The Dreyfus affair and what the French still feel.

I had just finished reading ‘An Officer and a Spy’ by Robert Harris. A sugar coated historical novel it may be, but well researched and it led to an interesting after dinner conversation.

I knew a bit about the Dreyfus Affair as a keen reader of the books by Emile Zola who got so involved in the scandal by supporting Drefus he had to leave France for a period of time. If it is new to you, look it up, but basically it was about a scandal within the army involving spies, politicians and a wrongly accused soldier who was imprisoned in the horrible Devils Island . The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906.

The reason I mention it ( yes I’ll get to the point ) is that I had dinner with some French friends while I was in Lyon and I mentioned what I had just read this and they were telling me it is still remembered today, that being by people in their sixties or there about. The aftermath is fading but that demonstrates the severity of the scandal especially as it exposed antisemitic feelings withing the army and the government and not to mention that France is a catholic country. Anyway it just goes to show how long these events can cast a shadow over a country. Think about the country where you come from, I’m sure you could site a similar political skeleton in a cupboard somewhere .

Still on the religious theme I enjoyed some visits to a number of churches. I have already mentioned Basilica of Notre-Dame but as I continued my exploration I felt it must be church restoration time in Lyon as many were covered in scaffolding inside or out with sheets covering great areas. But it did not spoil my enjoyment, especially when I went into one to see work in progress and a lady repairing a very distressed large oil painting.

When I went to Paris I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the stained glass windows in Sainte Chapelle, well I enjoyed some equally good ones in Lyons such as in Eglise St Bonaventure.

There are of course plenty of churches to enjoy including the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon which is in vieux Lyon, a magnificent building which also has an astronomical clock. The cathedral is a short walk to the funicular to take you up to Fourviere. ALSO, should you need it there is a very clean and free public loo near the metro and funicula station. Always worth knowing in France.