France ~ Lyon by day, bike and walking tours

Tuesday, July 28th ~ Lyon, France

Lyon, a tale of two cities

Lyon, a tale of two cities

Sitting on the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers, this is a tale of two contrasting sides of one city.

“Two rivers, one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills, one for labor where the sounds of the silk weaver’s looms used to echo; the other for prayer, crowned by a spectacular basilica.” ~ Uniworld brochure

Map of Lyon

Map of Lyon

History and ancient architecture dating back 2000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon has a flair and style all of her own. Hidden narrow passages (les traboules) allowed artisans to travel across town keeping their silk dry, unpretentious eateries (bouchons) originally established by the town women to feed hungry workers and thriving gourmet markets.

Normally joined at the hip, Tim and I parted ways this morning with him choosing to do an active bike riding tour of the Lyon Peninsula with our friend Nelson and his daughter Tiffany, while I did a walking tour through the old city.

I think I would have loved doing the bike ride, but I am still a little unsure of my balance and to put it to the test on a strange bike, on unfamiliar terrain with a group of people just did not seem like the wisest thing to do.

Both tours departed the ship just after 9:00 am and we planned to meet back up on board at lunch around 12:30.

First a few shots from Tim’s morning ride:

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I took a lot more pictures on my morning expedition.

Street scene, Lyon

Street scene, Lyon

The character and charm are not lost on me as we wander down uneven slim streets with beautiful buildings on both sides.

Similar to other historic European cities, the stairs are narrow and impossible to carry large pieces of furniture to the upper floors. In Amsterdam, we saw the large pulley and hoist system attached to the outside crown of each building. Here, we saw an updated lift to accomplish the same task.

Raising a large piece of furniture to an upstairs apartment

Raising a large piece of furniture to an upstairs apartment

The streets were narrow and colorful. Back in the day, many people were illiterate, so streets were known by whatever animal or figure was carved onto the corner piece. For example here is Beef (or bull) Street:

Cow Street

Beef or Bull Street

Many decorative pieces had been decapitated by the Heugonots

Many decorative pieces had been decapitated by the Huguenots

If you would like to read a bit more about the Huguenots, you can click here.

One of the most interesting aspects of Lyon were the narrow passageways, or traboules. Most of these are private property, requiring a key to access, but a few are open and available for us to view.

“The layout of Vieux Lyon is such that there are very few connecting streets running perpendicular to the river. The traboules allowed workmen and craftsmen to transport clothes and other textiles through the city while remaining sheltered from inclement weather.” ~ Wikipedia

Enrtance to a Traboule

Entrance to a Traboule

After walking partway through the passageway, you might find yourself in a charming 16th century courtyard. Well worn steps that show their age, a well in a corner, large wooden doors, hanging baskets of flowers or creeping vines, and curved architecture all added to the ambiance.

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Back on the main streets, we came across a few more items that caught my eye.

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And the last stop of the morning was at the famous Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Now I don’t know about you, but strolling through a large gourmet marketplace that offers up fine cheeses, sausages, poultry, fish, chocolates, and a wonderful assortment of other goodies will either make you hungry or curious to try the unique specialties. Lucky for us we had the opportunity to try several exceptional cheese varieties.

MANY different cheeses were for sale

MANY different cheeses were for sale

As pre-arranged, I met Tim back on the SS Catherine for another delicious lunch. He enjoyed the morning bike ride tremendously and decided to join another group on an afternoon ride while I relaxed on board.

Here are a few snaps from his afternoon ride to Parc de la Tête d’Or. The park was enormous with a lake, four rose gardens, huge greenhouses, a botanical garden, a zoo and a velodrome. A lovely bike path wandered around the park. There is also a legend saying that a treasure with a Christ’s head could be buried in the park.

A variety of activities were in full swing including family gatherings for a birthday party or picnic, soccer games, rowing a boat on the lake or simply enjoying nature and the beauty of the park. There were no cars other than park vehicles which made it more pleasant for those walking or riding bikes.

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Our day was not over. We still had an evening “Illumination tour” planned, but I will save that for my next post…

Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful that Tim and I have the luxury of doing most things together. As much as I enjoyed the walking tour, I found it amused me how often I looked for him in the crowd. He is usually right beside me, ready to take my arm when we walk over uneven cobblestones, steady me up a flight of stairs, help watch for traffic when we cross the street, and all those many things that a gentleman does for his lady.

Ha! I’m not quite a doddering old fool, but certainly can appreciate being looked after…

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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15 Responses to France ~ Lyon by day, bike and walking tours

  1. Great post! Lyon has been on my list for a long time. Very fun to read about your adventure there.


  2. You’re killing me here. If I only had the resources to jump on plane and go. More than anything I want to visit the traboules. How awesome are they! Plus the narrow streets that I can’t help but love.


  3. I only drive through once and was never able to stop. Looks interesting!


  4. Love those street scene photos. Lyon displays its charms in those shots.


  5. RuthsArc says:

    Another beautiful post of a lovely place. Thanks for sharing your travels.


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