June 21, 2024

Lyon, France (06-16 May 2018)

On Sunday, May 6, Drew, Drake, Pat and I boarded the train in Nice for our ride to Lyon. The train was comfortable and fast, hitting 181 mph at some point. We were in the first-class section in the upstairs observation deck, with a table between us. There was a single car between us and the dinning car where we went to pickup snacks to last us until we got to Lyon. Being in the upper deck was great, allowing us to really see the passing countryside.

Once at the Lyon Part-Dieu train station, we picked up sandwiches to take to our AirBnB. Although we later realized how easy it would have been to take the Metro, we got an Uber and headed to the AirBnB. (Later, looking at the map and the Uber bill, I realized I had been overcharged because the driver had shut off the Uber app and drove a longer distance than was necessary. I later got a refund from Uber, when I complained and they reviewed the route.)

Lyon Area


The next day, we walked into the town we were staying in, Vénissieux. The town was comfortable, small middle class houses and a Middle Eastern feel. There is good public transportation serving this community, including buses and the Metro trains, making it an ideal place for us to stay.

After exploring Vénissieux, we walked to the nearby Metro train station, Gare de Vénissieux, where we took a train to Vieux Lyon, the historic section of Lyon. This was to be the first of several visits to this area. One of our goals was the Musée Miniature et Cinéma (Museum of Miniatures and Cinema) which was a great museum! On our way there, we stopped at the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, where we saw another thing mentioned in Atlas Obscura (a fun site to check when traveling around the world) – the item is the Astronomical Clock of Lyon. After exploring some of the narrow streets in the old town, it was up the hill to the La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Here we also saw another site listed in Atlas Obscura, the Metallic Tower of Fourvière. Oh, we also saw, but didn’t stop, the Roman Theaters at Fourvière (Drew and Drake got to visit it the following week with their parents). Making our way back down to the Old Town, we had dinner and took the Metro back to our AirBnB.

Tuesday, we had fun at Parc de Parilly, where we found a geocache, the boys ran through the woods, played hide-and-seek and we had lunch outside a kiddie park within the larger park.

The next day we went to Parc de la Tête d’Or, the largest urban park in France, containing a zoological park, a botanical garden, a boating lake and many miles of paved paths and acres (or hectares) of grass to enjoy.

The next couple of days we went back to the Vieux Lyon, specifically to find traboules, passages built as early as the 4th century to help silk workers transport their fabric around the Old Town without getting them wet. There are many of them still existing in Lyon, but only a few are open to the public. This site has a map of many of the traboules in the Vieux Lyon. This was certainly fun and we think the boys enjoyed helping us find them.

The most famous of the traboules includes the six-floor stairway shown below. The sign posted below says:

“The architectural emblem of Lyon’s “Canut” past, the Cour des Voraces lies at the heart of a traboule with 3 separate entries…The Canuts were Lyon’s silkworkers and pioneers of worker solidarity: their “Devior Mutuel” was France’s first mutual insurance society.

The most radical of the silkworker groups, the Societe des Voraces, advocated a new social order under the motto “Live working or die fighting”. After the riots of 1831 and 1834, they took an active part in the revolution of 1848, remaining virtual masters of the city from February to June, when they were disarmed by force.

The renovation work carried out in 1995 brought restoration of the remarkable open staircases and gave the gones – the local kids – a chance to rediscover the joys of racing each other up and down the stairs.”

Other things we saw on our many walks in Lyon’s Old Town, included Abracadabra – Académie des Arts Magiques where we met Gregory Wilson, an American magician, lecturing around Europe, who heard us speaking English and came out of the back room to talk to us. Another place we visited was In Cuisine, a culinary bookstore that also serves wine and some food.

On Tuesday, May 15, Jenny and Tom replaced Pat and me at the AirBnB. Jenny took us to the airport, where we stayed overnight and flew back to Charlotte on Wednesday. Another fantastic vacation had come to an end.

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