Hard not to like Lyon. Admittedly only scratched the surface of the itch given it is May 1 and a big public holiday in this part of the world . Add to that the fact most museums and galleries are closed on a Tuesday in France and you’ll find yourself looking at the outside of buildings not in them. However that’s OK given the attractiveness of Lyon.
Situated 470 km south-south-east of Paris at the confluence (word of the day) of the Rhône and Saone rivers it’s France’s 3rd largest city and second largest metropolitan area. With a population of 1.8 million it may well be the biggest city I visit on this ride. Locals are known as “Lyonnais” and from my brief experience of engaging with them they’re a lot more laid back and friendly than the Parisians . Lyon is also considered the gastronomic capital of France.
Any city based around two rivers and built into surrounding hills is always going to be full of character and sitting above it all is the most impressive of architectural structures, is the Basilica of Notre-Dame Fourviere. I am not at all religious but if you only do one thing in Lyon then you MUST visit this site. Walk the many steps from the old town up the hill through the small forest and be prepared to be completely overawed at not just view of Lyon from the forecourt but also the truly stunning and beautiful interior of the building. It has to be seen to be believed.
Basilica Notre-Dame Fourviere (BNDF) I.... front steps
BNDF II - front door
BNDF II - looking up at the ceiling from a pew
BNDF III - flooring . Hundreds of thousands small mosaic tiles all painstakingly individually laid.
BNDF IV - walls adorned with mosaic tiles depicting religious scenes and stories
BNDF V - there’s that roof again. The enormity of the interior , the attention to detail, the sheer magnificence of your surrounds will leave you awe struck to the extent you’ll leave with a sore neck (from looking up for so long ) and a dry throat (from leaving your mouth open as you gape at the brilliance of what you are looking at)
BNDF VI - “Just” another small (about 15 ft in height) statue that you pass by in the corridors linking the main hall to the crypts.
Lyonnaise Street art
Lyonnaise Street art II
Lyonnaise Street art III - Yup you see right. The entire side of a building .
Any city surrounded by and built into hills is going to have a few steps.
Any city with a shop selling indigenous art from the Australian and Pacific area , (including Papouaise !) is going to rank high in on my list of places to revisit .
Fontaines Des Jacobins
Place des Terreaux
Being May 1 in France it is not only a public holiday to celebrate workers rights but also the day you hand a pose of Lilly-of-the-Valley flowers or dog rose flowers to your loved one. No lack then of floral entrepreneurs on every street corner .
So Lyon. Au Revoir tomorrow after an altogether too brief a stay but fear not we shall definitively return. As an aside in respect to that return , if any of you are contemplating visiting you could do worse than go onto Air BnB and book to stay at
“Designers apartment in Lyon , unique and romantic “ - Hosted by Jérôme and located in Place de la Baliene . Simply a stunning apartment , beautifully appointed with every amenitiy and in the heart of the old town. Add to that a host , Jérôme, who was ridiculously generous with his time and you’d be silly to look elsewhere.
Thanks too also to my lovely wife , K , who flew out to spend the 36 hours I had in Lyon. Often it’s who you share an experience with and not just the experience that enhances the occasion.