Le Petit Tour de France: Lyon

After leaving the Côte d’Azur, I took the train north to Lyon. The second largest metropolitan area in France after Paris, Lyon is a truly wonderful city with much to explore. After spending a week there, I’ve only scratched the surface!

 

The heart of the city sits between two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, on a narrow peninsula called “Presqu’île” (literal translation: “Almost Island”). There are two major hills, one to the west and the other to the north. On the western hill, Fourvière ( also known as “The Hill That Prays”), you’ll find the lovely Basilique de Notre Dame and some fascinating Roman ruins. On the northern hill, la Croix-Rousse (“The Hill That Works”), you’ll find vibrant residential neighborhoods packed with shops and cafés. Traditionally, this area was home to the silk-making/weaving industry and its workers, and is where I stayed with friends during my visit.

 

I spent my days wandering through the neighborhoods of la Croix-Rousse, walking down the hill into the bustling Presqu’île area, strolling along the two beautiful rivers, and exploring the cobblestoned streets of Vieux Lyon. It was the second week of November, and the leaves were changing – Autumn had finally arrived in France! (Or rather, I was finally in a place to see it – the Blue Coast isn’t exactly the place to find Fall colors). What a great week it was!

In la Croix-Rousse…

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A ragtag group of musicians I found performing in the streets of la Croix-Rousse… Check out this VIDEO of them playing…

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A carnival around the corner from where I was staying…

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Popular autumn fair food in France – roasted chestnuts…

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Views of the city from la Croix-Rousse…

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Walking down the hill towards la Presqu’île

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There’s some great street art on “la Montée de la Grande Côte,” this hillside pedestrian path…

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And on another path down the hill…

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In la Presqu’île, Place des Terreaux and the Hôtel de Ville…

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The lovely courtyard at the Musée des Beaux-Arts…

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On rue de la publique and in other various parts of la Presqu’île…

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I noticed that many of the buildings in Lyon have statues of Mary and Jesus on the corners…

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Église Saint-Nizier…

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Place Bellecour…

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Basilique Saint Martin-d’Ainay…

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“La Fresque des Lyonnais Célèbres,” an enormous mural depicting famous people from Lyon throughout history…

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Some street art found around town…

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An open-air market along the banks of the Saône river…

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The Saône is sandwhiched between la Presqu’île and Vieux Lyon (“Old Lyon”).  There are several beautiful bridges and of course, the gorgeous views – I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

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The Rhône river runs along the east side of la Presqu’île – its banks have a distinctly more modern feel than those of the Saône

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In the charming streets of Vieux Lyon…

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I took a tour of the “traboules” in Vieux Lyon – hidden passageways that connect buildings and streets together.  They were originally built for the transport of products (primarily those from the silk industry), and were also used by the French Resistance during WWII.  Now these passageways and hidden courtyards mostly function as entrances to private residences – many of them are still open to the public, though…

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In one courtyard, our tour group was lucky to run into the proprietor of this stange little place.  Unfortunately, everything was discussed in French, so I didn’t quite catch what it was exactly.  Oh, well…  It was a fun little adventure anyway!

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The famous Cathédrale Saint-Jean in Vieux Lyon…

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The Cathedral’s famous mechanical astronomical clock – one of the oldest like this in Europe, it indicates the time and date as well as the position of the earth, sun, moon, and stars over Lyon.  Ringing four times a day, spectators are treated to a little show of its mechanical moving parts at the top…

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The back of the Cathedral where there are ruins of part of the original structure…

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And down the road, l’Église Saint-Georges…

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Climbing up the hill Fourvière from Vieux Lyon…

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Heading to the very top to see the Basilique Notre Dame…

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Unfortunately, the interior was covered in scaffolding when I was there…

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…but I still managed to get a good look at the incredible mosiacs…

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In the lower level of the Basilica…

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Views of the city from the backside of the Basilica grounds…

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Just down the road from the Basilica, you’ll find the ruins of a Roman theater that date back to 15 B.C. …

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A model depicting what the theather looked like when it was first built…

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Back down the hill on the northeastern side of town, there’s the lovely Parc de la Tête d’Or (“The Golden Head Park”) with its wonderful greenhouses and botanical gardens, beautiful lake, and free zoo.  A nice place to pass an afternoon, indeed!

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And some scenes from evening strolls through the city…

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And one last little note about Lyon before I end this post:  If you ever go there, be sure to try the Lyonnaise specialties, “tarte aux pralines” and “brioche aux pralines.”  Yes, their color looks frighteningly artificial, but don’t let that throw you – they are soooo very tasty!

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And that about wraps it up for my lovely week in Lyon. I do have a bit more to share with you in the next post, however – images from my visit to the weird and wonderful Musée Miniature et Cinéma in Vieux Lyon and a small day-trip to the nearby village of Pérouges… Coming soon!  À bientôt!

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