So today we went visit my parents in Saint-Priest. This is the city I grew up in for most of my young life (from 5 till 20 years old). As is often the case with childhood memories, I have fond memories of it. Time tends to color everything with the rosy touch of nostalgia.
Of course not everything was great in old Saint-Priest. It is located at the south-east of Lyon. Not the nice western suburbs, but one of the impoverished “ghettos” of the east. Around its historical center with its lovely castle, it has grown lots of “HLM” (social housing) and other lifeless blocks to accommodate a huge population expansion (20,000 to 40,000 between 1950 and 1970).
My parents bought a flat on the outskirt of the city, in a newly constructed building in a neighborhood composed of houses and a few huge flats buildings. There was a lot of delinquency problems in the first years. Lots of squatters that made inhabitants uneasy. Not a lot of life there.
And now, more than 10 years after I left Porte-Joie, I am back to a different pictures. You can still see stigmata of the past: no more benches on the central square; CCTV in action. But they are new shops that opened. A lot of new neighborhood got built along the tramway linking Saint-Priest to Lyon. The forsaken fields above our neighborhood became a nicely kept park for a walk. A lot of things changed, for the better. It warmed my heart to see that.