By now, you will know that back in February I visited the city of Lyon in France. As this post suggests, I spent four days exploring everything there is to see and do including the beautiful honey coloured streets of Vieux Lyon, the hilltop Fourviere, the modern area of La Confluence and also a day trip to the pretty medieval town of Perouges.
Our final day in Lyon was to be spent exploring new areas of the city and returning to the Old Town to continue exploring.
The first stop was to be the Parc de la Tête d’Or, just north of our hotel, and so we hopped aboard the bus and rode to the end-station at the Cité Internationale – a modern conference and entertainment centre. As we left the bus, we were greeted by one of the area’s ‘inhabitants’ – a rather large (8.2m tall), orange statue. Art plays a large part in the Cité Internationale, which also is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and positioned around the area there are other works, including a bear, a big penguin, young girl with rollerblades, pizza delivery man, a man on the telephone and two penguins. I mean, why not?
It was quite a challenge to find them all, but with a fairly busy schedule, we left our friend the orange man behind and entered the park. It was a beautiful, if cold, morning and the stroll through this green oasis, with its lake, provided a real breath of fresh air and an opportunity to reconnect with nature. As we walked through the park, the number of people out walking, jogging, cycling and training increased, as did the parents taking their children out for a stroll. There were also the birds and wildfowl to observe and the daffodils were just starting to open up, adding a little colour to their surroundings. The park was coming to life!
The route along the lakeside had taken us the best part of 40 minutes to walk and at the end of the path we were greeted with the sight of our reward; the ornate, gilded, gates of the Porte des Enfants du Rhône – the southern entrance.
Just before the gates was a wonderful bronze statue depicting a mythical love scene between a centaur-ess and a faun, which, with the early morning sun picking out the detail was certainly a sight to behold.
It was time to move on, so hopping on a bus (C4) we made our way down into the city, alighted at Saxe – Préfecture, switched to the tram (T1) and within half an hour we were entering the shopping mall at the Confluence. We had decided to lunch in Vapiano’s but with about 40 minutes to go before midday, we took the opportunity to explore this bright and airy mall, with its mix of top-end shops, restaurants and terraces overlooking the Place Nautique, a water-basin (perhaps an old dock?) with sun-decking and steps along its length and attractive, trendy flats on the other side. The concept of a regenerated, sustainable neighbourhood, catering for the demands of the 21st century citizen, certainly seemed to be delivering and providing a multi-faceted space for business, people and leisure.
The rest of the day was set aside for revisiting Fourviére, Vieux Lyon and Croix Rousse, so, after lunch it was back on the tram as far as Guillotière and then across the bridge in the direction of Place Bellecour. As we crossed the river we could see, to our left, a colourful statue in the form of a bunch of flowers. Closer inspection revealed an 85 flower bouquet in a myriad of colour, representing the everlasting nature. Placed close to the river at the far end of Place Antonin Poncet, has been described as ‘a rainbow dome of whimsical flora’ and it certainly brightens up this corner of Lyon. After a few photos, we proceeded through Place Bellecour, to the funicular, which would once again raise us up to the heights of Fourviére, for a second look at the church and to pick up the odd present.
It being a Saturday afternoon (and the beginning of a holiday) there were lengthy queues so we opted for the quieter alternative (to St. Just) and rode the train as far as Minimes – Théâtres Romans, just below the Roman amphitheatre. The walk up the hill provided us with another glimpse of the site but did require a few stops along the way ‘to admire the view’ as the going, at least in parts, was rather steep. Anyway, we made it, revisited the church and its crypt and purchased a little souvenir from the shop nearby.
Once back down in Vieux Lyon, we decided to search out a few of the traboules, missed on our previous expedition, and search out a source of refreshment along the rue Saint-Jean.
Not finding a suitable ‘watering-hole’ along this well-trodden tourist trail we opted to move across to the rue du Bœuf where we had more luck. The Ambassade Bonnat & Crozet advertised itself as a Café, Salon de Thé, and Bar à Sirop, and once inside, you realized you had entered a serious house of delights. On display was a display of chocolate and liqueurs that were guaranteed to encourage curiosity and tempt those taste buds, whilst at the rear a real chemistry lab, where temperature-control and stop-watch combined to make the perfect cuppa. Not the cheapest, but certainly a novel experience!
A final look around the Old Town and then it was time to search out a little more street art. Our journey took us once again to the Hôtel de Ville, where we took the Metro up to the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood, where we had been told we would find one of the impressively large murals depicting the history of the Canuts or silk weavers (corner of the boulevard des Canuts and the rue Denfert Rochereau). We alighted at Hénon and soon found what we were looking for. A fascinating piece of artwork and a developing one, as it is said these murals are updated every ten years.
Apart from the mural we could not find anything else in the area so decided to return to Croix-Rousse on the Metro for an early-evening drink and a bite to eat. There was a real buzz around the area, it being early Saturday evening, and at last we found a seat in what appeared to be a popular bar just off the boulevard de la Croix-Rousse and ordered a beer and something to eat.
Waking up the next morning, it was sad to know our time in Lyon had come to an end. After checking out of our hotel, we made for the station at Part-Dieu, and had a spot of petit déjeuner in one of the cafes outside the station complex.
Our train left at 11am and within no time at all the three hour TGV journey was up and we were soon pulling into Lille. We had a wait of about an hour and a half before the Eurostar arrived to take us on the final leg of our journey back to London.
Our short trip to Lyon had been great and I would really recommend the city to people looking for an alternative French city break!