Why do we call the French kiss French? Without actually going into the origin of the name, our best guess is that it comes from the fact that the magical city of Lyon lies on the “kiss” of two rivers- the Saône and the Rhône. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Lyon, but rather the magic this city exudes. The Renaissance has made this city romantic, exciting, lively, full of spirit, beauty and love. So this isn’t your typical tourist guide but a story of the streets that invite you to keep walking them.
France will always be known for Paris and Marseille, making Lyon less prominent on tourist maps. Unjust, we say! You can sense its history on every turn and its heritage dates all the way back to before Christ when it was known as Lugdunum. Our tour takes you on a journey along the Silk Road, the Lyon Silk Road, through the pages of the Little Prince and through the story of the Rose, guided by the smells of the French cuisine and accompanied by a glass of fine French wine. All that is left for you to do is pull out a pencil and take notes.
First we land at the Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport, named in honour of none other than the most famous aviator amongst writers and the most famous writer amongst aviators! The Little Prince whom we all know and love would have been completely different if it were written anywhere else than the magical city of Lyon.
What sights should you see in Lyon?
Lyon will let you explore it using just your two feet. Adventure lovers will particularly appreciate this, since to get the full feel of the place and its energy is hardly possible without walking the city’s streets. Let’s be fair, it isn’t as if you could visit all of Lyon’s sights in a day, but all the more reason to plan a longer stay. Even if you do decide to stay for only a short while, Lyon draws you in, changes those plans for you and makes you want to come back. Although smaller than Paris, easily trekked by foot and posing no need for the use of public transport, it is a real gem. This is a city of inspiration.
The Vieux Lyon District
Let us take you on a tour of Vieux Lyon. It consists of three quarters: Saint Jean’s, Saint Paul’s and Saint George’s. The narrow alleys and restaurants that wrote the pages of history books and kept their doors open through all these years will show you what and where the living was back in Renaissance times. Even though so many centuries have passed you can still feel the rebellious spirit of the Renaissance, the yearning for a better, grander and more comfortable life. This is especially true in the Saint-Jean quarter, the central part of Vieux Lyon. Walking down the alleys, so narrow yet so pleasant, it won’t be hard for you to imagine French ladies in crinolines with an umbrella in their hand walking down the same path, or numerous French authors that could easily have written their capital work in exactly one of these restaurants.
Saint-Paul’s and Saint-George’s quarters might not have as many landmarks to visit as Saint-Jean’s, but they still preserve the spirit of the 15th and 16th century settlers. That is why you should be sure to visit the Hotel de Gadagne, once home to bankers and merchants, and nowadays home to the Museum of Lyon. Let us now head back to the centre of Vieux Lyon, where the architecture takes us to a fairy tale land.
The Lyon cathedral
A special attraction for the tourists is the Lyon cathedral, located on Place Saint-Jean, whose name it bears. A work of architects deserving admiration, from its ornaments, exterior and interior… The interior is equipped with a 9-metre tall Astronomical clock, but it is the exterior that is especially breathtaking, with an astounding 368 glass panels that depict scenes from the Old and the New Testaments. No tourist guide through Lyon can be written without mentioning the Place and the Cathedral.
The Miniature and Cinema Museum and Lyon’s secret passageways
Step a couple of metres away from the Cathedral and you will stumble upon the finest blend of the modern and the ancient. The Miniature and Cinema Museum lies in a stately building dating back a couple of centuries. Spreading over 5 floors you will find excitement everywhere you look. From the props used in Spiderman and Batman to the Interview with the Vampire there is no cinema lover that will be left unfazed by Lyon.
There, at the museum, a secret passageway starts – the Longue Traboule which crosses beneath the streets of Old Lyon and tunnels under many buildings. If you happen to stumble upon one of these secret passages don’t be surprised, there are plenty of them. They were once used by merchants and silk workers to transport fabrics and nowadays make a great tourist attraction. The Longue Traboule leads to the amazing Rose Tower, which also doubles as an entrance to surrounding buildings.
Fourvière- a magical hill above the city
From the Old Town you can cross directly over to the Fourvière, a hill above the city connected by funicular railway lines. This hill conceals landmarks like no other in Lyon. Any tourist guide will take you up the hill, for there you will find the Basilica of Fourvière, another of the symbols of Lyon visible from any point in the city.
While you are there, you will also come across the Metal Tower. It was built only three years after the Eiffel Tower and poses as its worthy opponent. Nowadays it is a well-known symbol of Lyon. Besides containing all these landmarks, Fourvière is also an important cradle of history. Roman ruins, a Roman Theatre, the breath of the ancient world, these will all give you a glimpse into where two Roman emperors, Claudius and Caracalla, were born.
Let’s take a short break from our tour now, and have a look as to how to get to Lyon. After that we can come back and visit one more special place.
How to get to Lyon – flights Belgrade-Lyon
Although one good option from Belgrade to Lyon is to fly to Geneva and then catch a connecting flight to Lyon, it is far more convenient to have a direct flight without layovers. This has been possible for some time now. Flights Belgrade-Lyon can now be booked directly to Lyon Airport.
The Presqu’île – a must see spot
From the ancient and the historic we move over to the modern heading to the district located between the Croix-Rousse and the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. The Presqu’île is the modern part of Lyon, which still preserves its history and the beauty of centuries past. This is especially visible from the architecture and a succession of traditional restaurants. The District has something for everyone, world-famous brands have their shops here and restaurants of exotic cuisine are to be found on every corner. But let your senses guide you to a taste of Lyon’s specialties. Come down to the Croix-Rousse, it will show you the authentic local lifestyle and let you get to know the people who make up this city. It also happens to be the place where we will end our Lyon guide. Au revoir!