lyon that made me think of Rabelais, one of the most famous French humanists. It was that Italian Lyon, with richly decorated facades, complicated yet ingenious architecture. So many stories were hidden in the traboules of Vieux Lyon, and these narrow streets, with rich colors and yet worn out walls, hiding secret passages and courtyards, made Lyon feel like an organic city, and knowing all these passages and courtyards made me feel like a part of it. I learned everything I could on Lyon and Vieux Lyon to organize visits for my friends who were not from the city. I wanted to share that ideal Lyon I had found in Vieux Lyon and in books. That was my first ideal Lyon.
When I returned from my journey in Shanghai, China, another ideal Lyon surfaced in my mind. That was when photography became a serious hobby for me, a hobby in which I invested time and money. Re-discovering Lyon with a camera in hand was eye-opening : I began to enjoy other districts in the city for all the hidden treasures I had yet not taken the time to see, too obsessed with Vieux Lyon and its old Renaissance buildings. That’s when I started exploring Croix-Rousse, Fourvière and Presqu’Île more. The ideal Lyon was the one I discovered every time I took the time to visit it in the morning, in the evening, with friends, alone, etc.
Then I grew more skilled in photography, somehow more demanding on the results I wanted, and I began to chase for pictures more than novelties. I guess this is the ideal Lyon I’m showing in my pictures right now. It’s almost always the same Lyon, almost always the same pictures, yet at different times. It’s an ideal Lyon I’m chasing and yet seem not to be able to grasp, and thus, I keep taking pictures of the same places every time I go to Lyon. I sometimes fear it might have made my pictures a bit boring, but still, I’m not convinced yet by all the photos I’ve taken, and I feel I could take an even better photo. More than an ideal Lyon, it would be more accurate to talk about Lyon as an ideal. Because whenever I come to Lyon and take the time to take pictures of it, I try to take the best picture I can of a city which I feel I haven’t photographed properly yet.
And that’s when I think about unachieved (and unachievable) quest for a perfect photo of Lyon that I realize that more than Lyon itself, the ideal Lyon for me is the Lyon that I can share. Because if I love Lyon so much, it’s also because it’s a love that I can share. When I visit the traboules with friends, when I give some tips to a colleague on what to visit when they go to Lyon, when I share pictures on the web and realize some people have become more interested in the city thanks to them : that’s my ideal Lyon. And that’s all this article is about : my ideal Lyon is the one I’m sharing right now, and the one I hope I’ll keep sharing as long as I have the opportunity to visit it.