I love Lyon. I lived there for ten months, so I might be a teensy bit biased, but it’s an absolute cracker of a city. It’s overlooked by so many city breakers – which is perhaps no bad thing, for it means it doesn’t get completely swamped with tourists like my current hometown – yet has lots to offer the discerning visitor, from world-class museums and cultural venues to picturesque streets and top-notch grub. Although you could easily spend longer than a weekend in Lyon, à la Travel Man, I’ve compiled an itinerary for time-poor visitors wishing to get a flavour for the city in a short space of time. If you missed it, you can catch up on the first part by clicking here. Otherwise, grab yourself a brew and settle in for part two . . .
If you were planning a city break, Lyon probably wouldn’t be the first city to come to mind. Cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam tend to spring to mind first; second-cities rarely get a look in. Lyon, however, has cultural gems aplenty, stunning panoramic views and a foodie scene (or should that be boulangerie scene?) worth writing home about; in other words, all the essential ingredients for a memorable city break. While I was living in Lyon, I had a number of visits from family and friends, and therefore played tour guide a fair few times, pruning and refining my itinerary each time. Whether you’re plotting a city break or simply fancy an armchair getaway, here’s part one of my tried-and-tested guide to Lyon*. On y va !
When I was living in Lyon, Sundays were synonymous with trips to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, the city’s largest park and the centrepiece of the sixième. I witnessed the changing of the seasons in all its glory: the leaves turning from green to shades of russet, amber and garnet; delicate layers of frost clinging to the plants in the weak winter sun; the swathes of daffodils on the verges heralding the start of spring; and the return of picnickers and pedalos to the park in early summer.
Overlooking Geneva is the majestic Mont Salève. It’s not actually in Switzerland at all; it’s firmly in France, just across the Franco-Swiss border. Its limestone cliffs are the backdrop to an already picture-perfect Swiss city, and the views from the top are breath-taking. I’d seen them before, but was only too happy to see them again.
Shortly after my hike in the Chartreuse, Olivier suggested a ‘randonnée cerises’ in the nearby Monts du Lyonnais. It’s fairly self-explanatory what this hike entailed, but I fancied sharing a few photos from it as I had a jolly good time. (Let’s face it, a hike that combines rolling hills and end-of-season fruit is pretty much the dream for me.)
Before I left Lyon, I was intent on returning to the Parc Naturel Régional de Chartreuse. Put simply, my visit to the southern edge of the park back in February had whetted my appetite for more and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see another tiny corner of this majestic mountain range. I also had my eye on a little trip over to Chambéry, and it just so happens that this quaint little town provides easy access to the natural park. (A win-win scenario, if you ask me.) The map was purchased, the packed lunch packed (no items left in the fridge this time!) and the alarm set. On y va!
Lyon is like an onion: peel back the outer skin of iconic landmarks such as Fourvière, Place des Terreaux and Cathédrale St. John, and you’ll discover there’s far more to the city than you first thought. Take the time to explore the quirks of its diverse neighbourhoods, glimpse some of the city’s famous fresques and zigzag across the city using its network of traboules, and you’ll be richly rewarded. If it takes your fancy, you can even play at being Mary from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless classic, The Secret Garden. It’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets, and is rarely mentioned in guidebooks – at least, it wasn’t in either of mine!
As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun – and I’ve certainly had fun compiling this little series about my recent trip to Paris. While it may not be the end of the road for this series, as I’m rather fond of the title, it has now reached a red traffic light, so to speak. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting (and revisiting, as was the case for a few) some of the crowd-pleasers, but felt most at home wandering the city’s fringes, which were both peaceful and picturesque. On our last day, after an essential detour to a pâtisserie or two, we headed out to the nineteenth arrondissement and gradually worked our way back to the tenth, conveniently finishing just a short walk away from Gare du Nord, where Laurence would catch the Eurostar back to London. Until next time, Paris. / Comme dit le proverbe, le temps passe vite quand on s’amuse – et je me suis bien amusée en écrivant cette petite série sur mon voyage récent à Paris. Tandis que cela ne sera pas nécessairement la fin du voyage pour cette série, car j’aime bien le titre, elle se trouve devant un feu rouge pour l’instant, pour ainsi dire. J’ai adoré mes visites (ou bien mes deuxième visites, selon le cas) des grands monuments, mais je me suis sentie plus à l’aise en flânant dans les quartiers plus loin du centre, qui étaient à la fois tranquille et pittoresque. Le dernier jour, après avoir fait un petit détour à une ou deux pâtisseries, nous sommes allés au dix-neuvième arrondissement et petit à petit nous nous sommes dirigés vers le dixième, finissant près de la Gare du Nord, d’où Laurence prendrait le Eurostar. À la prochaine, Paris.
It’s been a while since I last sat down and actually penned a bucket list – these days, mine tends to be more of a mental note – though had I done so prior to moving to Lyon, visiting Monet’s garden would have sat pretty high up on it. Naturally, when the opportunity arose to do so, I grabbed it by the horns. (I work on the basis that I don’t know when I’ll next be in the area, so if it’s feasible – in terms of both time and money – at that point in time, then I may as well go for it.) A quick scout around the Voyages SNCF website was all it took for me to confirm it was doable as a day trip sans tour guide, and armed with the logistical details and a Google Maps printout, we were off.
Paris is one of those cities that’s an assault on the senses. There’s so much to take in, to see and (most importantly) to eat, that there’s never enough time to do it all. (Not that that stops me from trying.) On my last trip to Paris, I zigzagged across the capital, scouting out the city’s gems – both large and small. Today’s instalment focuses on a few jewels in the fourteenth arrondissement’s crown (and that of its neighbour, the thirteenth arrondissement) – though this won’t sate the appetite of any budding cataphiles, as there’s more to this neighbourhood than the famous warren filled with human remains. (Though if that’s what you want and I can’t convince you otherwise, feel free to check out this post.) If you missed the previous instalments in this series, you know the drill: click here for the first post, and here for the second. Let’s crack on! / Paris, c’est une de ces villes qui est une agression sensorielle. Il y a tant à aller voir, à saisir et (de manière plus importante) à manger, qu’on n’a jamais suffisamment du temps pour tout faire. (Mais ça ne m’empêche pas d’essayer quand-même.) Pendant mon dernier voyage à Paris, j’ai traversé la ville, à la recherche des grandes et petites pépites parisiennes. L’épisode d’aujourd’hui va mettre l’accent sur les plus beaux fleurons du quatorzième arrondissement (et ceux de son voisin, le treizième arrondissement) – mais les cataphiles ne se seront pas rassasies, car cet arrondissement n’est que le fameux labyrinthe souterrain remplie de cadavres. (Cependant, si cela est votre truc et je ne peux pas vous convaincre autrement, allez regarder cet article.) Si vous avez raté les épisodes précédents, vous savez ce qu’il faut faire : cliquez ici pour le premier épisode, et ici pour le deuxième. On y va !