August 15, 2013

A Day Trip to Lyon

On our second day in France, we drove to Lyon. My friend whom we were visiting had been previously to this city and wanted us to see it. The day was cold and overcast, but we bundled up to ensure we'd enjoy the visit.

Lyon is larger than Grenoble and is located where the Rhône and Saône rivers intersect. The buildings sprawl out beyond the banks of both rivers, with the oldest part of town at the base of a hill on the north bank of the Saône River. At the top of the hill overlooking the old city is a large cathedral.

Café de La Ficelle
We began our visit at a cafe near the tram that transports visitors and residents to the cathedral and surrounding neighborhoods. Since it was chilly outside we needed a warm snack before exploring the city. We ordered a tarte tatin and crepe to share with coffees and hot chocolate. Tarte tatin is a dessert from this region of France made by caramelizing apples and then baking them in the oven with pastry on top. After baking, the pastry is served upside down with the apples on top. The crepe was okay, but the tarte tarin was delicious!

 Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste
After our snack, we took the funicular up the hillside to the cathedral. The wind was colder at the top, but the view of the city stretching out before us was worth it! After checking out the city from above, we walked around the church square, took the obligatory photos, and visited the cathedral and the chapel. Both spaces were peaceful and filled with the comforting smell of candle wax burning.

A narrow cobblestone street in the old part of Lyon.

Soon we headed back down the funicular and were wandering around the narrow streets of the old town. It was like a labyrinth of small squares, narrow streets, covered passages, and courtyards. The streets were filled with people browsing tourist shops and enjoying this beautiful city. Even on a cold, gloomy winter day like this one, the bright hues of the houses almost glowed.

Le Bouchon des Carnivores
After the sun set, we found a cozy bouchon to go to for dinner. A bouchon is a restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnaise food, which is hearty and perfect for a chilly winter day. When we arrived, the restaurant was quiet, as we were well ahead of the normal dinner crowd in France. We ordered local wine and relaxed, enjoying the warm reprieve from the damp cold weather outside. I ordered fish and endives, while my dining companions ordered meat dishes. The thing I liked most about food Lyonnaise food is that is was comforting and delicious - perfect for cold weather!

After dinner, we walked out into the dark streets. The city was now shrouded in a thick fog, giving it a mysterious air. The city lights glowed in the mist as we made our way back to our car, ending our visit to Lyon.

Nighttime in Lyon...