Eurotrip 2016 – Part 2 – Lyon, FrancePosted by brose
After arriving at the Colmar station, we took the train to Mulhouse station, the next stop, only a 20 minute ride. We found the track for the TGV for which we had seats reserved, and waited for it to arrive. Boarded with our bags in the dedicated area, we took our seats and began the almost-3-hour ride to Lyon. Since we were caught up on sleep, we were able to stay awake and get some reading done. After arriving at the Lyon station, we made our way to the street and navigated the 25 minute walk to Hotel Le Roosevelt, home for the next 4 nights.
We dropped our bags and looked for food nearby, finding the aptly named Le Theodore restaurant in close proximity. After a dinner of filet mignon (cooked a-point [pronounced “ah-pwah”], meaning literally “on point”) and tuna steak (cooked likewise), we ordered a rum-based dessert that promised it came with a carafe of rum on the side. Sadly, it was a small supply…
Once again full and happy, we journeyed the arduous one-block trek back to the hotel and went to bed.
Ah, the first full day in Lyon. What to do, what to do. We thought we had 11am reservations at Cafe de Federations, but after crossing the mighty Rhone…
…we quickly realized our reservations were for noon, and for tomorrow. Oops. Oh well, we were nearby Lyon Vieux (Old Lyon) so we decided to do some walking around and sightseeing. Little did we know how far that would take us today.
We started by crossing over the equally-impressive Saone:
and we quickly ran into Lyon’s courthouse:
as well as a beautiful church, Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste:
The architecture around this square is extremely impressive.
We began heading up the hill towards fourviere and the views grew more and more impressive.
and at last, atop the hill, we stood face-to-face with one of the most impressive cathedrals we’ve ever seen in person, la basilique notre dame de fourviere.
The inside can take your breath away.
Each wall was adorned with 3 pieces of mosaic art. In this picture, you cannot even tell individual tiles from each other. The intricacy and detail astounds.
Then, walking out of the cathedral and to the side, one can see almost the whole of Lyon, as shot in this panorama. You might click it to view the full-size version, this thumbnail cannot capture the details we witnessed in person.
High atop the hill also sits a mini-Eiffel-tower, which seems to serve as an extremely multi-functional communications hub given it’s high position.
Continuing on, we passed what might be the largest cemetery I have personally ever witnessed.
We did go into the cemetery and walk around. The headstones and mausoleums left great impressions, with some families beginning plots in the 1700’s. After walking inside for about an hour, we had still not hit any of the sides, and we returned from whence we came. Descending back down the hill, we were witness to many views we found beautiful, yet likely just part of everyday-life for a citizen of Lyon.
From far north atop Croix-Rousse, we descended once again and headed back to the hotel. But crossing the river Rhone again, this time north of where we started, we were next to the Parc de la Tete d’Or, which was definitely on the todo list. It didn’t take long before we were glad we took the time.
Soon the sun started to set on us, but it only made the park even more majestic.
It was getting dark, so from the park, we walked the 15 minutes back to our hotel to wind down. All in all, about 11 miles of walking all over Lyon, in no particular efficient pattern.
Exhausted and quite frankly a little sore, we looked for a dinner spot near our hotel, but this being Sunday in France, very few were to be found. We stopped at the Japanese restaurant Nikko right near the hotel, then headed back and very quickly passed out cold.
Walking… if there is to be a theme for our time in Lyon, it is walking. Iliotibial bands tight and feet blistered, we awoke and headed over for our actual reservation time at Cafe de Federations. After a lovely meal of way too many appetizers, pork sausage in a red-wine sauce, and chicken in a vinegar sauce (almost like a vindaloo but not nearly as spicy), we headed out. Crossing the Saone once again, we wandered around Lyon Vieux again, eventually stopping at a wine bar where we enjoyed some delicious Hermitage vintages. Heading back, yet another beautiful church was along the way.
