Lyon: Spring has come

Lyon: Spring has come

When we got to the train station in Lyon it was crowded. The snow had delayed a lot of trains and it took us about 10 minutes to walk from one end of the train station to the other because you had to push through a very thick crowd. We were early so we went to buy out tickets for the next destination. Nice for me, Paris for my sister. Then we made our way to our host’s and Audrey met up with us at the tram station. While waiting we noticed how similar to belugas their trams looked.

Crashing a farewell party

That night we rode the Belugas and we followed our host to a party for one of her friends. That friend was going to south america for travel. It reminded me of my leaving although their party was very much quieter and foodier.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Saturday morning, Audrey offered to guide us through the city and show us around. She led us first with the underground and the funicular to the top of a hill where we saw the towering Basilica right in front of the exit from the funicular. That basilica is easily the most impressive one I’ve seen as far as details and golden decorations and mosaics and preservation goes. It is fairly recent so that probably helps, but my jaw dropped when I entered the splendid golden interior of the white church. The crypt held a big crèche which was also pretty big and intricate.

Panorama of the city

From the hill you get a very nice view of the city although the basilica is missing from it. Audrey pointed us to the main landmarks, the “pencil”, the opera and city hall, the Rhône and the Saône as well as the main street that led to her stop, Grange Blanche.

Old Theater

She wanted to show us the ancient theater next but when we got there we found it closed because of the weather. Imagine going down old ancient stone steps full of ice. I don’t really blame them. It would have been nice to see but I like my coccyx better. We still got to see the smaller one of the 2 through a gate from the bottom.

Old Lyon and winding streets

We walked down the hill through the narrow, slippery, cobbled and winding streets of the old part of town. It was a very nice walk and I’m glad we were going down and not up. We saw a car get stuck on a slippery patch of snow on its way up.

Cathédrale Saint-Jean

Once we got down the hill we stopped inside the cathedral (which was completely in restoration from outside) and it contrasted strongly with the previous one by its bareness. The stained glass was pretty though and it smelled of fresh pine trees since they were putting the crèche together.

More old Lyon

From the Cathedral to the river we saw a bunch of traditional restaurants called “Bouchon” after some old tradition that is unclear. We didn’t eat there though as the main dishes we saw on the menu were black pudding, brains and tripes. We walked down 2 streets, one of which was very touristy and the other pretty quiet, even though they were parallel and very close.

Interior courts

We also walked through a traboule, a covered passageway between buildings that served for the silk workers to avoid wetting the fabric. We visited some interior courts that were open for visit and some were very pretty such as the one with the pink tower.

Crossing the Saône

We eventually reached the river and walked alongside it for some time. Then we crossed on a pedestrian bridge to the city center. There we saw the city hall and the Opera from up close and decided to stop for a bite because we were getting pretty hungry.

Ninkasi

So in Lyon the Ninkasi is a burger bar and not the same thing as what we have in Quebec, (at least I doubt it). We ate half a kilogram of fries between the 3 of us and played puzzle with our burgers. One thing I really liked was that they served water for the table in a huge beer bottle. It sounds bad when said like that but I think it’s a good way to advertise their brewery.

Croix Rousse

Behind the city hall lies the Croix Rousse neighbourhood which is constructed on a hill. So we hiked all the way up that hill and enjoyed the nice view from the top. That neighbourhood is the artistic, revolutionary center of the city and there were a lot of graffitis around the streets as well as crafts shops and cafés. We went down the other side and eventually retraced our steps to the city hall.

City center

We then walked through the center of town and enjoyed the shopping streets and the christmas spirit. It felt a bit surreal for me because I’m really out of the christmas spirit since I won’t be home but it was nice for a day. We passed by a fanfare and stopped for a few minutes to listen to them. I still say they could have been dressed as elfs instead of clowns but oh well.

Christmas Market

The last stop for the day was the Christmas Market. It was very crowded though and it was hard to keep together, let alone stop to see the stands but we did see the Quebecer and Canadian stands that sold furs, caribou, maple syrup, and plaid shirts. No wonder they have such a stereotype of us if that’s all we show them! It was pretty funny to hear the big quebecer accent of the guy making the pancakes though. We ended up buying some french pastry and headed back home to enjoy it with some hot drinks in the comfort of a non clod environment, because our figures were getting numb.

Cinema Museum

The next morning we headed on our own under a greyish sky to the museum of Cinema. Cinema was invented by the Lumière brothers who lived in Lyon. We visited their mansion which was really pretty and got a pretty exhaustive historic of the invention of Cinema. It was interesting but might have been more so if accompanied by a guide or interactive demonstration because it was a lot of technical stuff that was hard to understand. The whole taught me that the brothers invented a lot of stuff (cinema, color photography, 3D pictures, and more).

Irish Pub meal and Bakery desert

When we got out of the museum it was raining and we hurried to the metro. We went to the Old Lyon again and quickly found a restaurant, an Irish pub for the record, to eat something. My sister got Fish and Chips. I smiled. I got Nuggets. Afterwards we headed to a bakery which we hope is the one Audrey pointed to us the day before and got some desert. Macarons, coussins, and cake. An overdose of sugar and a lot of taste!

Museum of cinema decors…

Our next stop was the museum of cinema decors and we saw the original decors of the movie “The Perfume” as well as a bunch of accessories and costumes that were used in a lot of movies. Among them: a Helion Prime guard costume from the Chronicles of Riddick, the Molloch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an alien from Men in Black II, a motorcycle rider from Star Wars I, and much more. It was amazing to see! I want to work on movies too!

…And miniatures

The second half of the museum was dedicated to miniatures and that part was very impressive. The precision and detail of the small scale models was unbelievable. It made me want to build small houses and play. It reminded me of my young years and the joy of discovering the small details on the toys.

Mc Donald’s

From there we went back to Audrey’s but we didn’t find her home so we went to have a bite at the Mc Donald’s nearby. Let me just mention that Mc Donald’s food in Europe actually tastes like chicken, potatoes or whatever they are supposed to taste like. We then called her and made it back home where we spend a quiet evening hearing the french flatmates and friends talk together. They were very funny and entertaining. And they talk quite like what you would expect french people to talk too.

Goodbyes

Monday we packed and headed for the train station under rain and very hot weather (well relatively). My sister and I said goodbye. She’s headed for Paris and I for Nice. I have 20 days left until I am back, and 6 new cities to discover.