University of Wisconsin–Madison

There is more to France than Paris

Monday, February 24, 20141

As promised, a breakdown of my weekend in Lyon, France. Lyon is about 5 hours southeast of Paris, not far from Switzerland actually. Myself and three of my girlfriends (“the girls”) decided super last minute last week we wanted to get away from the city for the weekend so we scrounged for the cheapest hotel and means of getting there. We found a “covoiturage” which is basically someone who is driving from one location to another and has empty seats in their car. The one we found was clearly a guy who does this for a living because we were in a minivan, which are unheard of in Europe, and he was wearing a suit. The four of us girls and two other Parisians rode from Paris to Lyon; the driver was kind enough to drop us right in front of our hotel even though his end destination was the train station across town. Alex found our hotel for us and it was absolutely perfect; one bedroom apartment with a pull out couch and a little kitchen.

2Saturday morning we walked to the train station where we bought our bus tickets home for Sunday afternoon and then on to this big square in the center of the island called Place Bellecour. There are two rivers that run through Lyon making somewhat of an island in the middle. We kept walking to our first destination and stumbled upon an open air market right along one of the rivers. I already posted about the one in Paris that I visited, but there was something more quaint about this one in Lyon. Fruits and vegetables and meats and cheeses and breads and even some hot food vendors where we were able to grab a piece of felafel. I was actually in awe of how inexpensive everything was so we would buy one thing here and one thing there and just ended up snacking our way through the market barely spending 5 euros a piece on lunch.

After that we ventured to “Vieux Lyon” (Old Lyon) which was basically just a bunch of winding cobblestone streets with restaurants, souvenir shops, bakeries, etc. At the top of this, which was a climb of about 20 flights of stairs and some hills (I am NOT in shape to walk that; I was panting by the top) there was this beautiful cathedral and overlook. Both absolutely breathtaking!

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This is only about a third of the way up...
This is only about a third of the way up…

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Inside the cathedral they had a wall full of framed Hail Mary prayers in about 30 different languages; I am touched differently at each cathedral I visit here and this was especially amazing for me.

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Down the hill a little bit were old Roman ruins that we learned actually date back to B.C. times. This was the perfect time to just sit and enjoy the sunshine. It was about 55-60 degrees and sunny both days this weekend; my winter coat was more than annoying. These beautiful days just make me so excited for spring time!

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One more stop on our list was at the top of yet another hill in a different neighborhood in Lyon. I read online about this famous patisserie that was “worth the walk”…so more walking for us! We kept stopping and looking up or down the hills like, have we really walked this much? Aside from achy feet, the cute little streets and shops made walking everywhere very manageable. I’m sure you want to know if this patisserie was actually worth the walk, and let me tell you…it was. Having the sweet tooth that I do, and having already had my share of macarons in Paris, I decided to try this baby caramel chocolate mousse cake. It was about ten times better than it looks!

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So after all of this it was only about 4:30 and we had done everything on our list besides a true Lyonnaise dinner. We headed back to Vieux Lyon to find something there but of course had to wait until at least 7 when the French eat dinner…and when restaurants start serving dinner. I contemplated the menu over and over because the other girls were doing a “Formule” which is normal here and includes usually an appetizer, entree and dessert but everything on their “Formule” menu was sausage or chicken liver or some whipped fish thing…no thanks. I decided on the “Tartine Vegetarienne” and I was less than disappointed. I feel very cliche taking pictures of my food, but hello…

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Saturday night we were all so exhausted we just came back to the hotel and talked, which turned into just giggles because we were so tired. Sunday was much more relaxing…we just did more wandering. Came across another market where we bought more fruits and vegetables to bring home (that we ended up eating mostly on the bus because they were so good) and then we went to sit in a park for about two hours near the “Petit Prince” statue. This is one of my favorite stories and quotes of all time; my friend Lauren actually has it tattooed on her side so she was doubly excited.

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This was just the weekend I needed to clear my head. When the bus pulled into Paris the girls were all excited to be “home”…still can’t call it that but it was nice to return to something familiar; hopefully soon it will be “home”. This up-coming weekend we have a day trip to the Loire Valley to see all the chateaux and the following weekend is a trip to Madrid with the girls!