We continued up the hill towards Croix Rousse once again, and stopped to look back and take in the sight. What a city…
Along the way we picked up a Beaujoulais wine and a pinot noir bubbly, as well as a peppercorn sausage, so we stopped briefly at the hotel to drop off our plunder. Bubbly in the minifridge, we set out again, there was no time to lose, sunset was arriving again soon. We headed back to the Parc de la Tete d’Or, on our first visit yesterday we only glossed the surface by walking the perimeter of their lake. This park is so large that it is also home to the largest free zoo in all of Europe. We passed by their botanical gardens…
…and many other beautiful sculptures along the way.
Finally, we made it to the zoo. However, it was already too late, the park’s zoo closes rather early, 5pm most of the year and 6pm in April and October. Many animals were housed outside the zoo gates, however, so we still got to see quite a bit.
We walked back to the hotel and searched for a place for dinner. Finding La Table 101, we set course and got there just as they opened at 7:30pm – very fortunate as there were only a couple of unreserved tables available. There we had a delicious meal – several courses, and all so gorgeously plated one felt bad eating such works of art.
^ That’s lobster, crab, and caviar with a carrot puree.
For main courses, we both went with the duck, but served different ways. Of course it was cooked a point. It all went down so easy, and then onto dessert. I had a caramel chocolate bar with coffee ice cream, while Cait just couldn’t refuse the souffle.
^ I can’t even begin to describe that souffle. A large dish, but so light and airy, after finishing one isn’t sure they had dessert at all, except perhaps for the warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Fat and happy, we walked back to the hotel for bed, and to prepare for our last full day in Lyon. While laying in bed, some severe thunderstorms passed by, providing a perfect ending to the day as rain pattered against our window.
Waking up on the later side, the skies were dark and the rain was still coming down hard. We checked the forecast, it wasn’t going to stop. On with the rain jackets! But first, a bit of housekeeping – we found during our travels a laundromat on the same block as the hotel, so we stopped by, paid a few Euro for the use of a large machine, threw all our clothes in on a heavy-duty cold cycle, and wandered around for a while. Returning to throw it in the dryer and eventually to fold the finished clothes, we were ready to wander. Today’s mission – walk to the point where the Saone river merges into the Rhone. It was a hike, about 1h15 of walking along the river bank, but as always, Lyon is there to provide exceptional views.
Finally, we made it. The picture doesn’t really do the experience justice. The water wasn’t particularly violent when it merged, but there was something about the volume of liquid merging that a still photo just can’t capture.
We crossed back over the Rhone and headed back towards the hotel, searching for somewhere to eat dinner along the way. We found a creperie en route with an astonishing 4.9 star rating. We stopped in, after another hour of walking. For dinner, we got a large fondue pot with salad, charcuterie, and a basket of fresh sliced bread. Mark my words closely, this is all I ever want to eat for the rest of my life. I’ve never had such a delicious fondue before. For dessert, I had a couple scoops of house-made mint chocolate chip ice cream with an espresso, and Cait got a dessert crepe – the creole – served with banana, hot chocolate sauce, Chantilly cream, and rum which was promptly set ablaze on the plate. Settling up on the cheque, we walked the 10 minutes back to the hotel and began to pack up our things – tomorrow we have one more stop in Lyon, but after that, we check out of the hotel and head over to Aix-en-Provence.
You’d think there wouldn’t be too much left, but no, we barely scratched the surface of Lyon. Waking up early, we finished packing our final things, checked out, and left our bags with the hotel. We walked down to Les Halles de Lyon, a large building with many individual vendors inside, resembling what Americans might call a shopping mall.
We walked around inside for a half hour or so, somehow still astounded at how much the French love their wine and cheese shops. Oh and chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate. Charcuterie and seafood too. We stopped at one of their bars and tried some more Beaujoulais wine, delicious as always. However, noon approached and we had train reservations, so we headed back, picked up our bags, and walked them over to the station. Riding the train out of town, we looked back on the last several days, having thoroughly enjoyed Lyon while covering tons of ground.
There was so much more we could have seen and done, but we felt accomplished, if not a little worn out, and looked forward to our next stop!