Friday, January 13, 2012

Lyon after Christmas

After the fiasco that was their arrival in Clermont-Ferrand (standing-room only on a very delayed train), we decided we couldn’t let our guests suffer the train ride back to Lyon (their flight to Latvija was out of LYS), and so early on the morning of the 28th we loaded up a rental minivan with car seat, baggage and all seven of us and headed back to Lyon. With a small detour.


There are few stores that I truly miss here in France (Lowry’s Books in Three Rivers, MI might top the list), and almost none of the big chains are included, but the one place that might be the exception: IKEA. Matīss and Indra had never been to one, and although the closest IKEA to Rīga is in Poland, they were considering making a road trip for a major shopping excursion. So it happened that we stopped for lunch at the St. Etienne IKEA (for research of course!) and ended up spending more than a couple of hours there…

Our hotel in Lyon was just across the street from the Parc de la Tête d’Or (whose name derives from local folklore, which claims that the head of Christ is buried there), although the weather did not allow us to enjoy it. On our next visit I would love to see the Île du Souvenir, a small island rising from the lake in the English-style gardens. Instead, we walked to the closest subway station and made our way to Vieux Lyon, where we had such a wonderful experience on our last visit.

Foto credit: Andrejs Lazda

Though there was little evidence of the Fête des lumières which had taken place there a month ago, the Christmas atmosphere was lovely, with vin chaud stands, lights and decorations everywhere. We ate dinner at a restaurant we had previously lunched at, Les Ventres Jaunes, and lucked out with a waiter who spoke English; although between the two of us, Roberts and I are able to translate much of the menu when dining out, a knowledgeable native speaker that can make recommendations provides for a whole other experience! The food was delicious, fitting for “the gastronomic capital of France.”

Our sightseeing afterwards took us across the bridge to Presqu’île. We wandered north until we finally found Place de Terreaux with the Bartholdi sculpture that had so impressed me on our first visit. By then two members of our group were getting quite cranky and tired (I’ll give you a hint, one is pregnant and the other under two years old) and so our next destination was a subway for the short ride back to the hotel.


Matīss and Indra had a horribly early flight before dawn, and so the next morning it was only five of us eating breakfast and discussing our sightseeing options for the day. As it was drizzling and we had come prepared with very little rain gear, the verdict was to hop in our rental car and make the drive up Fourvière, Lyon’s “hill of prayer”, topped by a basilica and the Tour Métallique, a giant TV transmitter. On this visit I was really able to enjoy a look around the interior of the Notre Dame de Fourvière even though the rain kept us from lingering at the scenic overlooks. With the odd blend of Byzantine & medieval features and the incredibly ornate interior, the Basilique is worth a visit while in Lyon. Just to the right of the cathedral is the real pilgrimage chapel dating from the 18th century that houses a statue of the Virgin Mary from the 16th century.


While Anna and Andrejs decided to make a mad dash in the rain down the winding stairs and roads that climb the hill, Roberts, Lauris and I drove back down and waited for them at a brasserie on Place St-Jean. Arriving cold but not soaked having seen the sights on the way down, our reunited group enjoyed some hot drinks before heading back out into the drizzle for a last stroll through Old Lyon. We found the perfect place for lunch on Place du Change, a tea room and crêperie that had us stuffed ready for the drive home.

Foto credit: Andrejs Lazda
Here I must add a second store that I really miss in Clermont, especially this time of year, and the closest one to our apartment is in Lyon – Starbucks! Our route back to the highway took us back through Presqu’île, and so the first hour of the trip home I was spoiled with a decaf caramel macchiato… it’s the little things!


4 comments:

  1. Hi Liene! Thanks for the comment. I see you are in C-F, too? Lovely blog, I've enjoyed reading it today!

    Great post. I have to admit, when I go to Lyon, I ALWAYS go to Starbucks!! Actually, anytime I can find one, I go. I heard there was an online campaign to get one in Clermont, so we'll see!

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  2. Tu skaisti raksti, Lienīt...

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  3. I went to Lyon for my anniversary last year... why... because there's a Starbucks!

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  4. I fell in love with Lyon when I did a 5 week study abroad there in 2001... thanks for taking me back! :)

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