Thursday, March 3, 2016

Trip to Lyon - Part I

Gare de Lyon
One of the things I've wanted to do is to take the high speed train, called the TGV (Train Grande Vitesse). To get the most out of the trip I wanted to go far enough to get up to a good rate of speed yet close enough so we could get there quickly. That meant Lyon.
Lyon is a beautiful old, Roman city that is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) away from Paris. We decided to go there for one night, leaving early one morning and coming back later in the next day.Our friends Henry and Gigi, who are visiting in Paris, came with us.

We took the metro from Saint Paul for two stops to Gare de Lyon for our 8:50 train to Lyon. I was not disappointed with the experience. There was a digital clock on the track and the train left the station EXACTLY, to the second, on time. Once we got going, one doesn't really have a sensation of speed until one sees how fast the train passes cars along the auto-route. At one point, they announced that we were going 295 kilometers per hour, close to 180 miles an hour.

Hotel Royal

Judy had made a reservation at the Hotel Royal in Place Bellecour on the presqu'ile between the Saone and the Rhone rivers. This a charming, old hotel in the heart of the city. Associated with the hotel was L'institut de Paul Bocuse cooking and hotel management school (more on that later ). The hotel is conveniently located only 1 metro stop from Vieux Lyon and the Funiculaires that can carry you up to the top of the old city.

Louis XIV
Our rooms were very comfortable and we were welcomed by an attentive staff. There was a nice cocktail lounge and a breakfast room, neither of which did we take advantage of.

The hotel was on one of the corners of Place Bellecour which is a large square with a statue of Louis XIV in the middle. Otherwise, it is paved with some paved walkways. Perhaps in the summer it has a lot of activities going on. In the winter, it seemed pretty barren. Even the Tourist Bureau was closed.

We took the metro from Bellecour to Vieux Lyon, passing under the Rhone. At the stop there is a connection to 2 funiculars which will take you to the top of the Fourviere. These funiculars run very frequently and are part of the metro ticket. No extra charge. 

Basilique de Notre
Dame de Fourviere
On top of the hill is the Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourviere. (Fourviere is an old French variation of Old Forum). This is a beautiful church that is one of the stops on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Capostelle in Spain. Pilgrims walk from Tour to Spain to pay homage to Mary, I think. Inside the church are many beautiful mosaics showing religious scenes from the bible and the history of France. One such mosaic traces the rise and fall of Jean of Arc.

Near the basilica is a museum of Gallo Roman antiquity. Almost all of the artifacts and major pieces of sculpture were found in Lyon, including an historic amphi-theater. This is definitely worth the short walk down the hill from the basilica.

Below Fourviere is Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). This is a charming area of narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined with interesting shops and many cafes and restaurants.

The Cathedral de St Jean is located next to the metro stop. The Cathedral was begun in the twelfth century on the ruins of a 6th-century church, it was completed in 1476. It is dedicated to John the Baptist.

Lyon is famous for its food, much of it having to do with eating any and every part of any creature with four legs, that flies or can swim in the river or ocean. Along with the meat, fish and poultry products can be found fresh fruit and an abundance of cookies and candies. You will not go hungry in Lyon.

 We left our restaurant in Vieux Lyon around 2 pm to catch our 3:04 train to Paris. We took the metro, stopped at the hotel and picked up the metro again to get to the train station in plenty of time. Our train was a few minutes late.... But, we left Lyon, 500 kilometers from Paris, at 3:20 and we were in our apartment in Paris at 5:45, even after stopping to buy some roasted chicken and salad for dinner.

That is amazing.

 More to come about our terrific meals in Lyon...

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