Panoramic view of Lyon, 3 Days In Lyon

Panoramic view of Lyon; (c) ONLYLyon

3 Days In Lyon

by Thomas Dorsey, Soul Of America

Lyon takes its tourist-friendly urban vibe from a combination of ancient Roman ruins, Renaissance architecture, internationally acclaimed cuisine, a thriving economy, and a stunning confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers.

This remarkable city was the capital of the Gauls during the Roman Empire. Today the city is revered for its local cuisine. We can thank Chef Paul Bocuse (1927-2018) for focusing the world’s gastronomic attention here. When you sample Lyonnaise Cuisine your taste buds will issue a panic attack on your brain to describe all the flavors. Inventive local chefs make stunning combinations of simple ingredients for amazing breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes at reasonable prices.

Foodies should sojourn to Lyon. And if time permits visit the city market called Les Halles Paul Bocuse. It is frequented by master chefs each Sunday morning and apprentice chefs on other days.

A sample of Lyonnaise Cuisine by ChezLucien

A sample of Lyonnaise Cuisine by Chez Lucien; (c) Minimal Studio/ONLYLyon

On my 3-day side trip from Paris, I marveled at Lyons’s architectural heritage. Old Lyon, locally called Vieux Lyon, has several churches and historic sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Walk inside a few of them to see astonishing architecture and fine craftsmanship.

Lyon was a historically important area for weaving silk garments during the Renaissance. History buffs will be mesmerized walking inside a building as old as the 1300s, yet today serving fine cuisine and one-of-a-kind gifts.

The Garment industry flourished by locating aside the Rhône and Saône Rivers which access many inland ports of Europe. Over time, Lyon became an economic hub during the Renaissance (15th & 16th centuries).

Lyon played a defining role in the history of cinema. In 1870, the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere moved here to attend technical school while working in their father’s photographic firm. Auguste was a manager and Louis was a physicist. The Lumière invented their Cinematograph here. Unlike Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope projected to one person at a time, their Cinematograph projected to large auditoriums, enabling commercial expansion. Lumiere Museum tells their story.

Old Lyon has a Movie Miniatures and Cinema museum honoring their relentless curiosity and patent of the cinématographe projector for large audiences in 1895. A walk inside its building from the 1300s is a view back in time, albeit updated with electricity.

Inside, a charming collection of the miniatures used in movies that you may recall, plus surprising Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson movie artifacts. If you are scared easily, walk swiftly past the giant Alien movie creature and either hold your man tight or bypass the dark uneven hallway to a Middle Ages torture chamber. Otherwise, it’s a must visit for horror movie fans.

The city is also known for its light festival, the Fête des Lumières, which begins every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of “Capital of Lights”. It’s a great time to visit before Christmas.

Puppet Square in Musee de Guignol, Vieux Lyon

Puppet Square in Musee de Guignol, Vieux Lyon; (c) Soul Of America

Lyon’s universities attract the second-largest student body in France, nearly 200,000. Such a large academic base is honey that attracts chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and software industries. Lyon boosts its importance by hosting the international headquarters of Interpol, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and Euronews. That ecosystem produces good incomes to populate the many food markets, restaurants, bistros, cafes, bars, and retail shops dotting the landscape.

If you ride a Vaporetto water bus on the Saône River, glaze upon hillside villas and the distinguished Renaissance architecture of churches lining the west bank.

If you cruise on the Rhône River, see magnificent public buildings, restaurants, and people-friendly waterfront parks on the right bank. And if your timing is right, you’ll also see a TGV train pass over a Rhône River viaduct in scenic contrast to ships passing underneath.

Lyon also has eye-catching modern complexes in the southern part of its 2nd Arrondissement leading south on Charlemagne Ave to a confluence of the two rivers. It’s called Les Confluences Quartier. A surplus of energetic young people thrive there.

Musee de Confluences

Jardin et Musee de Confluences; (c) ONLYLyon/F Lacrabere

The hard-to-describe Musee des Confluences fits within multi-angular modern architecture that enhances its anthropology and science museum exhibitions distinguishing the region, France, and other parts of the world.

To make your day relaxing, consider a walk in the sharply pointed Jardin de Confluences where birds and butterflies abound. Picnic there and see cruise ships going south on the Rhône River or turning sharply north up the Saône River. Few European cities enjoy such a confluence of two great rivers filled with pleasure craft.

Most fans who follow my work on Interstate High-Speed Rail for America know that I advocate Sustainable Transportation that does not require tourists to drive everywhere. You can reach the city via frequent high-speed rail services from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. This metro area about the size of Pittsburgh features 4 Metro Rail lines, 7 Tram lines, 2 Hillside Funiculars, Open-top Tourbuses, Dedicated Bikeways, and Water Taxis crisscrossing the urban area. The only time we needed a taxi was to handle our large to/from the hotel and one late night of fine dining. There are no hassles to reach any major attraction in Lyon.

It’s impossible to experience all the inviting character of Lyon’s many districts in 3 days. Perhaps the greatest compliment to the city is that we plan to return. In France, many people will remind you that “La vie est belle” for Life is good.  From my expression below, you can tell that I too felt La vie est belle.

Thomas Dorsey loving Vieux Lyon

Thomas Dorsey loving Vieux Lyon; (c) Soul Of America

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