The third largest city in France, Lyon is often overlooked by visitors for it's more popular sister-city; Paris. Lyon has an interesting history that dates back to the Roman times and has very intact Roman ruins that can be found around the city. Being located on the Rhône and Saône Rivers, Lyon has a unique cultural feel which is distinctly different than what you find in Paris. A UNESCO World Heritage site, a gastronomic foodie paradise, and an elegant city, Lyon should not be skipped on your next trip.
We stayed in an AirBnB apartment in the Vieux Lyon area; the old town which is all inside of the UNESCO World Heritage area. Our building was built in the 13th century; this was the wealthy part of town back then and it can be seen in the well kept architecture. Right out our door were the cobblestones alleyways and shops of the old town.
We got off the train with jackets and layers on and quickly found out it was 70 degrees. Our good luck streak of weather continues! A daily outdoor market parallels the river, locals grabbed some drinks and various foods to enjoy while soaking up the sunshine. Our recommendation, find the oyster guy!
Hidden throughout Lyon are the famous "traboules" or covered passageways that weave around the city. These passageways are something new we discovered on this visit to France that can be found in many of the cities. We love them. They are sometimes hard to find and make for a fun treasure hunt and you never know what to expect inside. The ones in Lyon are different than those in Paris. The ones in Paris are full of shops and cafes always bustling with people. In Lyon the passageways are empty with stone pillars and pastel light that cascades down over the colored archways. Your voices echo as you meander through and eventually pop out on the other side. In modern day Lyon these traboules are used for residential access, but they were first built for silk traders to move their product easily through the city.
Lyon is a food paradise, but in a different way than other cities. The food here tells a story of past and present. Of course Lyon is famous for its numerous Michelin rated restaurants, but the real star here is the "bouchons." Bouchon is the name for a restaurant found only in Lyon serving up traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. The food is very inexpensive in comparison to other cities, and the portions are large. We found numerous bouchons offering four course meals for 15-19 euros, an example meal would be french onion soup, braised meat of some kind, cheese course, and a dessert. The food is very traditional french, every last piece of the animal is being used in one way or another. Eating in Lyon was different than anywhere else we have ever been. Its old school French food done just right and not over complicated.
La Basilque Notre Dame de Fourviere sits elegantly on top of the hill overlooking Lyon. At night it is illuminated and can be seen from anywhere in the city. Not only was the outside stunning but when we walked inside it took our breath away. Giant mosaics on the walls portray Bible scenes and the towering ceiling glistened with a gold and turquoise facade. One of our favorite churches in all of Europe.
The view from the church on the hill, on clear day just to the left of the slanted roof highrise building you can see Mont Blanc and the French Alps.
These Roman ruin theaters were built in 15 BC. Yeah, this city has some serious history. These theaters still host concert performances today. Very cool.
While we were in Lyon the tragic events that occurred in Paris took place. We received so many concerned messages from family and friends back home, making sure we were okay. And we thank you guys for that. It was definitely a scary experience being so close. We had just been in Paris, one of our favorite cities, and have plans to return in a few weeks. For this to happen right in the middle of our two visits was simply scary. We've been able to see how France and Europe have reacted and joined together after this horrific event. Throughout Lyon there were memorials for those lost and the Palais de Justice was lit up in the French colors. Being here in Lyon, while all these events unfolded is something we will never forget.