Paris offers many delights that will never leave you bored, however if you decide to visit
France do try and make an effort to see more of it. Paris is but a fraction of the country, and there is so much more to see in the other smaller cities. The best thing is that no two cities are alike! Each have their own vibe and have something unique to offer.
History of Lyon
Lyon was once known as the city of Lugdunum when it was under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was the first capital city of Gaul, as it served as a vital highway for trade and communication from the North to South of France. It was founded by the Romans in 43BC and originally served as a refuge for Roman soldiers. The city only became French in the 14th century and it was renamed Lyon.
The Old & The New
I had to take a study trip to Lyon, and it was really one of the nicest cities I have been to outside of Paris thus far. It’s really big, and the architecture and roads are more in traditional European style! There are actually two parts to Lyon, the traditional and the new. The new part is full of high rise buildings, where most go into the city to work. The old part is more focused on suburbia and has a very chilled student life.
We were mainly in the old part of the city, but it was beautiful and I enjoyed exploring the little roads with it’s intricate architecture and charming style.
There are two main rivers that merge in the city, the Rhône and the Saône, together they’re called the Confluence. The very first inhabitants of the city dating back to 43BC had lived along this river. Like, the Seine, there’s lots to do around it such as picnicking, biking and there are some cool parks along there too.
The city centre
There were many cathedrals in around Lyon, and many amazing French restaurants littered all around the main plaza called the Place des Terreaux. The City Hall, or the Hotel de Ville, Lyon is situated overlooking this busy square.
This church is known as Lyon Cathedral or the Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste, it was the first main church in the city. It dates back to the 11oos and was completed in the 1400s. Even though its interior is of Romanesque design, its exterior has a Gothic facade. It served as an important meeting place for religious and government leaders. Before this cathedral, stood two churches known as Saint Croix and St. Etienne which date back before the medieval era. You can still view the original ruins which now stand beside the church.
The Musee des Confluence
I got to visit the really cool Musee des Confluences (Confluence Museum) situated on a little inlet where the two rivers collide. A really modern and interesting structure, the museum does not fail to entertain you with its many exhibitions. The interior’s design is just as interesting as glass and steel structures twist and warp, while offering amazing views of the river.
The exhibitions I saw focused a lot of humanity and society with various exhibits showing various aspects of human behaviour from curiosity, evolution and science. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have the time. They even had real pre-historic fossils of dinosaurs, plant species and a skeleton of a giant woolly mammoth!
There was also a cool art installation, I forgot the name, about the inner state of mind through various figures engaging in a regular daily routines and regular activities through chaos. The environments were of regular home interiors and rooms, using tools and bri-a-brac from everyday use in unconventional ways for conventional functions.
The Basilisque Notre Dame de Fouviere
On arriving in Lyon, you will immediately notice a beautiful church on the top of a hill that overlooks the city. It’s named the Basilisque Notre Dame de Fouviere, built as a dedication to the Virgin Mary after the Prussian war. The views alone are really impressive. Nearby the hill you can also see the heritage site of the ancient Roman amphitheater.
The cathedral has a fusion of both Roman and Byzantine architectural styles, which is reminiscent of its Roman heritage. The building was designed in the early 1800s and finally completed in the 1960s. It has become a symbol of Lyon as well as holy pilgrimage site. The interior is just as beautiful as its exterior, with gilded ceilings, crevices and decorations all over. The ornate designs can be shown throughout the church and there is another smaller church inside that lies beneath the main chapel.
The little gardens are really pretty too, with various herbs and flowers growing along the hill.
The metro is really clean and cheap. It will take you everywhere and so will the tram. The one day ticket will allow you to use all modes of transport except for taxis. To get to the Basilique on the hill, you can also use what the French call the “furnucular” or cable car that will take you to the suburb on top the hill. If you can, definitely take the walk down from the hill, it’s really scenic with quaint picturesque cobble stoned roads.
Lyon was cool beans! Check it out 🙂