Lyon is the second largest metropolitan area in France after Paris, and as previously noted, known as the French capital of gastronomy. In part due to famous chefs like Paul Bocuse who put this city on the culinary map, but also from the fact that Lyon is flanked by 2 of France’s famous wine-growing regions- the Beaujolais to the North, and Côtes du Rhône to the South.
Having the international headquarters of the Interpol, Lyon is also historically known as the silk capital of the world. The original medieval city of vieux Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its narrow passageways, or traboules, that pass through buildings and link the streets on either side. Traboules were originally used by silk merchants, or canuts, to transport their products since the 4th century. The Lyonnais also used them to get rapid access to the Saône river for transportation of water.
Now most of these traboules are private property, serving as entrances to apartments and offices. Some looked like trash alleys for restaurants, and were not well kept. We spent some time exploring the numerous traboules throughout vieux Lyon. The doorway to some looked large, grand and heavily decorated, while others were very inconspicuous. Most of the traboules were dark and mysterious, and served as a cool refuge from the blistering heat.
A short trip on the funiculaire took us up to the top of the Fourvière hill into the great Basilica, from where we enjoyed the breathtaking panoramic view of Lyon. La Tour Métallique, the TV tower rising high above the hilltop, is a replica of the famous Eiffel Tower and looks gorgeous in the evening from across the river.
Click on the ‘View Images’ button on the bottom right to get a larger view of these photos of beautiful Lyon.
Lyon is a beautiful city with a lot of history and allure. It’s not too far by TGV from Paris, and it’s worth the trip. You can experience interesting architecture and art, stuff yourself silly at Les Halles or the bouchons, and take in the amazing view along the rivers before retreating to bed. My time in Lyon was quite amazing and memorable, thanks to my gracious hosts Guillaume and Nathalie.
Random trivia: Klaus Barbie, aka “The Butcher of Lyon”, was a famous Nazi leader who tortured and killed many during WW II, including members of the French Resistance. In Lyon, he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, and eventually died in jail of leukemia.