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23 Days in France (Lyon)

We arrived at Gare Lyon Part Dieu around noon and took a cab from the cue out front to Hotel des Celestins. To enter the hotel push the hotel buzzer on the intercom to your right and they open the door where you take the elevator (small but will fit two adults and luggage) to the first floor. Check in was easy and we took the elevator to our room on the fourth floor. Room 46 was nice with a large bed, desk, closet and several small shelves and bathroom with walk in shower. We had a window that overlook the front of the hotel and we could see the theatre and the church on the hill in Vieux.

If you have never visited Lyon put it on your list. What a great city and we had the best time. Large but not hectic and noisy and so easy to get to the places we saw by walking. I could easily live in Lyon. During our two days we spent time in Vieux by walking over the pedestrian bridge and wandered through the streets admiring the architecture and the churches. We took the funicular which you get to by buying tickets (I used my credit card) at the metro station and then follow signs. A 5 minute ride up and exiting the metro station and you are in front Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. The church was beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful including most we have seen in Italy. There is no fee to enter. After exiting the church there are great views overlooking Lyon on both sides behind the church.

Back on the presquile (peninsula) where the hotel is located we got up early one morning and went to the Saint Antoine market (vegetables, meat, chicken, cheese, flowers) along the river and walked admiring the neighborhoods and got pastries at Antoinette Pain & Brioche (Rue hippolite location). Super nice guy explained all the pastries. We bought several. They do not serve coffee so he directed to a cafe around the corner where we bought coffee and ate our pastries on their terrace. During the evenings we would sit at the outdoor cafe/bar near the pedestrian bridge for drinks or at one of the cafes along Rue Merciere. We had dinner one night at Le Bistro de Lyon in this area one night. It is a little touristy but food and service was good and we were able to dine outside.

For lunch on our last day, we dined at the Daniel & Denise St Jean location. I made reservations online several days prior. Nice restaurant with great service and food. The head server spoke good English and was very easy going and witty and helped make suggestions. We got the plat du jour which included a main and dessert. One main was a veal chop with puréed eggplant and one was grilled fish with leeks and tomatoes. We also ordered a starter of the Foie gras and sweetbread pâté in a pastry case. Be aware that all meals come sides of macaroni with cheese and fried potatoes (I think are fried in duck fat) on the side. For dessert we had the floating island and the cake of the day which was plum. A nice Beaujolais wine complemented the meal. The whole lunch was outstanding and would highly recommend.

Again, if you have not visited Lyon you are missing a hidden gem.
On Wednesday we left Gare Lyon Part Dieu by train for Arles.

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Posted by
3356 posts

Thanks for your trip report, Mike!

We loved our time in Lyon, too. We stayed in the Vieux old town area in an apartment in the Traboules - so interesting to explore them! Your descriptions brought back great memories, plus different restaurants to try next time.

Posted by
639 posts

I was also in Lyon for the first time this past summer. I'm glad you enjoyed it but I have to say I don't think it's up there with many other French cities. The old town was interesting - especially the traboules - did you get to see some of those? And while I agree the view from Notre-Dame de Fouviere I don't the church itself compares with it's 'look alike' - Sacre Coeur in Paris - or many of the other great European churches. Nothing wrong with it, just not special. Did you get to the Roman theater just down the hill from it though? That was a pretty good Roman theater (two actually). And did you get to the Musee des Confluences? - that was what I thought was the highlight of Lyon. One of the best anthropology museums I've ever been too and in an incredibly interesting building. But overall I was kind of disappointed with Lyon.

Posted by
1932 posts

Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey. We have not visited Lyon, but have heard positive reports. I am bookmarking your report! Arles was part of our Loire tour in 2013. We loved it. Hope you enjoyed it. Merci.

Posted by
16766 posts

I enjoyed Lyon a lot, too. I want to put in a good word for the Resistance Museum and the Textile Museum.

Posted by
11153 posts

Thanks for your trip report!

Add me to the list of the people who like Lyon a lot. It's my favorite city in France after Paris.

Posted by
230 posts

I’m glad you enjoyed Lyon! We were just there last weekend, and it didn’t really thrill me. But maybe it had to do with our trip in general (Lyon followed a whirlwind trip through Italy and the Cote d’Azur, and it was a stop on the way to Paris for us -and we were TIRED by that point! The first afternoon we were there I spent in a lavarie automatique to catch up on our laundry!)

We did a one-hour riverboat cruise which was probably the most enjoyable thing we did because it was relaxing. We also took the funiculaire up to the basilica for the great view. And I spent a nice hour in the Musee des arts décoratifs. Otherwise, I was a little overwhelmed with how big the city is, but I guess I should have expected that since it is the third largest in France! But we didn’t even eat at any restaurants while we were there because 1. We’re just not foodies, so haute cuisine doesn't interest us much, and 2. We were burned out on restaurants by that point in our trip so we just bought food at Carrefour and ate it in the courtyard of our hotel (the only GOOD thing about Hotel Alexandre, in case anyone is considering staying there.)

But again, it’s good to hear you enjoyed Lyon. At a different time and in a different frame of mind, I might have enjoyed it more.