France: Lyon Partie Une

August 2007, by Gini

We arrived into Paris and decided to head south to Lyon (which is the third largest city in France) before grape picking. Without any currency in hand we managed to use the ticketing machines to catch a SNCF train (very fast around 300 km per hour) which cost around 78 euro each and only one way - more expensive than the flight to France might I add. On the positive side it did get us into Lyon in 2 hours exactly and it was on time too.

The train arrived in Gare De La Part-Dieu which is in the city centre and connects with the underground metro system. Hotel De Ville seemed the closest to the action with restaurants and hotels all around so we hunted down a room for the week in Hotel Paris. The hotel had a classic lift going up on the inside of the spiraling staircase and the room had the large classic french windows with shutters on the outside but the room was not much to speak of.

The next day we checked out the tourist office which was situated in Bellecour with the Louis XIV statue and a view of the Basilique Notre Dame De Fourviere and a tiny Eiffel tower which looked at bit funny next to the cathedral on the hill. We walked up all 768 steps to the top to see the Fourviere which was amazing inside with its mosaic imagery all around the walls and breathtaking designs on the ceiling. Around the outside of the cathedral is the best view of the city which is a sea of terracotta rooftops on top of each other.

After seeing a lot of people on bikes with red wheel guards labeled 'GrandLyon' and lots of pickup and drop off points around the city we decided to give it a go. With only a few french words in mind we tried for about 15 minutes to buy a one week pass for the bikes - New Zealand credit cards don't work and you need a credit card to use as a bond if the bike isn't returned. Lucky for the UK credit card (as I think it needs to have a chip on the card). We finally worked it out and had great fun riding around Lyon and exploring the Rhone River walkways.

Another day we headed up another great hill to Croix Rousse which throughout the 18th century till today was well known for its silk industry. We signed up for a tour of the weavers workshops and looms which are still in working order but soon realised it was all going to be in french and didn't understand a word. However it was really amazing how the looms worked and the quality that was produced was really high, Tom didn't find it as interesting as I did - I don't know why??? On the walk down the hill there is another great view point for the city and amazing streets leading back to Hotel De Ville.

The weather was prefect everyday with only blue skies and was pretty hot for us Wellingtonians so one day we headed for the Aquarium for a cool afternoon underground. We even spotted our Tang website icon the Tang fish (yellow one) which also comes in a variety of colours. When I grow up I want a big fish tank with lots of tang fish in it. So does Tom.

We only had two dinners out which were both recommended by the lonely planet, one was a hip burger joint were you made your own burgers and the other restaurant was more the classic french cafe in which we ordered a pot of rouge vin and a platter of fromage, meats and salade. So we had to find a supermarket to fed ourselves the rest of the time. We found lots of small casino's (supermarkets) and even a store with only frozen food which didn't help our cause. However we never went hungry with a Patisserie and boulangerie on every corner which we couldn't resist.

Centre Commercial De La Part-Dieu was our best bet in the search for gumboots and raincoats for the grape picking which was coming up really fast. We found a raincoat and riding boots but no gum boots, panic started to set in as we only had one day left before we left for Fleurie in the Beaujolais district. We did discover a big supermarket on the top floor of the centre which was useful for supplies for the grape picking trip.

On our last day of freedom we rode our Velo.V bikes to Parc De La Tete D'or - the largest park I have ever seen with a zoo and lake included. We picked up some flash gum boots from a local gardeners store to boot! before relaxing for the afternoon in the park with our home made picnic which included a cheap 2 euro bottle of red from the local weekend market.

On the 28th we headed for Gare De La Parc-Dieu (train station) and caught a train to Belleville which is where the Farmer Claude Zordan would pick us up and so the French journey continues...

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Tom and some male dude with lions

Tom and some male dude with lions

Mine is the one with a terracotta roof

Mine is the one with a terracotta roof

Ask him to look at the camera!

Ask him to look at the camera!

Where's Tom gone?

Where's Tom gone?

Calm warm day bike riding

Calm warm day bike riding

Tang Fish at the Aquarium!!

Tang Fish at the Aquarium!!