Lyon is one of the lesser-known cities in France, but has a reputation for being the country’s gastronomic capital. Lyon is also a university city, so the demographic here is a mixture of both the younger and older crowd. I spent 2 full days in Lyon, and used an extra day to take a day-trip to Annecy (covered in another post!). So here’s what went down!
My train left early from Nice to Lyon and took about 4 hours through the French countryside and arrived at Lyon’s Part-Dieu station. I was up before the sunrise, and was able to capture this beautiful moment of a mother with her son on the train.
Similarly to Paris, Lyon is divided into different Arrondissements. I chose to stay in the first district, based on a tip I got online. The first district is really where the hub is at, and is easily accessible to all parts of the city. My Airbnb was just a little ways away from the city hall: Hotel de Ville. Again, I rented bikes and was glad to find that you can rent bikes directly from an app on your phone OR at a docking station. This made it super easy for me to find out whether a station had bikes available in just a few seconds. So once I dropped off my bags, I went straight for the city’s old town. Cobblestone streets and souvenir shops were everywhere.
Somehow, though, I could not for the life of me find Lyon’s Traboules, these secret passageways that silk manufacturers and other merchants used to use to transport their products and other goods quicker through the streets. You can book tours online that would take you to see these Traboules, but I thought I could find them myself. I even wandered into a door and down a hallway only to find that it was an apartment complex. I did come across La Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste though.
After exploring Old Town for a bit, I also walked along Rue de la République, a street lined with tons of shops. Then I rode my bike to Park D’Or, which is this huge park in the upper region of the city with a beautiful lake, play area for kids, and a zoo in which some animals got to roam around without bars or fences. Many people go running around the perimeter of this park, which I couldn’t think of anything I’d enjoy less! I prefer biking.
I didn’t do too much on my first day in Lyon, seeing as I got into town in mid-afternoon. I did return back to my Airbnb at a decent time and was invited by my host to watch a 3D movie with him. I would definitely recommend staying with Jean-Pierre if you ever visit Lyon. His English is superb, though I insisted he speak to me in French, and he really enjoys being an Airbnb host and meeting all kinds of people. He might be one of the best hosts I’ve ever met, plus his flat is stylish. I ended up watching the latest Jurassic World on his big projector with him before heading to bed. I was to meet up with Erik the next morning as he was FINALLY joining me on my trip!
Erik had taken an overnight bus from Mannheim, Germany to Lyon. When he arrived early at Lyon’s bus station, I was still in bed. Our meeting point was Place de la Bellecour, which is just a huge plaza that the city sometimes held events. But since there’s usually nothing there, it’s a great meeting spot. I hopped on a bike and sped to meet him since I was already late, and it was so good to see Erik again! We walked back to our Airbnb to drop off his stuff, then we headed out to get some breakfast and coffee. One place that I passed by earlier that I knew Erik would love was this bicycle coffee shop.
After that, we decided to go to this outdoor market called Marché Alimentaire de la Croix-Rousse. A friend of mine recommended that I buy their grapes so I went around the whole market sampling grapes and finally getting 3 different types. And yes, they were delicious. We also bought some bread and cheese, and it was Erik’s turn to rent a bike from a docking station nearby so that we could bike back to Parc D’Or to have a picnic.
Just before sunset, we headed to La Basilisque Notre Dame de Fourvière, a church that overlooks the city. There are several options to get to the top, the most popular being a tram that connects to the city’s metro system. You can also drive up there if you own or rent a car. Or you can do what Erik and I did, which was walk. Hike was more likely it since it was basically straight uphill, then a ton of stairs, and more stairs.
We did get to pass by some gardens!
The view of the city from the top was pretty typical, in my opinion. After seeing the sunset from the top of the castle in Nice, I felt that nothing could beat that view. Still, the church was very pretty.
Once we made our way down from the Basilica and back to Old Town, we had a pre-dinner snack of Belgian fries from Friterie Bitje & Zoet, which were so delicious. I had taken a fleeting picture for my Insta stories and forgot to save it! Dinner was at The Crock’N’Roll, which served veggie-friendly croque monsieurs. Erik hasn’t had one before and he enjoyed the fancy grilled cheese aspect! (Also forgot to save the Insta story).
While we made our way back towards our Airbnb, we passed by the Hotel de Ville at night. The building is situated in a large plaza square with plenty of cafes and people enjoying drinks.
We had the full intention to go back to our Airbnb (which was only 5-10 minutes away) to change and come back out to enjoy Lyon’s nightlife, but then Erik fell asleep. Granted, he had only slept 3 hours on that overnight bus since at 3am, Frenchman forgot to get off at a stop and began yelling at the Spanish-speaking bus driver so there was some language clashing and the whole bus was woken up and the Frenchman was left on the middle of the road. So Erik was tired! I took this opportunity to buy tickets to Annecy, the day trip we were going on the next morning!
*A handful of these shots were taken by Erik Price (erikprice.net)