Airport codes are silly and confusing. Especially when you plan your working duties (i.e. sightseeing) around the wrong one.
I was enthusiastically planning my trip to LYS.
Lisbon. Portugal? No?
So there I was in Lyon, with a loose travel guide to the city thanks to a whatsapp conversation with my sister and a timeout article screenshot on my mobile. I had less than 24 hours to explore so I got to it.
Following my surprise trip to Lyon, here are my tips to enjoying your stay in southside France… in winter. Enjoy!
1. Bring gloves.
It's Europe. It's winter. It's f*$%ng freeezzzziiiinnnnggg. If, like me, you partake in a little photo-taking, I can guarantee you will not feel your fingers by the end of the day.
2. Buy a French phrasebook.
There are signs in English, maps in English and even the occasional menu too. But when it comes to experiencing France, half the fun is putting on your best accent and having a go at speaking en Francaise. I also find it helps in getting better service.
3. Plan your route back, before you leave your hotel.
I was rather smug when I managed to get myself to Place Bellecour in about 15 minutes. In your face you silly cabin crew who told me half an hour…
But then, it turned out to be in my face when it took me over 45 minutes to get back. D’oh! Lyon has an interlinked metro and bus system, but I clearly couldn’t figure out how to use it effectively.
4. Eat local, and seasonal.
Apparently pumpkin is most delicious in the winter months. I tried. And yes, the soup was one of the most delicious things that ever crossed my lips. I ordered seconds if you must know.
5. Wear flats.
Lyon is full of nooks and crannies. Little streets, secret boutiques, hide-away hangouts and lots of old cobbled walkways leading to places even older still. Much as I have an unreasonable dislike for those who preach practical, I’d have to concede that heels are not advisable, nor practical, in this part of the world...
6. Wrap up, head to Fourvière and feel on top of the world.
This imposing hill is home to a wonderful cathedral (see #7), some ancient Roman ruins and a breathtaking view of all of Lyon. Spread in front of you like a neat little picnic of creamy brick and red tiled roofs, the city looks miniature, organised and quaint from this windy lookout. Catch the metro to Vieux Lyon and then head up to Fourvière on the funicular railway which is a fun trip in itself!
7. Marvel at the detail inside the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière.
It’s free to enter and, regardless of your religious orientation, impossible not to admire this work of art. The incredibly detailed ceilings, columns and mosaic decoration covering pretty much everything but the pews absolutely blew me away.
8. Relax in a salon de thé on 'Beef Street'.
I loved cosy café Le Savanah; a North African/French fusion. Serving primarily tea and crepes with overly generous helpings of (read: waaaayyyy too much) Chantilly cream, the relaxed higgledy-piggledy decoration is a welcome alternative from the run-of-the-mill red checked tablecloths elsewhere. You might also find some amusement in the fact that the lane is called 'Rue du Boeuf'... or maybe that's just me.
9. Be inspired on the streets.
Wherever you find yourself in Lyon, you won’t be far from something artistic and inspiring. Creative expressions adorn walls, metro stations and even the entire side of a building in the case of Mur des Canuts, a larger-than-life-size streetscape mural which is stunning in its conception.
10. Walk off your crepe-fest alongside the Rhône and the Saône.
Two large rivers vie for Lyon’s affections. Admire the convergence of the two from the Parc des Berges, where the Rhône wins. That’s enough calorie-burning to shed at least two of those cream-laden crepes so enjoy!
If that’s not enough for a weekend in Lyon, I’ll eat my little red hat. Bon voyage!
Love from Dolly x