Self-organised refugee squat, smoothie bike and a huge collection of bike parts in Lyon

We arrived in the evening in Lyon at a squatted Villa in the Sans Souci quarter. There we were greeted by a few of the house’s residents, the majority of which come from Guinea. They have been living in the house for about 3 years. We set up our tents in the garden with the chickens and fell asleep to the noisy city sounds in the background.

We woke up refreshed the next morning and had a circle (our word for a meeting) and discussed various topics, including alcohol consumption within the group, what we are doing in Lyon and our plans for the next 2 weeks.

In the afternoon some people went to the anarchist library and got a tour.

On our second full day in Lyon we started the day in Grrrnd Zero Social Centre, an alternative concert and workshop space in the far east of the city. Although it was summer break, we had a tour of the place and saw how much they had built in the 6 years since they moved in. The concert room and bar was spacious and full with self-printed posters from the screen-printing workshop and artwork from a local artist. In the back of the concert room was self-built band practice rooms and recording studios, offering cheap options for bands who don’t want or can’t afford the high prices of commercial recording studios. In the other building there was many different studios and workshops such as screenprinting, artist studios and a wonderful queer library.

Here a person from the library gave us a tour and explained how it worked. They are well-connected with other independent libraries in France. The book collection started out with donations from people’s personal book collections and then expanded – now they have shelves full with books in English and French, Zine collection, and magazines. We all were very impressed and spent hours browsing the shelves and finding new inspiration for books to read.

In the afternoon we went to the Atelier du Chat Perché, a bike workshop in Lyon. People can pay 20€ per year to have access to the workshop space, tools and spare parts for donation. The workshop was huge! When we arrived at least 12 people were working on their bikes at the same time. The spare parts filled every storage space and were impressively organised, and everywhere was posters explaining different bike parts, for example different types of brakes, with hand-drawn pictures and lots of information. The whole place has a cat theme, from the giant perching cat over the entrance to small cat ornaments hidden above the shelves. They also had a wide range of used bikes for sale at affordable prices.

In the evening a person from Lyon visited us and brought her smoothie bike with her, and a massive amount of rescued fruit from the market. The bike can work as a regular bike, or power a blender on the back rack. We pedaled and drank tasty smoothies and then had a big dinner with our hosts at the squat. They explained to us how they came to be living in the house and that they had grown together as a community and that even if they had to leave, some people would try and stay together.

The next day we slowly left Lyon, with some new people and saying goodbye to some people not joining us further, and headed towards our next destination.

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