A Day in Lyon
21 December, 2015
Lyon is an ideal city for quickly switching off from one’s daily routine and returning home with one’s batteries charged. Here, you will find everything you’re looking for, from fine cuisine to myriad musical, historical and artistic offerings.
But, before strolling through Lyon’s streets, let’s review some features that will help us come to grips with that amazing city.
Founded by the Romans, Lyon has long been a compulsory place of passage between northern and southern Europe. Further, its privileged position at the confluence of the Saone and Rhone rivers and its proximity to the Alps has rendered it an essential setting over the last 2,000 years. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998, the city breathes that blend of tradition, modernity and sophistication so endearing to tourists. The fact is you can stroll along the medieval backstreets in its old city or promenade along its luxurious boulevards; eat traditional food or shop in its boutiques.
We begin our itinerary on high. To that end, we take the funicular railway from the Vieux Lyon station and go up to Fourvière hill, the spot where the city was founded. Added to the splendid views are vestiges of the Roman Theatre and Odeon, two backdrops still used for summer art festivals. The impressive Gallo-Roman Museum, embedded in the hillside near the archaeological site, makes a compulsory visit for anyone wishing to discover the origins of the city, as well as to enjoy the sublime building which Bernard Zehrfuss designed in 1975. Still on the hillside and not far from the Roman precinct stands the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, its design inspired by Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, the perfect spot for a spiritual retreat and noteworthy for its dozens of mosaics.
After descending on the funicular, the route proceeds through Old Lyon, site of the Cathedral of St John, with its blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is set in one of Europe’s best preserved medieval and Renaissance quarters which is well worth ambling through to soak up the atmosphere. It is also an ideal area for stopping off to eat in the odd bouchon, a traditional Lyonnais restaurant which has helped earn the city its international fame. Consider that Lyon is regarded as the world’s gastronomy capital, the cradle of such chefs as Paul Bocuse and Eugénie Brazier. Make sure you try the local tablier de sapeur, the quenelles, Lyonnais sausage, salade lyonnaise and onion soup. But, make sure the restaurant features the Authentique Bouchon Lyonnais label to avoid anyone pulling the wool over your eyes.
To work off your meal, we recommend crossing the river Saone and venturing along the Presqu’île, a peninsula formed by the confluence of the rivers Rhone and Saone. Prominent landmarks here are the Place Bellecour and Place des Terreaux, the luxury Carré d’Or district lined with boutiques, the sumptuous City Hall and the interesting Fine Arts Museum and Opéra de Lyon. The latter, designed by the acclaimed architect, Jean Nouvelle, sees a large modern structure superimposed on an older, original building – the result is a colossal artwork that will not leave you indifferent. If you check out its website, you are sure to find a show to round off your day.
Here, then, are some pointers for spending an unforgettable day in Lyon. Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Aleix Palau for ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
21 December, 2015