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At the end of our first "staycation" post (you can read it HERE), we left you by the river Saone. After we visited Place Bellecour, we headed west toward Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon).

Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste dates to the 11th century

If you are ever in Vieux Lyon in person be sure to bring comfortable shoes because you will be walking over cobblestones. A LOT. It is Lyon's oldest district and one of Europe's biggest Renaissance neighbourhoods. It is also one of the most atmospheric places I know in Lyon - whenever I come here I feel like I'm on vacation, even if it is for an hour or two. Although it's just a skip and a hop from my "quartier", mentally I feel like I'm not only far away but in a different era.

The little side streets and passages invite you in

I am not even going to attempt a history lesson here. It is rich, layered, and fascinating. But I would love to take you with me on a stroll down small cobblestone streets (as I said!), and give you an idea what a beautiful place it is. Even with crowds of tourists (they are here, even during the pandemic), you can just turn into a small passageway, and escape the noise.

Even on a very hot day you can escape into a narrow shady street

As I mentioned before when you are on La Presqu'ile (the area between Le Rhone and La Saone), you can just cross over one of the numerous bridges. Or you can take the metro.

When you take the metro be sure to get off Vieux Lyon stop (obviously!). I personally love the transition - from the modern metro you exit, turn left, and you find yourself in the beautiful square, with the imposing Cathedrale Saint Jean over it.

One of the numerous foot bridges, or "passerelles" over the river Saone

When you plan a visit to Lyon, it is inevitable you will learn about "traboules". They are secret passages very specific to Lyon, mainly in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse (another district of Lyon). There were about 400 of them, and now only 40 are open to the public. You can take a guided tour of traboules (not sure how it works now during the pandemia), or when you are out and about when you see an open door to a courtyard, go in.

Many of the secret passages are called "traboules". They were used by silk workers, and later by the resistance fighters for secret meetings

You get rewarded by an off the beaten touristy track surprises. Secret courtyards, staircases, arcades...

A Renaissance courtyard

I was at first shy to go in, but now when the door is open, I take advantage to pay a brief visit. I always have a feeling like I'm Alice in Wonderland.

When you wander the winding streets of Vieux Lyon don't forget to look up - the buildings have beautiful details , and often times there is a stone Madonna sitting in a corner looking over the inhabitants.

After a few hours of taking it all in take a break and have a meal or just coffee at one of the numerous cafes and "bouchons"(a bouchon is a typical restaurant in Lyon serving traditional cuisine of Lyon). The French always take their time to enjoy. Enjoy the visit, enjoy being with friends, enjoy the day...

Where to next? How about taking one of the numerous climbs and stairways (called "montée") to the next adventure, which is the Basilique de Fourviere? Truthfully, I always take the funicular up, and a "montée" down!

One of the numerous staircases leading up to Fourviere

But that's a story for our next staycation installment. A bientôt!

- by Joanna


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