Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lyon, Too Short, June 13-16

 We had intended to spend a week to 10 days in Lyon, France’s third largest city and culinary capital. The site, occupied by humans since before history was recorded, was a very important city in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, our time there would coincide with a major heat wave.

Lyon from Google Earth

The Saone on the left and the Rhone on the right.

The oldest part of town is in that buckle in the Saone,


For such a big city on two major rivers, Lyon has a surprising lack of facilities for private boats. There is a long quay on the Saone about 2 k up from the junction with the Rhone (no security but some morning shade and free) and the new small Confluences Marina that is secure but very expensive and in the equivalent of a giant cement parking lot outside a huge shopping mall. Our original plan was to spend a few days in each location, bouncing back and forth since they’re only 2 k apart. With temperatures well into the 90’s, though, The Confluence was going to be a no go. So was pretty much all else except for museums, as a big city like that is a giant heat sink and it never really cools off. And when it’s that hot we’re not too interesting in eating big meals, either. Nevertheless, we found a place on the quay at 10:30 Monday morning and set off for the tourist office.

On the way into town we passed the Îsle de Barbe

a favorite recreation spot for locals.

Fourvière, with the Basilic de Notre-Dame de Fourvière above

It was Monday so of course everything was closed. We spent the afternoon wandering around the neighborhood between the two rivers including the giant Place Bellacour and the magnificent Basilic St. Martin d’Ainay.

We then walked down to see the Confluence. What was once a big industrial area has been rebuilt with residences, the shopping center and the small marina.

And then further down to see the architectural wonder that is the Museum of the Confluence (closed on Monday. Maybe another time.).

Tuesday were off up one of the two funiculars to the top of Fourvière to the Gallo Roman Museum, Lugdunum. The museum is built into the side of the hill so as not to interfere with the two existing Roman amphitheaters that are still in use today.

That is the museum behind the amphitheater.

Winding down through a long spiral staircase you learn the long history of Lugdunum, as Lyon was called by the Romans. Many beautiful ancient objects including some fantastic mosaics.

Near the museum is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. We had to stop in to see this highly decorated church, built in the late 1800’s.

Wednesday was culture day. We took the tram to the northern part of the city and wandered around the Croix Rousse, having lunch at a cafe that would have been right at home at Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. Honestly, a pulled pork gallette with a very tasty pickle and a glass of Lagunitas beer. 

Next it was on to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts. We spent a couple of hours wandering through the collection of paintings old to new. I didn’t take pictures as the ones on the web are much better than what I could do.

Just out the front of the museum is the typically restrained Hôtel de Ville, the city hall.

After lunch it was back over to Vieux Lyon, strolling around the old neighborhood below Fourvière with its twisty streets and tiny alleys.

We didn’t get to do much of what we wanted in Lyon. When it’s so hot it’s a constant struggle to keep cool; making sure you’re always walking on the shady side of the street, finding the shady spot for a drink in a cafe and, importantly, keeping the boat from turning into an oven. The forecast called for continued hot and then turning very windy by the weekend. But we fly back to the US out of Paris in September and we’ll have to take the train from the south to get there. There is a TGV that runs from Toulouse, near where we leave Oldtimer for the winter, up through Lyon to Paris. Maybe we’ll make arrangements to spend a few days in the city on our way through.

Thursday morning we were underway again and after just 20 minutes we entered the mighty Rhone. 

1 comment:

  1. Now it’s going to get serious. Wonderful stories and background up to now - looking forward to the next episodes.


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