Keeping up with yesterday’s nostalgia, here’s a look back at a beautiful weekend spent in Lyon about a little over a year ago…
For a three day Easter weekend, and a belated celebration of Diego’s birthday, we headed to Lyon for some rest, relaxation, and tourism. Being just a two hour drive from Dijon, we had already visited Lyon on and cold and rainy December day when we visited the traboules-tunnels that link buildings in old Lyon which were once used by the silk makers in the city. We enjoyed the afternoon, in the city but the rain and cold did put a damper on things, and we decided to go back when the weather was better. So, with north Lyon under our belts, we decided to focus this trip on the other part of the old town, famous for the bouchon restaurants, pink pralines, puppets, and museums.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon, checked into our hotel and headed to the metro where we bought a convenient day pass and headed to the cathedral. A typical Gothic cathedral with bright white stone facades and delicate stained glass, we were most impressed with the astronomical clock. Dating back to the 14th century; it still works, marking the hour, minutes, day and month, yearly holidays, and position of the sun and moon. The figures that decorate the top come and go when the hour strikes. Today you can see them in action four times a day in the early afternoon.
Vieux Lyon was lovely with buildings painted in warm yellows and pinks. The oldest part of the city, the first buildings here were built in the 11th and 12th century. Cafes and bouchons line the streets and the traditional Guignol puppets are in every shop window. People wait in lines at bakeries to try the famous Lyon praline-almonds and sugar, dyed bright red. Traditional bite size pralines, praline tarts, and praline brioche are everywhere, and combined with the crepe and waffle stands up and down the streets, the city smells distinctively sweet.
There are endless bouchons to choose from. Most of them say they are the veritable bouchon lyonnais and offer more or less the same menu for the same price. We decided to head into the L’Amphitryon as its decor seemed the most absurd and there was barely elbow room between tables. The waiter somehow made room for us and we settled in with a family who was just about to get their bill. Lyon cuisine is said to be the real French kitchen-using traditional ingredients and some of the less typical (offal and sweetbreads). The andouille sausage, made with layers of tripe, and other sweetbread dishes are their claim to fame. I consider myself an adventurous eater, but I do draw a line with stomachs and animal feet. I ordered an onion tart and a turkey fricassée. Both were delicious-the tart delicate with a buttery crust, the fricassée like a pot pie without crust. Diego was brave and ordered a salad with some sweetbreads and a steak with shallot sauce. The highlight was the dessert. The crème brûlée was perfect and the chocolate fondant was creamy and rich.
On Sunday, we attempted to visit the museum of the French resistance (closed) and the textile museum (closed too) we headed to the Lumiere Museum. Located in the house where the family lived-an art nouveau treasure-we learned about the history of film and watched the first film ever shown in Paris. The museum has a Wall of Film Makers and a cinema where they hold festivals and showings of old and new films.
In the evening we took a sunset stroll to the Basilica that rests about the city. The cable car ride is included in the metro pass and takes you up the hill through dark tunnels to reach the top. From the hill the views are spectacular, the huge main plaza of the city looks tiny and the Rhone and Seine rivers carve their way around the town.
A beautiful and busy weekend, Lyon was a perfect escape! Filled with life and culture, you’re sure to find more than enough to see, eat, and drink. There is still so much we missed! Add it to your list of places to see in France and spend a few days in the beautiful and friendly city.
Have you been to Lyon? Any other recommendations?
Spend some time getting lost in the Saint George neighborhood, where you’ll find the cathedral, the tram up to the Basilica, endless bouchons, and bright pink pralines. Take Metro line 4 to the stop Vieux Lyon, start at the cathedral and follow Rue St. Jean north.
To get to the Institute Lumiere take the metro to the Montplaisir-Lumiere stop. Tickets cost 6 euros and it is open Tuesday- Sunday from 11am until 6:30 pm.