Second city relishes its taste of fame
One of the country’s most respected commentators on Russia, the EU and the US, Mary Dejevsky has worked as a foreign correspondent all over the world, including Washington, Paris and Moscow. She is now the chief editorial writer and a columnist at The Independent and regularly appears on radio and television. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham.
Friday 28 June 1996
Lyons itself has pulled out all the stops: the national flags of the seven countries, plus the European flag, wave all over the city. The central streets are decked out like a ship on her maiden voyage. The buses trundle round town with a pair of flags on the front - a French tricolour and one other, producing the arresting sight of a solid Lyons bus with the stars and stripes up front. And the gods have been kind: bringing Mediterranean sunshine that flatters the golden stone and turns the city's two rivers (Rhone and Saone) deep blue.
Here and there, however, are touching signs that Lyons is a second city, not (yet) a world city. Obvious visitors are stared at with touching naivety by curious natives. One of the letters that spells "Credit Lyonnais" at the top of the bank's dominating tower does not light up - a defect you feel might have been rectified before a similar event in Paris. And while cultivating its reputation for gastronomy, Lyons is also being ultra-careful: hygiene inspectors have been checking the city's hundreds of restaurants with extra zeal: "Given Lyons' culinary reputation, it would be desperately embarrassing if there were an outbreak of food poisoning just as the eyes of the world are upon us," the city's chief hygiene officer said.
Was it Paris or Lyons that selected the hotels for the delegations with such a delicate sense of irony? The hotel of the EU delegation, the Hotel de la Cour des Loges, is in Rue du Boeuf.
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