When I was studying in France back in college, my friends and I used to travel to different parts of Europe every weekend. Most of the time, we’d ride the train from Gare Du Nord and backpack our way around a new city. Since this is my sister’s first time in Europe, I wanted her to experience even just a little of this. So one morning, I spontaneously booked us a ticket to Lyon, France. We only had a day to spend so I chose a city that’s close to Geneva. Lyon is only less than 2 hours away by train. I would’ve loved it if I could show her around Paris but it’s around 4 hours or so by train. By plane, it’s only about an hour and a few minutes away but the commute from the airport to the city center will eat up so much of our time. Considering our circumstances, Lyon was perfect. At least this way, she gets to experience a little of my favorite European country through an equally charming city. The last time I was here, I remember having a fever. But that didn’t stop me from exploring what to me is like a relaxed version of Paris. Lyon is a beautiful city. With this travel diary, I hope you see that as well.
Our journey was off to a good start. This is one of the many advantages of riding a train–you get to enjoy the countryside scenery.
Since we only decided to go to Lyon on the day itself, I was definitely not prepared with an itinerary. So this is me, in the middle of Place Neuve Saint-Jean, searching for the tourist spots I saved on my phone earlier while trying to find them on my map. I enjoy doing this though. Whenever I travel with my mom and sister, I’m usually the one with the map who guides them around a city. I don’t know why but for some reason I’m good with directions when we travel, but here in Manila, I can’t seem to remember my way. LOL!
First stop on our itinerary (since we’re already at Place Neuve St.-Jean) is the Cathédrale St. Jean-Baptiste or Saint John Cathedral. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site most famous for its 14th century astronomical clock built by the monks to calculate their feast days (not this clock on the photo). I read on the internet that the clock is an engineering masterpiece. It’s as accurate as our modern day clocks but was designed to last only 700 years, so by 2019, it’ll stop working.
Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste was actually built on the site of a ruined church that was built in the 6th century. Although this church was completed in the 15th century, parts of the old ruined church still remains. It most definitely has a beautfiul facade!
Place Neuve St. Jean is located at the heart of Vieux Lyon or Old Lyon. So while taking in the view of the cathedral, you’ll also see all these Renaissance-era cobbled alleys lined with historic buildings and stores. This is why the entire Vieux Lyon is actually a World Heritage site. My sister and I chose to enter one of the streets, namely Rue St. Jean to search for Lyon’s famous traboules or tunnelled passageways that connect two parallel streets. Traboules are one of Lyon’s most distinctive features and are hidden behind the facade of old buildings, inside their courtyards. These buildings have actual residents living there so it may feel like invading someone’s privacy because you’d have to open the building’s doors to get in. Usually, doors are open before 12 noon. If you arrive there after 12 like my sister and I, you don’t have to call the residents, just push the main button of the door and the door will automatically open. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to take a photo of the traboule we found. It was a little dark so I couldn’t take a proper photo. But basically, you’ll make your way through and under a tunnel and find your way out on the next street. It’s such a cool feature built to make the transport of silk during rainy weather easier during ancient times. I also read somewhere that these traboules were built by the French resistance during the World War II to hide from the Germans.
Lyon is said to be the capital of French gastronomy and I can see why. We passed by countless restaurants on our way to finding Lyon’s famous traboules. Being all touristy, my sister and I tried a traditional Lyonnaise “Bouchon” which is usually a 3-course meal for under 15 Euros.
This is a candy store along the cobbled alleys of Vieux Lyon. Can you spot Johnny Depp?
Next stop, we went to Lyon’s old silk weaver’s quarter, Croix Rousse. Croix Rousse also has a lot of traboules so I guess here, most of them were used to transport silk. Lyon used to be Europe’s silk capital so there are still a few looms that operate here. I wanted to see some so we went to Maison des Canuts or the Silk-makers House. It contains looms used in the old days like a draw-loom and four Jacquard looms. They also have a lot of fine silk on display and for sale.
They also hold demonstrations here on how these looms are operated.
You see that church on top of a hill? That’s the 19th century Basilique Notre Dame De Fourvière perched on top of the Fourvière hill. You can easily get there through a tram.
And here we are! You’ll find the church right away as you exit the tram from the metro station.
Inside the church, there were plenty of ornate decorations and carvings.
My camera had a feast taking all these photos!
Most of the famous churches in Europe have coin machines where you can purchase a souvenir like this one.
At the back of the church, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire city of Lyon.
You can also walk down the stairs and take a stroll around the lush gardens.
On the way to Lyon’s city center and main shopping districts, you’ll find a lot of beautiful squares. The most famous one aside from Place Bellecour is Place Des Terreaux. Three important structures are situated around this square–La Fontaine Bartholdi, Hôtel de Ville and the Palais Saint-Pierre which houses Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. The photo above is Hôtel De Ville’s facade from the side of Place de la Comédie.
This is La Fontaine Bartholdi. You’ll see it right away when you get to Place Des Terreaux. It was made by Frédéric Bartholdi who also made the Statue of Liberty. It’s said that the woman on top of the chariot symbolizes France controlling the four great rivers of the country. The four great rivers are represented by the horses.
This is Lyon’s Hôtel De Ville or city hall from the side of Place Des Terreaux. It’s so grand!!! It’s especially beautiful at night when it’s all lit up.
Just a few blocks away from Place Des Terreaux is Place Bellecour, which is where the famous statue of king Louis XIV on a horse is located. This is where we ended up after shopping along the streets of this area. During winter, a ferris wheel is built here. We were lucky to see it at night all lit up. What a nice way to end our day trip to Lyon. Tomorrow, another travel/outfit post from Geneva awaits!
Forever 21 cap (similar here, here and here) | Choies jacket | Miss Selfridge blouse | Bayo sweater (similar here and here) | Choies skirt | Longchamp leather gloves (similar here) | Chanel bag | Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots