Tuesday 26 February 2019

Musée Cinéma et Miniature - Lyon

When looking for things to do in Lyon on our whistlestop tour of France I didn't have to look far for the number one, unmissable attraction; The Musée Cinéma et Miniature.

The Museum houses an incredibly impressive collection of props, prosthetics, models and minatures from a huge array of films including; Star Wars, Batman, Terminator, Flash Gordon, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Beetlejuice, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean, V for Vendetta, Robocop, Nightmare on Elm Street, Chucky, Gremlins, Fifth Element, Mars Attacks, various Marvel and DC films and of course, the main reason we were there; the Alien franchise.

Last thing I had heard the Alien Queen from Aliens was somewhere in America, and I know a lot of props Alien vanished after filming. Bulldozed (like the sets), taken home by crew, but not where they rightfully belong, in a museum for fans to enjoy. So as you might imagine finding out several pieces of Alien history were right here in Lyon waiting for me was a dream come true and a must see stop off. The greatest surprise was the Alien Queen who was in a darkened room with working animatronics and sound effects. The Queen needs restoring back to her former glory, but when she is she will have hundreds of movements to terrorize visitors, something I'm more than happy for my ticket money to help towards!

Having never been to a museum like this before I was very impressed with the content, atmosphere and lay out. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in the pieces of cinema history around them and the sense of nostalgia for many there seemed great (perhaps less so for children visiting as many of the films featured would be well before their time). There was excitement around every corner as you spotted another well loved character, reminisced on some of your favourite films or marveled at the technical work and time invested in the smallest of things.

One of the most impressive features within the museum were the fully reconstructed sets for the movie 'Perfume: the story of a murderer'. The complexity and intricate details were just incredible, and seeing these complete scenes laid out before you was just wonderful. I have seen the film a number of times and while quite harrowing and often hard to stomach, the film is none the less brilliant.

Everything about the museum screamed perfection, precision and detail. I imagine the founder or team who put together this incredible collection to be so dedicated and utter film fanatics! The museum is a must visit for any film fan in Lyon or nearby. I only hope that with continuing support this amazing museum continues to grow and amass an even larger collection of silver screen memorabilia for future generations to treasure. 

For more information and to plan a visit to the Museum visit: https://www.museeminiatureetcinema.fr/en/

Monday 18 February 2019

Pere Lachaise

Almost 7 years ago today I was in Paris with my university comrades, with the purpose of visiting Premiere Vision Design show. But, admittedly, after a short time looking at the endless booths of fabric and frowning faces warding off students I wasn't feeling the inspiration the trip was supposed to be filling me with. I became hungry for the richer, darker things that Paris had to offer. So at some point during the trip my good friend Stacey Bell and I decided to explore one of the most ground breaking cemeteries in the world; Pere Lachaise.
I still look back on that experience with very fond memories, and for that reason I've always wanted to return to Pere Lachaise to explore more of the utterly vast cemetery.

Luckily, the Roadtrip provided another perfect opportunity to return to this incredible place and I (utterly deliberately of course) picked us a hotel which was just a couple of minutes walk from Pere Lachaise.

By the time we arrived in Paris from Rouen and sorted out a little parking issue and checked into the hotel there was just enough time for an afternoon stroll around Pere LaChaise in the barmy June sunshine shaded by the many trees, with my sandals rubbing on my heel in the cruelest way possible.

Learning from a previous mistake I insisted we purchase a map, there was no guarentee of bumping into an American Nuclear Physicist with a map to guide me a second time! The cemetery is so incredibly vast without a map it is easy to become lost in this labyrinth of the dead. At 110 acres and over a million graves Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery I've ever visited and has some of the most spectacular monuments. Never for a second are you short of somewhere to look.

Eventually the afternoon wore on, and the toll of the attendants bell marked the end of our visit and urged my poor foot towards rest with a Belgian Beer on the bustling street where the frivolities of life continued. I felt contented at finally making it back to Pere Lachaise over 6 years after my first visit. Exploring another tiny strip of this beautiful cemetery was something I had wanted to do for so long. I must make sure its not another 6 years before I return to glimpse another corner of this amazing place.

Monday 11 February 2019

Return to Paris Catacombs

Since my initial visit to the Paris Catacombs a number of years ago I have long dreamed of returning to this breathtaking, utterly unique place. Finally now our road trip was taking us through Paris providing the perfect chance to return to the Empire of the dead.

Unfortunately the timing of the trip was not the greatest, and for months on the run up to our visit the catacombs workers were on strike, meaning it was closed to the public for some time. As the time for our visit crept nearer, the dispute was still unresolved, and I began to fear there was no chance of making it to the catacombs this time, a very distressing thought as it was one of the main reasons we were stopping in Paris at all and to be one of the highlights of the trip.

By some miracle our luck was in, the Catacombs reopened for business just in time. We arrived early in the morning to join the infamous line to enter, I decided against pre-booking due to the uncertainty created by the strike, and on my previous visit I waited just under an hour to gain entry. Though after over 3 hours in the baking hot sun with little to no shade I certainly regretted it. The amount of time spent waiting compared to actually absorbing the atmosphere of the catacombs did leave a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth, which was a real shame.

And in the few short years since I last visited the world has changed. And not necessarily for the better. The selfie reigns supreme and the selfie stick is the sceptre of every self obsessed idiot roaming the planet. I remember a couple of annoying people posing for photos with the remains and one woman talking loudly on my first visit. But this time the catacombs seemed full of people hell bent on destroying the tranquil, uniquely beautiful atmosphere which I know this place possesses when unpolluted by the living. As ever I tried to block out these distractions and focus on capturing the macabre beauty that lays within these tunnels.

Eventually I blocked out those around me and immersed myself in the Catacombs once again. I couldn't decide if it was an illusion, my memory playing tricks on me or in fact the truth but the death and decay in these tunnels seems to be a living, breathing entity. Since my previous visit more water drips than I remember, moss grows here and there coating some skulls in a macabre green film as if claiming them back for nature and bones are damaged, displaced and some clearly the victim of meddling visitors fingers. The neat order of death I witnessed previously feels a little more decrepit, and little more fractured and ebbed away by more time and further decay.

This was a strange idea to me, as I had initially viewed these bones picked clean by time and entirely skeletal upon their arrival at the catacombs as the end product of decay, when I suppose in reality even in these tunnels the remains will continue to deteriorate and eventually become dust or brittle fragments if left uncared for. A strange thought, I don't know why it had never occurred to me previously.

Ultimately I dream one day of wandering the empire of the dead alone. The only living soul paying tribute and admiring all these beings, wondering what lives they lived as I wander through the tunnels. As ever the Catacombs are a truly unique place with a pure beauty and a staggering effect when you see the thousands upon thousands of bones delicately lining the tunnels. I hope if I one day return to the Catacombs once more sections which were previously accessible (and are now not) are open again, such as the quarry men's carvings. And I hope people will have learned how to show a little more respect and give the dead the dignity they deserve when visiting their great empire.