Monday, June 20, 2016

More Touring Saint Etienne. Plus #SVKENG

Pre-game street scene in Center-ville Saint-Etienne
The center of this trip was the trip to Saint-Etienne, France, to see two games in the European football championship.  The first game was the eventful Croatia/Czech Republic.  The second game was England/Slovakia.  Start time for the game would not be until 9:00PM local time, which meant a long day to kill in Saint-Etienne.

Pastry is a good way to kill some time.  We would call the above a Napoleon, but in France it was called a "mille-feuille" in French.  No, it was not gluten free.  Sometimes you just got to cheat a little and deal with the consequences later.

Still quiet in Saint-Etienne.  That would change.  But, first, off to the Parc-Musee de la Mine, or Puits Couriot.

Abandon all hope ye who enter.

There was a group of schoolchildren lined up for a tour.  At least I think they were there for a tour.  We never saw them again.  Perhaps they are still working an underground seam.

Saint-Etienne was a major coal-mining center from the mid-19th Century into the 1970s.  This is a statue that was erected with great fanfare at the mine in 1920.

They had a collection of photographs on display from the 1900 era of mineworkers and was were, literally, "working families."  Not in the sense that politicians use the phrase today, but in the sense of the whole family worked the mine.

These were from noted French photographer (and Saint-Etienne local) Felix Thiollier.

This is a view of the top-landing.  And this is where the miners hung their equipment:

Has a "gallows" feel to it, doesn't it?  This is the shower:

These were very depressing safety posters:

They also looked vaguely communistic, but that's just me.

The "chevalement," or top-landing.  There were stairs on the side.  You could once climb it.  I was "willing" to climb.  But, alas, the stairs were cordoned off.  No climbing the chevalement in 2016.

Under the chevalement.

Heading back to the exhibit area, with one of the old slap heaps visible.  It's now largely green with a bald-headed top spot.  They said that on cold days you can see steam rising from the old slag heaps as heat is still escaping.

Here is a view of the entire Parc-Musee de la Mine:

One of the best museum experiences to be had in Saint-Etienne.  Of course, Saint-Etienne is not exactly Paris when it comes to museum.

Uh-oh.  Would you look at the clock?  It's getting time to head up to the Satde Geoffroy-Guichard for some football.

Downtown Saint-Etienne was now packed with partisans of the English and Slovakian sides.

The easiest thing to do was walk the half-hour to the stadium.  The police presence was heavier than it was at the Croatian game.  For obvious reasons.

Strangely enough, I only was frisked once.  And that was at a checkpoint where everyone was getting frisked.  Entering the Croatia game, I was frisked twice.  I strongly believe that I was being racially profiled because I looked Croat.  Turns out, at the 81-minute point of the Croatia game, there was a good reason for the profiling.

This is the time during the pre-game when the Slovakia players come out in their civvies to greet the faithful.

This is the pre-game ceremony:

It is difficult to get good photos of game action when you are sitting this far from the pitch.

I could crop and enlarge, but the camera is not professional quality.  Neither is the photographer.

There was a lot of action on our side of the field in the second half.  That was because England was continually trying to score and Slovakia was playing great defense.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie.

It was an exciting 0-0 tie.  England was constantly putting pressure on Slovakia and Slovakia would not relent.  This is something that American sports fans tend not to understand.  Sometimes a nil-nil tie can be exciting.  Sometimes it can be deathly dull.  This was an exciting one.

As a result of this game, England finishes second in its group, which means it advances to the knockout round.  Slovakia finished third in the group, which means it may or may not advance.  Yet after the game, Slovakia fans were ecstatic and the England fans dejected.  Why?  Expectations.  Slovakia does not expect to win.  Drawing against England is a positive outcome for fans who expect nothing more from their team.  For England, they kept the pressure on because they wanted to win the group.  Finishing second meant a game in the knockout round against France.  In France.

To which the England fan next to us remarked:  "We handled France in 1415."  It's not every sports event where the fan next to you makes a Battle of Agincourt allusion.

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