I went to Lyon for the first time a few weeks ago. A friend of mine with whom I went to high school with in Normandy moved there, so with a girlfriend also from my high school in Normandy, we went down to visit her to have a little reunion. Something about “small” cities really hits home for me. Being from Denver, I’ve always been attracted to smaller cities (aka. not London/Paris/New York/LA/Chicago/wherever else). Lyon was just oh so charming. Where do I begin?
Lyon, or Lyons in English, is located in the central eastern France somewhat close to the Swiss border, in the Rhône-Alpes region. It is France’s second biggest city. We took the TGV there from Paris and it was super-duper quick & direct. It was immediately so refreshing… as getting out of Paris often is. It was calmer and less hustle-bustle. The rhythm just seemed different. It’s always so wonderful discovering a new city.
Lyon’s center is around where two rivers meet: the Rhône and the Saône creating three sections of the city with le presqu’Île in the middle. Cute concept, right?
That Saturday we roamed all of the different districts. I found it particularly interesting that Lyon also had numbered districts (9 to be exact) like Paris (apparently other cities do too… oops didn’t know that…). The buildings have pastel tints which add a bit of color even on the coldest and grayest of days. Like Paris, Lyon also has a famous landmark on a hill, accessible by a funicular: the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is just magical, it looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. From the hop there is the most stunning view with the Alpes far off in the distance. But enough of comparing Lyon to Paris, it really just was a fantastic city booming with little cafés, kitschy shops and eye-candy strolls. Lyon is also a gastronomical capital, hon hon hon! I didn’t have the chance to taste some quenelles, but they’re supposed to be the bomb diggity. And sausage everything.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of Le Petit Prince (1943) was born in Lyon. On the western side of Bellecour, there is a statue in his honor with him sitting on a little tower and the Little Prince standing next to him. As this is the book with which I started to learn French, I was thrilled to be able to visit the statue and admire the engravings of quotes from the novella around it. Fun fact: it’s also the book from which comes the title of mon petit blog. Have you read the Little Prince? It’s one of those books that everyone should read.
My favorites in Lyon:
Café Cousu - Café/Restaurant/Brunch
Café Juliette – Cocktail bar
Candy Cookie Boulevard – Sweet shop
Chez Guillemette – Salon Gourmand*
Chez les Morues – Vintage shop & Café
Chez Valentine - Tarte Shop
Chokola - Chocolate Shop
Croque ‘N Roll - Croque Monsieur Restaurant
Little - Cupcakerie
Mamma - Italian Restaurant
Portobello - Juice/Tapas Bar
. . . . .
You can also find oodles of fab spots on My Little Lyon.
Lastly, don’t forget the typical pastry in Lyon: Brioche aux pralines. It’s basically a big brioche with sucre rose. YUM.
*This was recommended to me by one of my readers, Laurence, and I am so bummed I found out about it after I had left! But now I’ve got a reason to go back to Lyon! ^^