The delights of Lyon

From the center of the French city to the new cultural districts

Lyon, France
Lyon, France

Lyon, the elegant capital of the Rhone-Alps region, has everything to please. Is recognized as the gastronomic capital of France, confirmed its gourmet restaurants and bistros. The old town or Vieux Lyon retains the largest Renaissance building of Europe, World Heritage Site since 1998. As if that were not enough, has outstanding museums and a vibrant cultural life, which in recent times has spread to the periphery. It all adds to the city birthplace of the Lumiere brothers, inventors of film (1895), and aviator Antoine St. Exupery, author of The Little Prince (1943), continue to increase an artistic wealth that began with its foundation the year 43 BC as a Roman bastion.

Saint Jean, Vieux Lyon
Saint Jean, Vieux Lyon
Rue St. Jean in Old Lyon
Rue St. Jean in Old Lyon

Lyon plane is defined by the Rhone and Saone rivers; Jokers say there is a third, the Beaujolais wine, which flows in the vineyards on the outskirts. When both channels reach the center shortly before converge, surrounding the Presqu’ile, a urbanized peninsula in the nineteenth century seems an island caught between two rivers.

On the shore of the Rhone lies the modern Eixample de Lyon, an area of parks, streets and noble buildings. On the banks of the Saone the walk along the Vieux Lyon forces you to climb two hills, Fourviere and Croix Rousse. In the Middle Ages, the first was known as the prayers while the second was that of the artisans. We begin to climb with the de Fourviere funicular up the slope of Gourguillon. From the top, next to the basilica of Notre Dame (nineteenth century), a view of the city is contemplated. Notre Dame is housed on the site of Lugdunum (first century BC), a Roman colony that became capital of Roman Gaul. On the slopes of Fourviere there are still remains of two theaters, forums and temples.

Lyon, Basilica of Notre Dame
Lyon, Basilica of Notre Dame

Down to the river we will see several churches in the banks and the Cathedral of St. Jean (twelfth-fifteenth century). The temple houses a medieval astronomical clock.

Cathedral of St. Jean
Cathedral of St. Jean

The Bohemian Croix-Rousse

Cross the Saone river to the neighboring hill of Croix-Rousse, which also have some Roman rest. The area came to life in the early nineteenth century, when a major development of Lyon silk industry took place. Today is a bohemian neighborhood with narrow streets which overlook art galleries, shops and luxury lofts. Weavers or canuts then lived and worked in the same room of four meters high to accommodate the looms. The homes were connected to each other by the traboules, passages that even today communicate two or more streets atraversando buildings.

Croix Rousse, Lyon
Croix Rousse, Lyon
Traboules of Lyon
Traboules of Lyon

At five minutes to walk from the Croix-Rousse in the Presque’ile direction, you come to the Place des Terreaux. You must visit here the Museum of Fine Arts, the City Hall and the Opera. This classic building features steel cover and glass installed by the architect Jean Nouvel in 1993, which shines at night illuminated in red.

Terreaux Square, Lyon
Place des Terreaux and the museum of fine arts of Lyon
Fountain at Place des Terreaux in Lyon
Fountain at Place des Terreaux in Lyon

Best of Presque’ile

Walking through the streets lined with buildings that speak of past bourgeois city, you get to the Place Bellecour, the heart of the Presque’ile and the largest pedestrian area in Europe. It is close to the Textiles Museum, another must see for its collection of silks and tapestries. In this sector of the city abound bouchons, cozy restaurants of little space and generous portions where are served dishes fish cakes and pates croutes (buns stuffed temperate). Lyon is impossible to visit without going into one of these places, whose name derives from the word bouchoner (brush the horse) that were once tied to the entrance.

Textile Museum, Lyon
Textile Museum, Lyon
Aerial view of Presque'ile, Lyon
Aerial view of Presque’ile, Lyon

Can not leave Lyon without visiting the rejuvenated neighborhood of La Confluence, located to the southeast, at the confluence of the rivers, it is the site of the new Lyon, in the past here was an industrial area. Now hosts bike paths and cultural centers such as La Sucrière (Lyon Confluence), a former sugar factory. The centerpiece of this neighborhood with new buildings and sustainable design is the Musée des Confluences, open since few months, is dedicated to science and humanities, a place to explore the adventure of man on the Earth.

 La Sucrière (Lyon Confluence)
La Sucrière (Lyon Confluence)
Musee des Confluence, Lyon, France
Musee des Confluence, Lyon, France
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