The name was a give away. Belleville. Not very imaginative. Still it got me back on track to return to Lyon and seeing as it was the 7th September, the only hope I had of seeing the All Ireland Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Tipperary was if I could find an easy way into Lyon, the third largest city in France, where I might be able to find an Irish bar showing the match.
Getting in and out of cities by bike or walking is always tricky, either the roads are packed with traffic or you find yourself picking a way through ugly industrial zones.
Once I crossed the Saone my plan was to turn south in Montmerle sur-Saone on the D933 and try get as far down that road as possible. Not much further on was Messimy sur-Saone which was having a Sunday morning market and As I dodged my way between the stalls I took a side street that led down to the banks of the Saone.
It was an easy way to escape the crowds and I quickly bypassed the Town to try and rejoin the road. Looking at the riverbank it seemed that there was a walking path heading out of town and I decided to give it a try. 60kms later I was in the heart of Lyon!
The path was magnificent; it wasn’t really developed – in places there was a gravel path, other places a grass path and it passed through towns and villages, big and small, without any signage or indication that it would continue much further.
This is an ideal walking route for pilgrims heading for Lyon; no traffic, peace and solitude, towns and villages nicely spaced and flat too!!
The Saone is a mighty river here and unlike a towpath along a canal, the riverbank was windy and interesting all the way. With the sun overhead I couldn’t have asked for an easier or better way to enter Lyon.
When I reached the town of Saint Bernard I reckoned I should ask directions for the best way into Lyon and was promptly advised to cross the Saone and follow the main road south….I was assured it wasn’t possible to continue to follow the river.
I did and I was glad I trusted my own intuition.
And I did find an Irish Bar. The only people there were French and they were watching rugby. Funny thing was there was a black and white photo on the wall of Kilkenny and the use of sign language persuaded the bar man to flick the channels. We found the match as the sliotar was about to be thrown in!
Lyon was so much better than I expected. Worth a lengthy stay in it’s own right. I was ahead of schedule and I tried to bring my return flight forward but at €350 to change I decided to hang around!