Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 15: Livin' it in Lyons

After a sumptuous breakfast, we decided to make our way first to the Tourist Information centre. Task! We needed to use the metro to get to the other side of town. From trying to break our way in to comprehending the complex instructions in French, we finally managed to get ourselves a ticket. Now we were faced with the daunting task of using the metro. How do we get to Place Bellecour? We asked someone around and finally figured how to use the metro system.

You come out of the metro station right into Place Bellecour. Bustling with activity – people dining, selling flowers, street artists and hordes of tourist, this place is a cultural hub. Spotting the Tourist Information Centre was not difficult. Check for more information. Do buy a Lyon City Card. You can benefit from free admissions and reductions on various facilities. Some trips will also give you a free guide. We took the 2 day pass which amounted to 29 Euros.

Having opted for the walking tour around Lyon, we had to wait an hour for it start. In the meantime I being out of cash and desperately needing money decided to hunt for a foreign exchange. It was a typical case of lost in translation. People giving directions in French... it was a mess. I finally made use of sign language and it worked! Encashing my travelers cheques, got some much needed greens and went back to the square.

Our tour began at Place Bellecour. Here you can see an equestrian statue of King Louis XIV with two allegorical sculptures of Rhone and Saone on either side of the pedestal. From here we walked across the city, observing the numerous sculptures of lions in the streets. 69 of them across the city. Lions, we came to know is the symbol of Lyon. The international exhibition ‘La Biennale Des Lions, Lyon-Quebec’ saw some amazing entries. For more information on this do check

Our route took us to Cathédrale St-Jean. A Roman Cathedral, it is the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon. Built from the late 11th to the early 16th centuries, it boasts of partly of Romanesque architecture. The portals of its Flamboyant Gothic façade the cathedral is decorated with 280 square stone medallions. What’s impressive in this cathedral is the astronomical clock which dates back to the 14th century. However this clock chimes only at noon, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00. We witnessed this at 15:00 hours and it was amazing!

From here we continued to the old city and the labyrinth of secret passageways called the Traboule. The canut buildings which are the soul of the Croix-Rousse, were once used by the Resistance in the second world war, notably workers in the underground press. The Cour des Voraces stairway is one of the most famous and impressive traboules of Lyon. 
After spending a good two hours in the traboules we made our way to the Musee International de la Miniature. This museum houses masterpieces from miniaturist around the world. Know also for the film sets, this museums holds an amazing collection of realistically reproduced film sets, made from imitation objects and models used in films.

With that came an end to out sight-seeing for the day. We took a leisure walk back to Place Bellecour, where we grabbed a some local speciality before we boarded the local bus to take us back to Gare de Lyon Part Dieu and to our hotel.