We spent a week in Lyon, lapping up the sights of it’s beautiful buildings, parks and streets, as well as it’s historical sites. Lyon is a very old city that was established during Roman times before 40BCE. It’s location was useful because it is at the confluence of two main rivers the Rhône and Saône. This allows for very pretty waterfront buildings and lots of decorated bridges.
On our first exploration of Lyon we stumbled across a Roman amphitheatre, at the top of the hill, close to where we were staying. We wandered all the way down to the bottom of the hill where the Rhone river was flowing. Enticed by some beautiful churches on the other side, we crossed over and stumbled across a medieval area of the city. It had narrow cobblestone streets with medieval three-storey buildings.
We ended up outside the cathedral of Saint John the Baptist but had been aiming for a basilica that was high on a hill. What I loved about exploring Lyon with no agenda was the ability to stumble across Roman ruins from around 0CE or medieval streets from around the 1500’s or gothic churches from the 1600’s or baroque style buildings from the 1800’s. Seeing so many buildings and streets and churches in Europe has allowed me to make sense of history lessons I was taught in college or of church rituals or of artistic descriptions – all of which are so out of context and had no meaning for me in New Zealand, which is so far away from this world. In Lyon, so much of it’s history has been preserved in the physical city itself.
We got distracted by a film museum and forgot our search for the basilica. We didn’t know Lyon has a rich history in film making, even having some of the first film makers ever.
For Carmelo and Giselle this was a treat because they enjoy learning behind the scenes stuff. We learnt about some techniques they use for story planning and saw some gruesome props from famous thrillers. There was also a miniature version of sets that were used in movies when they don’t need to recreate a life size version because they cost much less but look real.
We checked out the fine arts museum of Lyon which was full of historical art pieces. It was too big to see all of it in one visit so we saw what we could.
Later we learnt that Lyon is famous for being an art hub. When we spent the weekend with Geeta, they took us to the local Sunday street art market where there were lots of talented artists selling sculptures, paintings, sketches, and more. I couldn’t believe how fascinating their artwork was and it was not in some art gallery but being sold in a street market. They have a really high calibre of artists.
Geeta’s family took us to the massive park next to the zoo. We were too late to visit the zoo but the park was worth visiting anyway. It was the nearest greenery to the city, being only a thirty minute walk from the centre, so it gets crowded on weekends.
In the middle of the pond was a World War I memorial. Just outside the park was a carousel which I learnt is common in French towns. Each carousel will have it’s own pictures on the top that are specific to the city the carousel is in.
There are two rivers that meet in Lyon so there are lots of bridges. My favourite part about these bridges was how Kenzo and Geeta’s son ran across them. It was heart-warming to see how well they played together and how much fun Kenzo was having with his new friend.
In Lyon’s central area there are lots of grand buildings like the town hall where the square in front has a pretty fountain or manicured gardens. It seemed like all the apartment buildings in the main area had a pretty facade. We noticed that the lower floors were more decorate than the ones at the top and wondered why. We decided it was because when you stare up at the building, the lower ones are viewed more often than the upper ones. The churches were ornate. As much as I love going into churches, we went into very few of them. The ones I did see were awesome – literally I was in awe as I looked at the ceilings and statues and paintings. Even the baptismal fonts and stations of the cross tend to be pieces of art. Click on the photos to check out some of buildings that grabbed our attention.