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The Leaving Journal

Lyon, France

FRANCE | Tuesday, 22 September 2015 | Views [464]

 Lyon was not a city on my (long) list of travel destinations. Were it not for the easy, cheap train from Rolle coupled with the easy, cheap flight from Madrid for Chris, I doubt I ever would have found myself here. In looking for a place to meet after nearly two months apart, we weren't very concerned with being in a cool city. I assumed much of our reunion would be spent within the walls of our accommodation, a fourth-flour apartment tucked away on a quiet street just south of La Place Bellecour. While I wasn't wrong, the little time we did spend wandering Lyon proved to be unexpectedly fruitful.

Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon has a pretty collection of bridges and waterfront property. Being centrally located on the peninsula between the two rivers rather than on one side allowed us to explore the Berges du Rhône to the east and the Basilica Fourvière and Vieux Lyon to the west. 

Except for a phenomenal Friday night meal at Le Comptoir d'Ainay off Place Bellecour (lamb and risotto, seared tuna and fresh green beans, Thai corn fritters...), we bought almost all of our food at a beautiful, expansive Saturday market on Quai Saint Antoine, a street lining the eastern edge of the Saône. There is something borderline gluttonous about the quantity, color and quality of food in French markets. We fried a single, fresh-from-the-ground girolle in butter and it rivaled the delight of Swiss chocolate.

A long, steep trek took us up winding alleys to the iconic Basilica Fourvière. More impressive than the gilded mosaic covering the inside of the church was the sprawling view of the city from the church's hill top perch. The city's eastward expansion, from the basilica down into old town, across the rivers and into the newer business district, was visible as the romantic, orange rooftops thinned out into a sea of steel and concrete in the distance. 

Despite the rainy weather and nesting behavior that kept us indoors for most of the weekend, we managed a wander through the city's oldest neighborhood, Vieux Lyon. The area has an edge of European charm but, like many old corners, has been overrun by tourist traps and expensive shopping. 

Frankly, Lyon is a city I could happily take or leave. The joy and beauty I now associate with it are another example of a recurring theme in my travels: the people make the place. 


The Saône


Picnic at the Basilica Fourvière


Vieux Lyon - old town alleyways beneath the Basilica


Basilica Fourvière


Tags: cities, europe, france, markets, surprises

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