Whenever I get ready to leave a place I’m visiting, particularly if I know I may not return to it any time soon, if ever, I try to pinpoint my key impression(s) of that place. It becomes a memory I file away for posterity.
My visit here in Lyon has left me with the general perception that the Lyonnais are warmer and more hospitable than Parisians — and I like Parisians! From the lovely woman we met on the Rhône Express coming in from the airport to all the good citizens from whom we asked for assistance in our broken French, each was kind and courteous.
Since we spent our first full day in this relaxed city ascending to Croix-Rousse, it seemed appropriate to spend our last getting to the top of Fourvière hill. Only this time we didn’t climb on foot but took the funicular which has been transporting folks up to the hilltop for 150 years.
The view from the grounds of the Basilique de Notre Dame was expansive — Lyon sprawled at our feet.
Inside the basilica was as impressive as its exterior.
I’ve seen a lot of cathedrals and basilicas in my travels. While similar in many respects, each often has its own special characteristic. What I found unique about this one was the sanctuary in the basement. I had not seen two complete sanctuaries in a cathedral/basilica before.
The walls and ceiling of the basilica were covered in colorful, mosaic tiles. I particularly liked the wall recounting the story of the Apostle James.
A short walk to the left of the basilica reside two Roman amphitheaters. Both are still used as concert venues. John and I spent some time in the larger of the two.
We descended Fourvière into Vieux Lyon, enjoying the Renaissance-era atmosphere on the streets so reminiscent of Florence, Italy.
Not giving up on Lyon’s gastronomic experience, we had lunch reservations at Le Petit Ogre , a tiny restaurant serving nouvelle cuisine recommended to us by that nice lady on the train several days earlier.
It was fantastic! For starters, I had zucchini beignets and John had a salmon salad.
Our main courses: salmon with bulgar and curry chicken with rice.
Dessert was good, but not as mouthwatering as the first two courses. John had tiramisu while I stuck to my old favorite, chocolate mousse
We spent the afternoon getting to, touring and returning from the intriguing Musée des Confluences.
This museum has an ambitious mission. Aptly positioned at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, it seeks to spur thought on the origins of life, human evolution in the natural world and in the societal structures mankind has created as well as humanity’s vision of life after death. Quite an undertaking.
I found the exhibits interesting. In this demagoguery-filled election year, I particularly enjoyed an exhibit reminding me of the wisdom in Bertolt Brecht’s words: “There is no Emperor. Only the people believe that one exists, and one individual believes he is it.”
But, for me, the most captivating aspect of the museum was the structure housing it. It was architectural eye candy.
As I leave Lyon, one of the impressions I will take with me is the confluence of the city’s rich history with the ambitious vision of this very modern museum.
Now it’s on to Marseilles.