The Best of Lyon (According to Landen)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can you believe that we are already home?  In some ways, it went very quickly, and in some ways our time in France seemed like SUCH a long time.  Funny how that happens.  Either way, the adventure is over and we are back to our normal lives (plus a lot of laundry and very little food in the fridge).

Lyon is a wonderful city, and I absolutely loved it.  Before I leave this adventure behind, I wanted to give you a few highlights of what I would take you to if you came to visit me.  A virtual tour of my favorite places with a few photos; some you have seen before, and a few new ones.

1.  Fourvière: This basilica sits up on a bluff overlooking the river, and the view from up there is incredible.   The inside is insanely ornate with several very large mosaics on the walls.  The mosaics depict some bible stories and a few other events (some crusades, maybe), and parts of each mosaic are done in gold tile, so they change color as the light hits them from different angles.  They are spectacular, and when you walk in, the colors, the mosaics, the carving and other details will take your breath away.  It is absolutely worth seeing!  Plus, it is one of the most iconic buildings in Lyon.  Practically every photo of Lyon has the basilica on the hill in it.

2.  Parc de la Tete d'Or:  I wish every city could have a park like Tete d'Or.  This park includes a large botanical garden, housed in several very cool glass and metal buildings.  There is a very large and pretty lake where you can rent rowboats on the weekend.  There is also a good-sized zoo that is free, and is organically incorporated into the park.  They have a bear, lions, a leopard, monkeys, red pandas and more.  A few days ago, I walked through there on a sunny afternoon and saw a tiny baby deer in the deer and emu enclosure that looked like it had only been on earth a few hours!  It was tiny and beautiful and staggering around on wobbly legs!
Another cool thing is that it is definitely a park that's used by the people who live here, and you can see families, couples of all ages, friends and children spending time in this park at any given time during the week! Lots of games of soccer, people on bikes and running, business people eating lunch, and parents taking their kids to the zoo.  We loved it!

3.  Vieux Lyon:  This is one of my very favorite areas in the city, and by far the oldest.  We come here at least once a week to wander around, buy maps (we have now been to one particular map shop 3 times, the last time Adam went in, they gave him a frequent shopper discount), or eat ice cream.  It's the best!  This part of the city is very old, and the buildings show it.  The beautiful, narrow streets are cobblestoned and peppered with quaint, little shops and lots of restaurants with tables spilling onto the sidewalk, covered in checkered table clothes.  It is very touristy, but it has such an irresistible charm about it!  A few particular reasons to visit:
     a.  The Traboules:  Lyon has rather fascinating history involving silk-weaving.  Apparently back in the day, when local silk making was a really big deal, the weavers often had to move the silk through the city when it was raining.  Because water can ruin silk, they built passageways through the bottoms of buildings in order to allow the weavers to walk between streets without getting the silk wet.  Many of those passages are still around and they are so cool to explore as they often open into beautiful courtyards with balconies and other nifty secrets.
     b.  The Bouchon:  This is a type of restaurant specific to Lyon that generally focuses on regional cuisine.  They serve a few different Lyonnais dishes including quenelles (a type of dumpling) and a few other items that you won't see places outside of Lyon.  Some are good, some are not.  I have only tried one bouchon, but you have to eat at one while you visit!  There are loads of them around the city, but Vieux Lyon is the place to do it, I think.  It adds some extra authenticity to the experience.
     c.  Nardonne Ice Cream:  This suggestion sounds ridiculous, but stay with me.  I like ice cream a lot.  I always have.  I eat lots of ice cream, and am willing to spend more money on smaller quantities of higher quality ice cream than less money on large quantities of cheap dairy desserts.  Nardonne's ice cream is some of the best I have ever had!  My favorite flavors include Bueno bar, Speculoos,  blood orange, almond, and rose praline.  Not every flavor we have tried has been amazing, but overall, their ice cream has been a favorite part of our trip!  So many nice afternoons have been spent licking an ice cream cone in the square across the street from the Nardonne shop.

4.  Saint Antoine Market:  I love the idea and the reality of farmers' markets.  I wish we had one that was closer to our apartment in Austin, because I love going and seeing all those beautifully organized fresh fruits and vegetables!  This market is open every morning but Monday (we found that out the hard way) and it sells incredibly fresh and gorgeous produce.  We have purchased fruit from here a few times, and everything has been amazing!  The strawberries in particular have been some of the best of my life!  It is nice to pick up a little basket of them and eat them by the river.  There is something so summery about having strawberry juice running down your hands and face.  Also Fox is always insistent that you share.

Goodbye, Lyon.  We will miss you!  Thanks for a fabulous time!  

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