A first impression of Lyon, France

Lyon at night - A first impression of Lyon, France

Lyon at night

A first impression of Lyon, France – Travel Photo Monday

Some cities take you completely by surprise and this is exactly what happened visiting Lyon, France. I knew that Lyon is known as a gastronomic destination in France, so I wanted experience some of the best French cuisine while explore some of the medieval charm and Unesco sites around the city. Outside of that, I didn’t know much about the Lyon except from recommendations from friends to visit this magnificent city, and I was pleasantly surprised and could have stayed a few more days to explore the many arrondissemonts (districts) of the city.

It’s wonderful that the historic central district in Lyon is relatively easy to walk around or take public transportation through the main attractions around the historic center. Typically, I enjoy walking everywhere so I can see everything along the way and take my time photographing some interesting detail or an unusual scene that catches my eye. And there is plenty to see walking around Lyon on a lovely summer day.

 

Take a look at my first impression of Lyon below…

 

Place Bellecour in Central Lyon

Place Bellecour in Central Lyon

 

In the center of Lyon is Place Bellecour, a magnificent square surrounded with stately buildings and looming above on a hill, is a very unusual building called the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  In the middle of the square is an bronze equestrian statue of king Louis XIV. Along with some other bronze statues in this grand square, the area around the historic central district and medieval district is all part of a Unesco World Heritage Site. I visited the main tourist center in the square to get a map and understand the layout and some of the main attractions worth visiting. I’m in luck this weekend because the place to be is along the Saone river, exploring the old town and enjoying a nice meal. I also find out there are a variety of activities along the riverfront areas to explore including the large outdoor weekend market and an art show.

 

 Saône river , A first impression of Lyon, France

Saône river at Lyon, France

 

Two rivers run through the central district of Lyon, the Saone divides the medieval section to the historic center. And the Rhone river separates the central district to the newer arrondissements (districts) of the city.  On weekends along the Saone river, a lively outdoor farmers market takes place with fresh produce and locally made products from region. There are pop up restaurants selling local delicacies like fresh seafood, sausages and even Paella which for some reason did not seem local to me. It’s fantastic to see what is in season and sample some local fruit or hand made specialty from the area like the cheeses and cured meats which seemed to draw in everyone to sample and purchase something to take home.

 

 

Morning market along the Saône river at Lyon, France

Morning market along the Saône river at Lyon, France

 Oysters and seafood along the Saone river, mais qui!

 

 

Delicious seafood for sale along the Saône river at Lyon, France

Delicious seafood for sale along the Saône river at Lyon, France

 

 

 

 

Scenic vista of central Lyon, A first impression of Lyon, France

Scenic vista of central Lyon at the Saone river.

 

 

On the other side of the Saone river is another weekend market with local artists selling their artwork along the waterfront. It’s lively and a very colorful scene with different types of art work on display for everyone to appreciate the creativity of local artists from the area.  Also on this side of the river is the medieval quarter of the district called Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) with the main landmark, which is the cathedral of St. Jean, located in the Saint-Jean quarter.  Along the main promenade called the Rue Saint-Jean, many of the buildings are built in a Romanesque style, lining the main street all the way to the medieval center. The cobbled streets are filled with pastry and coffee shops, souvenir stands and galleries including a large selection of restaurants specializing in regional Lyonnaise cuisine.

 

 

Art market along the Saone river in Lyon, France

Art market along the Saone river in Lyon, France

 

 

 

 

Medieval district - A first impression of Lyon, France

Medieval district of Lyon, France

Window shopping along the Rue de Gadagne 

 

Pastry shop in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Pastry shop in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 

 

Fresh crepes made to order with savory or sweet choices

 

Crepes to go in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Crepes to go in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 

 

 

 

Looking up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Looking up to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 

 

Looming above the  Saint-Jean quarter is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière with its imposing façade and two twin towers. Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who saved the city of Lyon from the bubonic plague that decimated Europe in the 1643, along with many other serious plagues happening afterward. I learn that the basilica derived its name Fourviere from the  ancient Roman forum, or forum vetus, where the current church it is built directly on top of the forum. There are a few other roman ruins just outside of the basilica, including the outdoor Roman theater with stone seats running down the side of the hill above Vieux Lyon.

