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Monday, June 27, 2011

The 5 Greatest Things "à faire" in Lyon, France


Flickr user: CdePaz
                                                         
From working our way down the list to the top "must-do" activities in Lyon, France, I will take you on a little journey explaining the multi-faceted city of Lyon: from shopping at a fresh market in Croix-Rousse to checking out the fun and relaxing bank of the Rhone River. Studying for a year on an exchange in Lyon has allowed me to meet tons of people from all over the world, create a great network of close friendships, and visit places I had only dreamed of visiting. Read on for more!

Flickr photo by Trishhhh

5) Artisan Market à la saône and Vieux Lyon
(Old Lyon)- On a breezy fall morning, with my host parents and my little four year old host sister, I first visited the artisan market that sits west of the Saône River. This art market hosts multiple local artists including jewelers, painters, sculptuers, ceramic artist, and many other creative minds for the citizens of Lyon. Across the river you can take a stroll along the river while taking a gander at the written oeuvres (works) of Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Voltaire. On the western edge of the Sceraône, Vieux (Old) Lyon rests peacefully below the hill of Fourvière. Vieux Lyon is considered the oldest neighborhood of Lyon and most of the streets are paved with cobblestones and lined with authentic "bouchon lyonnais" restaurants. I suggest to any new traveler exploring Lyon to buy a crêpe at one of the many crêpe stands along the street after passing through Place Saint-Jean. Then continue your day by relaxing and visiting this traditional french city. This is a great place for a light sunday promenade!


Flickr photo by Stig Nygaard
4) Croix-Rousse neighborhood- Croix-Rousse is the highly known, artsy-hippy-chic neighborhood of Lyon. There are two main hills in the center of the city: one is considered the praying hill (Fourvière) and the other is long time considered the working hill (Croix-Rousse). Croix-Rousse became named the working hill after a long history of silk trading in the passageways and tunnels called "les traboules." Silk trading was the major form of commerce in the past for Lyon, so visiting this area rich in history and culture is always interesting and gives you a strong sense of humility. One can also marvel at the wonderful view of Lyon from the park by "Le Gros Caillou" which is a giant rock symbolic of the area and the "hill who works." You can find plenty of lively bars with their own unique flairs and there is a market always abounding with fresh fruits and vegetables. Perfect for weekly shopping if you are a new Lyon habitant or even if you are traveling and  in search of some fresh ingredients!

Flickr photo by romainguy
3) Fourvière church, Roman ruins, and lookout- Taking the funiculaire (an uphill metro type thing) from Vieux Lyon, you feel yourself approaching Lyon's own pride and joy- fourvière church. When you first arrive in Lyon, there's no doubt that you can't miss the old cathedral who towers over the city's center and presqu'île. As a foreigner and even more, an american (where our oldest monument dates back a little over 200 years), I remember being fascinated by the white façade of this catholic fortress set across the blue sky. From the back of the church, once climbing the praying hill, you will receive a full panoramic view of the city. A little ways down the street and the hill towards Saint Just you may stumble upon Lyon's roman amphitheatres. These amphitheatres supply you with another vast view of Lyon. Visiting these two historic destinations is definitely a "must-do" when visiting Lyon.


Photo by Allegra
2) La quai du Rhone- La quai du Rhone was probably one of my favorite locations to spend some off-time in Lyon. Whether it was from just grabbing a book and laying on one of the wooden sun benches or to passing time with friends on a warm Friday evening, the banks of the Rhone river was always a wonderful decision. I am someone who enjoys simple things and a relaxed environment. If you are anything like me, you will love listening to different groups of university students discussing topics in french and the random young people who enjoy jamming on their guitars by the water, and if the weather is nice, you can grab a beer with some friends on one of the eclectic boat bars. 


Photo by Allegra
1) Parc de la tête d'or- Resting to the north of the city of Lyon and just on the outskirts of Villeurbanne, you will find the biggest park in the city. This park of the "golden head" is guarded by beautiful gold and iron gates. The park welcomes you in with a petite lake, a plant atrium, tons of playgrounds for kids, and even a zoo which you will discover towards the back, behind the atrium. I have tons of great memories from this park: picnics with friends, row-boating on the lake, visiting the zoo when I was new to the city, and just hanging out or reading for classes.  I know that a park doesn't seem that special, considering you can find parks in practically every city, but I have had so many fun times on this open space of land. It is also good for someone who loves nature and is a outdoor person at heart, like me! I know sometimes I would get sick of the urban jungle and being boxed in by buildings all of the time in Lyon, so this was always a great way for me to escape the confines of a big city like Lyon!

I hope this list of top 5 gave some you a few ideas of what  to do if you're ever in Lyon! And those of you reading who have already been to Lyon or live in Lyon, do you agree with my order of activities or is there any important you think I left out?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

P.S. Don't forget to check out our great French Language courses in Lyon!