You have to hand it to the French! Tram looks like it is running on grass! Isn’t it an imaginative merger of technology and nature?
A unique attraction of Lyon is exploring the City’s Traboules.
Between courtyards and through buildings, secret alleyways and staircases once provided safe and efficient passage for silk workers to get their wares to and from market unmarred.
There were thousands of silk weavers in Lyon during the 19th century called ‘Canuts’. Poorly treated they rebelled and
They were also supposedly used to evade capture by the Germans in World War 2 and preventing the complete capture of this area.
Only a fraction of the Traboules are open to the public. Well worth exploring if you happen to cycle down the Saone or Rhone into Vieux Lyon!
My goal was to look at the route from Dijon to Lyon via Cluny and see the great ruins of the Monastery of Cluny. That was achieved ahead of time but I had it in the back of my mind to try and push on past Lyon in the direction of Chambery.
Now Chambery was simply too far in the time allotted as I would have to back track to Lyon to catch my return flight to Dublin.
I always like to trust in local knowledge and if I were to get out of Lyon on my bike I would need a route that was safe. The solution was staring me in the face – a local suggested a bike path along the Rhone! I was a bit sceptical as this would mean heading north when I really wanted to go east but knowing the river looped south later that it might be worth exploring for future trips.
The Saone and mighty Rhone meet in Lyon, the city is defined by these two great rivers and the advice was to get onto the east bank of the Rhone, follow it to the Pont (Bridge) Winston Churchill and cross back to the west bank where I was assured there was a bike path.
Now there is a renowned bike path from Geneva to the Med, along the Rhone, but unfortunately it was on the eastern side and I was on the wrong bank!
Nonetheless I was following a rough path and was pleased with my progress. But for future reference, the path to follow is on the eastern bank.
For cyclists this can be a good way to get from Lyon to relatively close to Chambery. Worth investigating further.
There is a good website where you can download gps tracks – the ViaRhona.
It wasn’t a wasted day, it actually turned into a significant one with a visit to the beautifully restored village of Perouges, adjacent to Meximeux. Bit of a climb into the village but well worth it.
Reluctantly I could go no further than Peruges/Meximeux and headed back by train (French trains are so bike friendly).
Heading back to Lyon though was a great way to finish this little bike journey. I didn’t appreciate in September how much I actually got done or how enjoyable it was.
There’s something about making a journey under your own steam, whether by bike or walking that makes it more meaningful. It’s a great way to really see the country in which you are travelling and lets you empty your head and just be in the moment. Add in the sights, sounds and history and it’s a pretty good way to go!
After four good days of cycling it was nice to have time off.
Lyon is one of the few cities I would like to revisit. I was well impressed – the old city invites you to explore every nook and cranny. There’s a story behind every sight. New and old.
I suppose the entrance to the city along the Saone river bank made for a pleasant introduction to the third largest city in France. The meandering Saone had me pushing harder on the pedals to see what was beyond the next bend. And suddenly I was in the centre.
It’s a city dripping with history, with colour, and full of friendly people. It would take at least three days to really get to grips with it.
Some of the highlights for me were finding the hidden Traboules. These famous covered passageways which lead from one street to the next via corridors through residences, superbly hide renovated architectural treasures: inner courtyards, covered Italian archways and spiral staircases. They were originally built I believe to allow the silk workers (canuts) get from their workshops to the merchants without their beautiful silk work being damaged by rain. Some of the earliest worker revolts were by the canut workers of Lyon. And they were used to great effect during the Second World War to stop the Germans gaining complete control of the area.
And of course Lyon is considered the food capital of France – an accolade not easily won! At night the city streets are alive as restaurants spill out on the pavements and are thronged with locals and visitors alike. Terrific food and a great place to simply people watch!
Well worth the extreme effort of climbing all the steps is a visit to the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere. It’s a helluva climb but it is stunning and the views down the hill across the city are breathtaking. And it’s a beautiful sight from below.
Everyone to their own. These guys enter aimed me for a good hour – they are super fit!