Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Lyon
Lyon, France’s second biggest city (according to my boyfriend) is known for its UNESCO Historical sites and its reputation as the gastronomical capital of France. I found Lyon to be highly underrated specially when you are sitting right below Paris. But it only takes one visit to realize how stunning Lyon is. Trust me, you won’t need that many excuse to visit this wonderful city but just in case, here are the top 6 reasons why you should visit Lyon.
I arrived in Lyon in the afternoon from Genoa. I took the Rhonexpress to the central station (make sure to buy a two-way ticket if you are planning to return to the airport) were my boyfriend was waiting for me. My first thoughts as I was riding the express train, was realizing the vast difference between Genoa and Lyon, yet still sharing some similarity. Lyon is very modern city and also quite different from Paris too. The pastels colors of the houses by the canal on the other hand, resembles the houses in Genoa. The best way for me to describe Lyon is a mesh of modern and classic.
On the first night, we took it easy and had dinner at home. My boyfriend prepared dinner and had the fridge stocked up for me since he was going to be away for a day the next day. He helped me plan my day and told me where to go and his favorite places for me to visit. He also told me the places where he wanted to take me so I would wait for him when he comes back to go together.
On my first day, I decided to pick a few of my must-see places, and wing it for the rest. I wanted to see how far it would take me to explore this magical city of Lyon. Of course, if the heat didn’t get me first.
1.The Parks and Gardens
Lyon has many park and gardens but Parc de la Tete d’Or was on my must-see places. The park is ideal for meet ups, picnics, strolls around the lake, or the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful day. There are also little shops selling sweets, drinks, and even toys for the little ones. I absolutely loved this park. Imagine yourself siting on a bench under a massive tree, enjoying its shade while staring at the vast green field, and listening to classical music played not too far away, well that was my morning. How can you not love this place? But the biggest surprise of all, were the animals. The park is also a zoo! Well this is no ordinary zoo. You will not see walls, glass, bars that resembles a cage. It has more of a natural feel where animals can roam freely. The zoo has more than several hundreds type of animals including protected animals and animals that are currently extinct in the wild. Best of all, they have giraffes! Who doesn’t love giraffes? The park also has a green house where you can explore different type of plants and flowers.
As I walked toward the north side of the park, I encountered people hanging out under the trees with little tables set-ups selling hand made items and other goods, they were also meditating, giving massages, or representing a cause. I loved seeing the community of Lyon gathering in harmony.
2. The People
I must say people in Lyon are very different from Parisians. I’m not saying Parisians are rude but people in Lyon are extremely polite and nice. The tourist influx in Lyon is a lot less than Paris and maybe that’s the reason why this city has stayed so tranquil. I was greeted everywhere with a “bonjour” and a smile. I wanted to blend in so I tried to be as low key and natural as possible, my efforts were so successful since everybody would try to start a conversation in French only to see my confused face. Je suis désolé, Je ne parle pas Français.
3. The Food
I don’t need to explain how wonderful food in France is, but food in Lyon is what they are known for. Many great restaurants fills this wonderful city. There are many Michelin stars restaurants in Lyon and on the outskirt of the city, is mind-blowing. Some of them won’t even break your bank account if you go on weekdays. No three months reservation in advance required either. How wonderful is that? I had the great fortune to visit the world famous Paul Bocuse’s restaurant at the outskirt Lyon just a 15 mins drive. The longest 3 Michelin stars holder in the world. How was it? well that will be another post.
Here you will find a list of Michelin starred restaurants where you can filter by price, stars, and distance. You will be surprised to learn how affordable some of these restaurants are! By affordable I mean, it will cost you more or less as any restaurant in Paris or any big city. I have spent more than 25 EUR eating lunch in Miami for less than a quarter of the quality. Yes, Miami is overpriced and no, I don’t usually spend that much on lunch.
4. The Historical Architectures
As modern as Lyon looks, rich history is visible everywhere. Lyon used to be a Roman capital and evidence of that still remains in the city. Take the funicular and visit the well preserved Roman amphitheater Theatres Romains de Fourviere which is still in use and enjoy the stunning vista of the city of Lyon. Take a stroll to the past in Vieux Lyon one of Europe’s biggest renaissance neighborhoods. Here, you will find the Cathedral of Saint Jean and the famed restaurant Bouchon Lyonnais for a traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.
Lyon is filled with museums. Is even hard to to see all of them if you are only staying a few days in the city. My advise is, visit at least two. My top picks are Musee Des Beaux-Arts and Musee of Confluences.
The Musee des Beaux-Arts
Is a comprehensive museum spanning thru different centuries including an Egyptian collection, many antiquities from when Lyon was a roman capital, to modern art. The Museum has a restaurant located on one of the balconies overlooking the courtyard which gives you a chance to enjoy the beautiful day. This one is my boyfriend’s favorite.
The Musee of Confluences
Was my favorite. The deconstructive design of the museum, makes it stand out from the rest. The museum opened in December of 2014 and is a science center and a anthropology museum. I loved how the messaged and exhibitions were presented and the use of technology to showcase it. On top of their permanent collection, they have a second floor with different exhibits. I could easily spend half a day in this place.
If the other reasons why you should visit Lyon were not enough, this may convince you. Lyon is any shopaholic’s dream with streets and streets filled with boutiques, plazas with big and small stores, shopping centers, you name it. You will certainly not leave empty handed!
I have to admit, I went to Europe at the worst moment for my bank account. I went on the exact time, France and most part of Europe, were running summer sales to make space for the Fall collection. Deep discount everywhere! The weather didn’t help either so every time I passed by a boutique that remotely looked like it was colder than outside, I would automatically go in. Fortunately, as tempting as it was, I behaved.
After a successful day strolling the town, I decided to indulge in a little coffee shop. Why not?
The night my boyfriend was back, he took me to the top hill of Lyon to show me the city at sunset. It was such a breathtaking sight as the sunset tainted the sky with pink and purple hues. After the sunset, he said he had a surprise for me. He proceeds and
drag walk me down countless of steps (can’t imagine anyone going up that many stairs!) and down hill slopes until we reached the old city. As we stroll the Vieux Lyon, we reach the place. An ice cream shop! his favorite ice cream shop. Happy, with the delicious treat on our hands, we strolled the city at night.
The next day we headed out for lunch at Paul Bocuse´s Restaurant.
The mornings were one of my favorite part of my trip in Lyon. The apartment shares a courtyard with a local bakery and their kitchen faced our room’s windows. Every morning I would get awaken by the smell of freshly baked patisserie. The wind will blow in the aromas through the large window hitting the light white curtains making it dance. It was a beautiful sight.
Lyon is a true gem. A magnificent city where one can stroll the streets, the old city, or the many parks, spend an entire afternoon in a museum or two, enjoy the many great restaurants, or visit UNESCO sites. Can you ask for more?