What better way to spend a beautiful sunny day in Lyon than strolling the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon? Translated Vieux Lyon means “Old Lyon.” How old? About 2,000 years.
The Romans had a military outpost here and concerts are still staged in two Roman amphitheaters that remain from antiquity. But is was the Renaissance period that drew me to Vieux Lyon.
The narrow streets lined with warmly colored shops, bouchons (restaurants serving the rural fare for which Lyon is famous) and residences are what we Americans envision a European vacation will look like.
Every time I am in France, I envision macarons. It didn’t take me long to find them in a quaint shop on a side street in Vieux Lyon.
The Lyon Cathedral, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, dominates the square in Vieux Lyon. Construction on the Gothic beauty began in the 12th century on the ruins of a 6th-century church, but it wasn’t completed until 1476.
Overlooking Lyon Cathedral from its perch atop Fourvière hill is the Basilica of Notre-Dame.
The Basilica, built with private funds, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary whom the good Catholics in Lyon believe saved the city from the bubonic plague that was sweeping Europe in 1643; as well as from a cholera epidemic in 1832, and a Prussian invasion in 1870.
Each year in early December, Lyon thanks the Virgin for saving the city by lighting candles city-wide, in what is called the Fête des Lumières or the Festival of Lights.
Given how lovely Vieux Lyon is in mid-April, I can only imagine how magnificent it is during the Fête des Lumières.