12 July 2013

City of Lyon, France, and the Rhone River Valley

Lyon - a great city to visit

I enjoyed an unexpected day in Lyon last year and took the opportunity to play tourist.  I had to find a Cannondale bike dealer while in France, and was lucky to discover great service and craftsmanship at Velo Station bike shop in Lyon. It was one crazy place to try to find navigating on my own through the city of one-way streets, but the experience inside the shop was so nice, it was well worth the journey to get there. French bike mechanics are very skilled and their shops very cool to visit.

This was a journey into to Lyon for both bike repair and to play tourist. Because I had my bike inside the car (always covered with dark blankets) I was quite worried about parking on the street (crime), so after my bike shop visit, I drove directly to the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon) and parked in the secure underground garage which had security guards.

I grabbed my Garmin GPS unit (another thing I don't like to leave in the car) and used it to navigate around the city. I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, with its good collection and not too overwhelming floor plan. It also had a quiet cafe on the balcony for an espresso. I then meandered the streets of Lyon until I found the tram to the top where the Basilica of Notre Dame sat perched high above the city - a fabulous view.

I liked the feel of Lyon, it is a college town meets Paris, with the feel of real working people. The contributing reason not to get caught in before or after work traffic on the highways anywhere near this very large city. It is best to visit mid-day or stay the night. My traveling family (a.k.a. brother and his wife) found a hotel they liked in the city, I found another one I liked on the outskirts closer the airport for arrivals/departures (both are on my recommendations list of hotels here).

  • Hotel le Petit Casset - Lyon (outskirts)
  • Hotel Central Lyon Perrache, Lyon (city)

  • You can expect good food and drink in Lyon, it is the major city in the region and second largest urban area in France. The Rhone River, with its valley of plentiful farmlands and well-known wines, flows nearby. The food is fresh with a city palate. You can refer to the Michelen guide, Trip Advisor, or Lyon a la carte. If you have always wanted to take French cooking lessons, this could be the city of your dreams.

    City of Lyon France - the view from Basilica of Notre Dame.  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    City view.   Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Passarelle de l'Homme de la Roche Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Basilica of Notre Dame  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Inside one of the many chapels of Basilica of Notre DamePhoto © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Transportation anyone?  Photo © by Karen of PedalDancer®
    Location of Lyon in France
    Map of city of Lyon, France
    One hour away from the city of Lyon is this fabulous wine region of France

    Take a drive through the vineyards north of Lyon.
    I enjoyed the Bourgogne and Beaujolais wine regions of the Rhone River Valley in France last summer - a spectacular setting and drive through the vineyards and small villages. Basically this beautiful area is in between Macon and Lyon on the west side of the Autoroute in the green rolling hills and tiny roads.

    Because the Tour de France typically stops somewhere in this valley, this is a nice area to know about as a tourist. I attended the stage start in Macon last year and then did this driving tour in the afternoon, stopping for a picnic, before returning to my hotel on the outskirts of Lyon. In 2013, Stage 14 of the Tour de France will finish in the city of Lyon, about a 1-hour drive south of Beaujoulais.

    There is no point in mapping out an exact route for you, although Rick Steves does offer one or Wine Travel Guides - you'd get lost anyway. I certainly did. The roads are so small, at one point I drove straight into someone's front yard. Two very surprised but gracious men looked up at me as they stood there discussing their grapes. I couldn't have been the first to have done that, won't be the last.
    Get lost in the small roads near the villages of Fuisse, Julie and Fluerie.
    Remember on a good old-fashion paper Michelin map the green highlighted roads = scenic drives. This is definitely scenic! If you are looking for accommodations, focus in on the Beaujolais wine region in the Rhone department of France.

    Fabulous scenery and a very nice private picnic spot with a view.

    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
    ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®

    Back at my hotel for a good nights rest and ready for another stage of the Tour de France tomorrow.