To get to the top where the basilica is located, I take this pleasant ride on a relatively new funicular (cable car). It’s a quick ride to the top and close by is the entrance to the basilica. If you go to the back end, there is a look out point with fantastic views of the entire city.  The basilica is quite impressive considering that it was built entirely from private funds. Surprisingly, there is a another large church located below in the basement and it is just as magnificent as the one above it. It is almost excessive in the overall design and decoration with all the gilt and elaborate details crafted from local artists, every inch was filled with intricate craftsmanship, statuary and artwork.

 

 

Panoramic view of central Lyon, outside the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière,

Panoramic view of central Lyon with the Cathedral of St. Jean

 

Stunning interior details of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

 

 

Interior details of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Interior details of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 Central altar of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

 

Altar at Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Altar at Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 

 The Roman theater close to Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière 

 

Roman theater in the medieval district of Lyon, France

Roman theater in the medieval district of Lyon, France

 

Instead of taking the funicular back, I decide to walk downhill back to the Vieux Lyon and explore the area around the Roman theater. It’s a relaxed area with nice grassy areas to have a picnic or just take a break which is exactly what I did for a few minutes to absorb the space. The place is not crowded and corded off like many roman ruins, so its wonderful to just sit out in the sun and soak in all these wonderful views.

Continuing the walk down from the Roman theater, there are some more places to stop and enjoy the scenic views to the entire city. Here’s another look down to medieval town and the central district of Lyon from a lower vantage point.

 

Looking down on Vieux Lyon and the central district of Lyon

Looking down on Vieux Lyon and the central district of Lyon

 

After a quick downhill walk, I finally make it to the medieval section and check out some of the marvelous restaurants many featuring local specialties from the region. There are so many restaurants tucked into the many small alleyways and clustered food . It’s almost difficult to choose the best spot and dish, so I rely on my intuition and choose something very traditional from a French menu.  I’m ready for a nice meal and indulge in a delicious cassoulet dish, it’s filled with haricot beans, small potatoes, tomatoes, duck confit and local sausages. The dish is delightful and in French they say, c’est magnifique (delicious).

 

Cassoulet dish from a restaurant in the Vieux Lyon

Cassoulet dish from a restaurant in the Vieux Lyon

 

I capped off the meal with a simple praline cake, a local specialty from the area and it’s also a winner. Today was quite successful explore the main attractions of Lyon and ending the day with an excellent meal tasting a traditional dish from Lyon. I’m so ready to go to bed and discover more of this wonderful city in my upcoming posts, so please stay tuned for more of my Lyon discoveries.

 

A praline cake dessert in Lyon, France

A praline cake dessert in Lyon, France

 

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29 Responses to A first impression of Lyon, France

  1. Placard sous comble August 10, 2016 at 7:10 am #

    Beautiful photos, as always. It sounds like a wonderful town to visit hungry. Love the cathedral.

  2. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo September 4, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    I love Lyon and have been many times and each time I discover something new. It’s a great city. It looks like you had a good visit. I’d love to see you link up this and/or another post on France at my monthly linky #AllAboutFrance which is open now.

  3. Jaklien September 2, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    I just booked to go yesterday. I can’t wait to check out this city.

  4. Lyon is my kind of place. Art, food, and more food. The art and buildings look amazing and make me want to visit. The food makes me hungry. I love exploring places through their food.

  5. Vicky and Buddy August 24, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    You take such beautiful photos! Like you, I’ve heard great things about Lyon but I still have not been able to go. I’d love to visit the Basilica, eat some crepes, and walk around the city center. I love when cities are so walkable!

  6. Laura August 23, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    I agree, Lyon looks gorgeous in your pictures. If that’s your first impression, then it must be incredible. The crepes – yum. I wish I had one of those griddles to make them on.

  7. Toccara August 23, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Crepes, medieval streets, cathedrals… sounds like my kind of city. Thanks for introducing me to Lyon. One more place now added to the list of cities to visit next time I’m in France!

  8. Christa August 23, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Lyon looks so beautiful! We didn’t have a great first impression of France, visiting Paris first, but we’ll have a chance to go back next year and I’m hoping to visit some smaller towns like Lyon

  9. Dave from Daves Travel Pages August 23, 2015 at 5:41 am #

    You have really gone way beyond just showing a taste of the city. This was a great guide to read, and your photos have really captured the sophistication and beauty of Lyon.

  10. Natasha Amar August 23, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    Beautiful photos! I love the market scenes and the art market is especially interesting. I’ve never seen an art market like that before.

  11. Jennifer Ryder Joslin August 23, 2015 at 4:10 am #

    Lyon looks like such a charming city! I would love to visit there someday. That food looks delicious as well!

  12. Trisha Velarmino August 22, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Beautiful photos, Noel! Wow, Lyon has not changed! The last time I was there was 5 years ago for my first CouchSurfing meet up and definitely loved it! Enjoy the rest of your time in France and we’re looking forward to more photos! xx

  13. Fiona @ London-Unattached August 22, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    I haven’t been to Lyons since I was in my 20s. I used to sing in the Berlioz festival there. It’s a great city isn’t it? Your post really took me back there.

  14. Carol Colborn August 20, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    We were in Mougins, France last April but Lyons was 4 hours away by car so we decided not to go.You gave me the glimpses that I missed with your awesome collection of photos. Thanks lots!

  15. The GypsyNesters August 19, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Good stuff, as always. We have driven by Lyon several times and never stayed, I can see we need to remedy that situation.

  16. santafetraveler August 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks for the stunning introduction to Lyon, Noel. The food and architecture are very enticing. Great photos as usual.

  17. Carole Terwilliger Meyers August 18, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    As usual, your photos are excellent! I have a French friend who raved about his meals in Lyon, so I enjoyed visiting via your images. I pick the Salon de The to visit, and wouldn’t mind sampling those crepes as well.

  18. Suzanne Stavert August 18, 2015 at 5:46 am #

    I always love the markets! I also could never pass up the Praline Cake!

  19. Rachel Heller August 17, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    What a trip down memory lane! I spent six months in Lyon in the early 80’s working as an au pair. I had afternoons off after lunch, so I spent a lot of time wandering around the city. I liked Vieux Lyon best; the later buildings were too ornate for my tastes. It amazes me that so many people go through Lyon on their way north or south but never stop to take a look at the city! Thank you for this gorgeous collection of pictures!

  20. Nathalie August 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Great photos of wonderful Lyon, your photos of the market and beautiful food make me long for that French je ne sais quoi.

  21. Cacinda Maloney August 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Oh wow! I had no idea it was this beautiful! i will be there next month and can’t wait to explore the region! Thanks for amazing photographs!

  22. Debi Lander August 17, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    I, too, was pleasantly surprised by Lyon and would love to return. One of my favorite photos was the cathedral at dusk, including the river. Did you hear about the holiday light show?

    Debi

    • Noel August 17, 2015 at 8:51 am #

      Yes, I would love to visit during the holiday light show, is this during Christmas Debi?

  23. Paula McInerney August 17, 2015 at 1:07 am #

    We were so close to Lyon but didn’t quite make it. I have no doubt we will be back in France within the next 12 months and have always wanted to go there, after visiting a Lyonnais restaurant in Paris. Just charming.

  24. Rhonda Albom August 17, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    Beautiful photos, as always. It sounds like a wonderful town to visit hungry. Love the cathedral.

  25. Irene S. Levine August 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

    Definitely one of my favorite places in the world and you’ve captured the spirit of Lyon so well!

  26. Suzanne Fluhr August 16, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    When I was 16 in 1970, I visited visited Lyon with my family because we borrowed a tent from a French friend who lived there. However, your photos show me that I missed almost everything to see in Lyon. My main memory is that our friend’s mother made us an amazing dinner in her fifth floor walk up apartment. It was my first experience with snails.

  27. Cayce August 16, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Lyon looks gorgeous on your pictures and I would LOVE to try some of these dishes (with one or two crepes to go 😉

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