Day 1,629 of Traveling the World | Lyon, France | July 19, 2022

Lyon! Even though the word lyon loosely translates as “lion,” we haven’t seen a single fountain or building featuring lions. Horses, yes. Fish, yes. Maybe we didn’t look hard enough? But – we got to see one of the most gorgeous, gilded churches we have ever seen, the local basilica. To get there, high on a hill (as you will see in the photos), we took a funicular both ways. We stayed in a part of the city called Presqu’ile – “almost an island.” It is supposedly where everything happens in the city, and is a finger of land between the Rhône and Saone Rivers, built due to a massive 18th century fill project, connecting what was once an island with the rest of the city.

Lyon – Gastronomic Capital of the World!! Unfortunately for us, a lot of their gastronomy features tripe, steak tartare, calves’ brains, and various organ meats, which we do not care for. The cuisine here is heavy on meats, and we tend to like chicken and vegetarian dishes. In addition, we found the perplexing problem of restaurants closing very early in the afternoon and not opening again until much later in the evening. We showed up to one restaurant whose own hours, written on their door, said they were open, only to find it locked up. After that, we called another to ensure it was open, and when we got there (driving several miles), they said it was three more hours before they would be serving food, even though they were “open.” Many of those situations happen to us often in Europe, with seemingly infinite variations. Just when we think we have figured out every question we can ask to ensure that we can eat something, they come up with a new way to foil us. It is turning into quite a game. We should have it mastered in a week or so, the day we leave France for London!

The “traboules” of Lyon almost got by us, but they couldn’t hide from us – we found them. They are Lyon’s own covered passageways from the renaissance, which are fun to discover and walk through (although some that were recommended in articles are boarded shut!). We walked alongside both rivers and felt lucky to see some of Lyon’s famed “frescoes” – buildings that have been completely taken over with painted scenes. Lots of people were standing with us, gawking. And we ventured out to two of Lyon’s sites of Roman ruins. Even though it was very hot, we went to a lot of places. Now we are heading to the Riviera for some beach time and not as much walking as we have been doing. We saw on the news last night that Nantes, where we spent time in May, hit 115 degrees yesterday! Parts of France in the west are experiencing wildfires. It is scorching hot here. We so appreciate air conditioning, when we can get it in Europe!

The Bartholdi Fountain (1892) in Place des Terreaux, designed by 23-year-old Frederic Bartholdi (who also designed the Statue of Liberty). France is represented as a woman in a chariot, with rearing horses symbolizing the four main rivers of France.
Palais de la Bourse de Lyon, the former stock exchange of the city.
Walking along the Rhône River, dotted by pedestrian and vehicular bridges.
Ancient Lugdunum Theater of Lyon, built (perhaps) under Augustus. It was uncovered by chance at the end of the 19th century, and restoration started in 1933. Seating 10,000 people, today it is still used for concerts and events…you can see the tents and stage being erected.
Unique to Lyon is this architectural feature, called “traboules.” They are renaissance passageways that run through the Old City to the Saone River, used by silk workers to travel back and forth to boats without having to walk through rain, for example.
Another traboule – fun to discover and walk through, just because they aren’t found anywhere else!
Lyon has also been called the City of Frescoes. There are about 100 painted buildings here. This is the “library of the city.”
The other side of the “library.
Hotel de Ville de Lyon – City Hall, NOT a hotel!
The Fresque de Lyonnaise, depicting 30 famous citizens of Lyon, both living and dead. There is even a “key” in the painting to identify who’s who! Needless to say, this side of the building is flat and lacks both windows and doors. Quite amazing.
This is the (completely flat, windowless, doorless) side of the building. Is it not fabulous for its detail and depth? Note: More detailed photos of this building can be found on our Instagram site.
Walking along the other river in the city, the Saone, we took this photo of the fabulous Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere and the nearby Metallic Tower (which people call the “Faux Eiffel Tower.”)
THIS is the inside of the Basilica! While not the largest church we visited over all these months, we think it is most impressive for its sheer artistic beauty and gold work.
Look at that ceiling vault! It is just jaw-dropping.
There are gold mosaic scenes all around the basilica – this is just one!
Another mosaic down in the crypt, with red/white/blue French candles!
A view upward in the side aisle was no less impressive.
…and don’t forget to look DOWN at the beautiful floor! The entire basilica had these individually placed mosaics making up the floor.
More Roman ruins, this is the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, built in 19 AD.
We always like to include a typical street scene. It was very busy here, with lots of people, particularly lots of people waiting in very long lines for ice cream. During this heat wave, everybody had either a cold drink or an ice cream cone!
La Fontaine des Jacobins. The women of the fountain are each holding a fish that spouts water, and fishes to either side also spout water. As you can see, children routinely jump in and play in all the fountains of every city. Nobody seems to mind.