In this transition of summer to autumn, I finally had the chance to visit Lyon and take the best of a wonderful sunny weekend. I wrote finally because, in fact, I always wanted to visit this french city: not only I have some local friends that I met during my volunteer experience in Skopje but I also had a great chance that, unfortunately, didn´t concretize, when I lived in Nice.
In two articles, the first one focused in Old Lyon / Vieux Lyon and Fourvière, the second dedicated to the neighborhoods of the Confluence and the Croix Rousse, I´ll let you know about my experience in the city better-known for Lumière brothers (cinema inventors) and Antoine de Saint-Exupérie (‘The Little Prince’ author), just to name a few.
Lyon is, after Paris, the second richest city in France, and the third in terms of population. In fact, the city started to surprise me by its size and its numerous attractions. To be honest, I spent 3 days in Lyon but I could perfectly have stayed the double of the time in the capital of the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region.
Lyon has a well-preserved and a lively Old Town. Vieux Lyon – as called by the locals -, is the perfect place to start, as its cobblestone streets offers a variety of attractions that everyone must discover, preferably, by walk. As I knew I didn´t have much time, I looked for the local free walking tours and picked one that includes one of the highlights of Vieux Lyon: the ‘Traboules’.
The ‘Traboules’ are a serie of hidden passages between buildings originally used for the local merchants carry products and that, during the second world war, served the resistance for secret meetings and fight the occupancy. Nowadays, the ‘Traboules’ are more than History: its tight passages lead to secret gardens, amazing staircases and colorful courtyards.
Anyway, as I walked around the ‘Traboules’ I had the chance to roam the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon, exploring the local architecture – eternalized with pastel colour buildings -, and shops, especially the ‘Bouchon’. ‘Bouchon’ are the local restaurants where it is possible to find dishes prepared in the most traditional way – if you want an advice, try it for lunch as it is the kind of heavy food.
Another highlight of Vieux Lyon is the Fourvière basilica. Located in the homonym hill, this catholic monument is impossible to ignore, as it is visible from any point of Lyon. From Vieux Lyon you can get the funicular, however I opted to walk for almost one hour to get there, which made me not only discover the ancient roman theater but also how a pilgrim would feel after such climb.
However, it definitely worth: not only the basilica is magnificent as the view from the Fourvière is, undoubtedly, the best to overlook Lyon and its surroundings. Another advice, go there by the end of the day to watch the sunset in Croix Rousse neighborhood. I made it and it was when I realize I needed more days to simply dedicate to Lyon. The beautiful city of Lyon!
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