Continuing the photos and food theme, the next leg of my journey was from Colmar, in one of the most photogenic areas of France, to what is arguably its food heart, Lyon. I said goodbye to my lovely apartment, grabbed some supplies from a local boulangerie for the trip and headed back to Colmar station.
A fast train takes only about 3 1/2 hours to make the trip. I was in a two tier train, on the top level with great views and the time passed quickly.
My apartment was in the Place Bellecour area of Lyon so after my train arrived I had a bit of a walk meet with my host. I was fortunate to be in another very cute little apartment with another washing machine. Place Bellecour is a large square which is presumably used for events, but on a daily basis it isn’t the busiest part of the city, with most of the tourists in the older part of the city.
My plan for Lyon was, like everywhere else, to spend a lot of time out of it. However this afternoon and evening were all for exploring the city. I hadn’t researched the city very well but I had spotted an impressive looking church in the distance and figured that was a good direction to head.
I had already crossed the Rhone river to get from the station to my apartment, now I crossed the Saone to Vieux Lyon, the historic centre of Lyon. I was heading towards Fouviere, the hilly part of the city that I could see in the distance.
First I passed the Lyon Cathedral, a beautiful building in itself, before stopping part way up the Fouviere hill at some Roman ruins. Two beautifully preserved Roman theatres still used today. Lyon was once a significant Roman city in Gaul.
I knew positively nothing about the church that I was walking towards. Google maps told me that it was the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. It was perched high on a hill overlooking the city and I thought it would be good for photos of the view. Little did I know how utterly stunning it would be inside.
First I went down into the crypt, which was enormous and as large and many churches, but then when I emerged back upstairs and entered the Basilica I had to sit down. I have been in a lot of churches and make no secret that I am not at all religious, but I am impressed by beautiful buildings and this was one of the most stunning I had ever the pleasure to see. The colors and the detail were utterly incredible. I am so glad that I had decided to wander in that direction. it completely took my breath away. I sat for a while and just took it all in before moving around to take some photos.
I love it when I am surprised like that despite my planning. From the Basilica I lingered for a little longer enjoying the view then made my way back down to Vieux Lyon via the rose garden on the hill.
The final part of my afternoon was spent wandering through Vieux Lyon, which I later headed back to for dinner. The entire area was alive with food. From the numerous bouchons (traditional local restaurants), to the mobile creperies and many shops selling chocolates and praline I knew I wasn’t going to go hungry here.
The bouchons offered set menu options of varying prices that were much better value than ordering separately. So for my first meal in Lyon I enjoyed a lyonnaise salad, sausage dish and a chocolate fondant to finish.
A walk back through Vieux Lyon and back across the beautifully lit up Saone finished my day.