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Lyon for a month - day or weekend trips (Mid March to Mid April)

Give me your favorite day or weekend trips, from Lyon, via public transport. Or I could rent a car outside the city, if need be.
For a weekend trip, I would like to keep it to about 2 hours travel time if possible. Any favorite small towns, cities that's off the beaten path, and not overrun with tourists that you adored?

Posted by
1514 posts

Ginger - I day tripped from Lyon to the town of Pérouges and loved that medieval town and walking on the narrow streets. Walking there is like going back in time. I also ventured to the spa town of Aix-les-Bains and tested the waters at the Chevalley Thermal Baths and felt relaxed. In addition, The town has Roman ruins and displays interesting architecture. I encourage you to visit the monastery across the lake. It's magnificent.

You should definitely add Aix-les-Bains to your list.

Posted by
449 posts

RJean, I looked them up, and they're both lovely. I do love history.

Posted by
16765 posts

Photos of Vienne and Mâcon look nice, but I have been to neither. Vienne is quite close. Macon is less than an hour away by train.

Well beyond Vienne and definitely requiring a car is an extraordinary, quirky sight I hope to see at some point: Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") in Hauterives (the Drôme department). It's an example of what I guess might be called "naïve architecture", having been built over an extended period by a French postman.

I would stop by the Lyon Tourist Office early in my stay and ask for advice. Staffers there are no doubt bored to death answering the same few questions over and over. I bet they'll be thrilled to have a long-term visitor asking about nice, less-touristy destinations nearby. If you're interested in a scenic trip, you may need to emphasize that all your destinations don't have to have really important sights.

You could Google for a list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France and see whether any are within Lyon's orbit.

You might look for the appropriate Michelin Guide(s) for that area; you might get lucky and find old editions online for low prices.

Posted by
449 posts

Acraven, that is exactly the kind of quirky thing that I would go nuts over. I am an artsy type of person, and the more unusual something is, the more keen I am to explore and see it. Thanks so much! I do plan to rent a car and go exploring as well.

Posted by
16765 posts

In that case, if you ever end up in Nice, there's a very good Naïve Art Museum there. On the same side of town as the very good Asian Art Museum.

Posted by
1391 posts

There is an excellent bird park near Villars-les-Dombes, not far from Pérouges.
The vineyards of Macon and the Solutré Rock are within reach.
A little further north are the wall-to-wall vineyards of Beaujolais.

Posted by
11153 posts

The Museum of Outsider Art in Lausanne (Musée de l'Art Brut) is wonderful - another thing to put on your list, if you're in that area!

Posted by
449 posts

All really lovely ideas. I do plan to visit some areas in Switzerland as I wind down my trip to head back home.

Thank you all.

Posted by
76 posts

In addition to some of the suggestions above, a few other places within reasonable distance for day or weekend trips would be:

Some people don't care for Geneva, but I like it; especially its old town. If you have an interest in physics, you can also visit CERN on the France/Switzerland border in a suburb of Geneva.

On the south side of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) are some pretty towns. Yvoire is one I've visited and plan to return to.

Southwest of Lyon is Le Puy-en-Velay, which is located in the volcanic Massif Central part of France. It's a hilly town with lots of nice views and a cool cathedral that is part of a pilgrim trail (I'm not Catholic, so that stuff doesn't really stick with me). It's known for lentils (lentilles verte du Puy) and lace (dentelle). I recall when I visited Le Puy, at the base of the stairs leading up to the cathedral one of the shops had an old mechanical lace-making machine set up, clacking away and making lace. On top of one of the steep peaks in town is a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus (Notre Dame de France) -- this was made by melting down a couple of hundred Russian cannons captured during the Crimean War and was given to the town by Napoleon III. If interested, do an internet search for images of Le Puy to get an idea of what it looks like. Here's one that might give you an idea.

North of Lyon and west of Mâcon are the remnants of the vast abbey at Cluny. The whole region around that is peppered with dozens of Cluniac Romanesque churches from the 1000-1200 era; possibly one of the largest is in Paray-le-Monial, which is the site of a large summertime pilgrimage with thousands of visitors, mostly from France but some from outside of France. Paray is about an hour 40 minutes from Lyon by car.

Southeast of Lyon is alpine foothill town of Grenoble, which would make a nice day trip by car (and possibly train). Annecy is another town not too far from Lyon that some people like -- it's situated on the edge of an alpine lake and has some pretty canals coursing through it.

While in Lyon, make sure to visit le marché quai St. Antoine along the Saône River. It's a good and quite large market.

Posted by
1429 posts

hey hey ginger
last september we stayed in annecy, a small town on the lake. stay in the old town, lots of shops, cafes, bakeries, market days are tuesday friday sunday. we had a fondue lunch meal right near the canal at rotisserie du thiou, calzones and pizza at al vesuvio in the old town. walk along the canals enjoying the views, sit and people watch, a small van tour around the town. we took a private taxi tour to the different villages around the lake, see castles, hang gliders soaring right by you, the green pastures with cows wearing cowbell grazing, in fact bought a real cowbell for souvenir to bring back. my mom was a cowgirl growing up on a ranch in hawaii, so appropriate. put in annecy and couple things if interested, lunch or dinner at a locals house.
enjoy and have fun