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LYONS-THE RHONE-MARSEILLES--CLIMATE OF PROVENCE
-HYERES AND ITS CLIMATE-CANNES.
The vast majority of English travellers proceeding beyond Paris, take the route by the Orleans and Nevers railroad, or by that of Tonnerre and Dijon to Lyons, on their way to Switzerland, or to Italy and the Mediterranean, whence to most parts of Great Britain there is now uninterrupted steam communication—the line of railroad between Paris and Chalons having been recently completed; and from this town there is constant traffic by steamboat to Lyons and Avignonwhence the railroad is in activity to Marseilles. By the Tonnerre and Chalons route, the scenery is in many parts interesting, especially in the environs of the metropolis, and on the banks of the Seine at Montereau. Some of the views in the forest of Fontainebleau, through which the road passes, are strikingly beautiful. Enormous masses of grey rock, which contrast agreeably with the surrounding foliage, lie scattered about in various directions, presenting a novel and curious appearance. The town possesses some good streets, but seems to be almost deserted. Travellers so disposed may visit the chateau and gardens.
Sens possesses a cathedral, which, however, is inferior to that of Abbeville or Beauvais, and contains nothing particularly worthy of observation. Joigny and Auxerre are pleasantly situated towns on the Yonne, in a fruitful country, producing a superior kind of wine. The golden tint of the vine-leaves in autumn gives a rich and pleasing appearance to some parts of the country between Auxerre and Chalons, which at other times look dreary and cheerless. During the vintage season, the
process of treading the grapes by men and women with bare feet (to which practice allusion is made in the Scriptures), will frequently be seen in the vineyards on the roadside. It is, however, a mistake to suppose, that the peasantry in the wine countries are better off than in others, the reverse being more frequently the case, as great distress ensues if the season should be bad, which not unfrequently happens.
Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, and formerly a city of great importance, is still interesting from its historical associations, and its ducal monuments. A visit to the museum during a day's halt, will afford a pleasing occupation. Chalons is a pretty town, and looks well from a distance. The quays are spacious and hand
Two or three steamers descend the Saone daily to Lyons, making the transit in six hours; they cannot, however, always convey carriages (especially when the water is low), which can be forwarded by a coche d'eau. But few persons, however, now require these encumbrances, so great are the facilities of transit from one place to another. The banks of the river are for the most part flat, and indifferently cultivated about Maçon (half-way), celebrated for its wine; the scenery is pleasing, and increases in interest on approaching Lyons. The road, which runs in great part parallel with the river, passes over Mont d'Or, so called from the rich colour of its vineyards in autumn, and from the summit of which a charming and extensive prospect may be enjoyed of the rich plains of Burgundy on the one side, of the Lyonnois on the other, and of the snow-clad Alps of Dauphiné in the distance. The descent to Lyons passes through a succession of meadow land, orchards, and vineyards.
Lyons is principally built between the Rhone and the Saone; in addition to the old bridge, a suspension bridge has recently been constructed over the latter river. The quays are spacious, but not clean. The principal squares are the Place de Bellecour, perhaps the largest in Europe, and the Place des Terreaux, which contains the Hotel de Ville, and a good museum of natural history. The largest, as well as the finest public edifice, is the hospital, which is surmounted by a dome, its façade occupying a considerable extent of the Quai du Rhone. There are no other public buildings remarkable in an architectural point of view. The streets are mostly narrow and dirty; the houses old and lofty. Lyons consequently offers no inducement to travellers to prolong their sojourn beyond a day. The velvets and silks are justly celebrated, and their manufacture occupies a large proportion of the population. The labouring classes, as in most other manufacturing towns, are for the most part republicans, and turbulent. The view from the Terrasse de Fourvières of the city, the junction of the two rivers, a vast extent of fertile country and vine-clad hills, with the distant view of the Alps, is considered one of the finest in Europe.
Steamboats descend the Rhone to Avignon in ten or eleven hours; one leaving daily at an inconveniently early hour (four o'clock), a second at eleven o'clock, which arrives in the evening at Valence, leaving the next day for Avignon. These boats are larger than those on the Saone, and take carriages; but they are not very clean, the accommodation is inferior, and they are generally disagreeably full of passengers, and laden with merchandise. The scenery is in many parts highly interesting, not unfrequently resembling that of the Rhine below Mayence; the river flowing rapidly between steep hills, ever and anon crowned with ruins, and cut in terraces for the cultivation of the vine. On advancing more to the south, the banks become flatter, and the Alps rise more distinctly upon the view. At the Pont St. Esprit, which is of great antiquity, the current is very strong, and some degree of excitement attends the passing beneath the arch, several accidents having happened at this point. This is the only stone bridge between Lyons and Avignon ; but several handsome suspension bridges have been constructed of late years. When from any cause Avignon is not likely to be reached by daylight, the steamer does not proceed beyond Pont St. Esprit, proceeding the next day to Avignon. On account of the rapid communication by the river (Avignon being distant from Lyons about 140 miles), there is not much travelling downwards by the road along its left bank, which is principally traversed by waggons laden with heavy goods from Marseilles, and is consequently frequently in bad order, especially after heavy rains. The towns are dirty and badly built, and the accommodation indifferent. Nothing but an occasional glimpse of the river, and of the Cevennes range
of hills on the opposite bank, occurs to relieve the monotony of the route till Orange, where a fine Roman arch stands by the road-side, and beyond which the scenery is of a more interesting character. In consequence of the tortuous course of the river during the last portion of the journey, those persons sensitive to atmospheric transitions, should not neglect to take precautions against the alterations of temperature to which they are exposed by remaining on deck.
Avignon is encircled by high walls, and has every appearance of great antiquity. The papal palace, a fine old gothic edifice, with handsome façade, is now converted into barracks. From the top of the hill, on the acclivity of which the town is built, an extensive view may be obtained of the plains of Languedoc and Provence, as also of the course of the river, which is here of great breadth, enclosing an island which serves as a point d'appui to the two bridges across its branches. In the cathedral is the tomb of " le brave Crillon,” and the spot occupied by that of Petrarch's Laura is pointed out among the ruins of the church of the Cordeliers. The environs of Avignon are uninteresting, but an agreeable excursion may be made by those not pressed for time to the
“Chiare, fresche, e dolce acque"
of Vaucluse, about fifteen miles distant.
This fountain, immortalized by the verse of Petrarch, rises in a romantic position at the base of a semicircle of lofty and perpendicular rocks.
Below Avignon the scenery of the Rhone presents