Lyon, where rivers meet mountains

In my twelve years living in France, eight were spent in Lille and three in Paris. But Lyon has always intrigued me. The simplest (and very French) way to describe is that it has the charm of Paris, but without the shit. It's a lovely place.

So when a friend offered to let me stay in her vacant apartment in Lyon for a few months, I jumped on the opportunity. After all, I am somewhat homeless at the moment.

Lyon is France's third largest city and sits at the center-east of the country in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes administrative region. The city rests at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the former being one of Southern France's most important waterways. On a summer day, one can stroll the river banks, which much resemble those of the Seine in Paris.

View of Lyon from Fourvière — the Apls and the Mont Blanc (to the left of the leftmost tower) overlook the city

On the city's west side is the old town. Walking through the cobblestone streets, one might notice entryways giving access to what appear to be residential buildings. These are very typical in Lyon and are called Traboules. These secret passageways allow pedestrians to traverse the old town's residential buildings, cutting through centuries-old courtyards and circumventing long winding streets to get uphill. There are hundreds of these in Lyon, with a few dozens opened to the public. There's no risk of trespassing here.

Old Town stairs
The Funicular

Those with strong legs may walk up Fourvière Hill, but the easy way is to take the funicular. Departing from Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon Cathedral, the cable car takes passengers up to Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica. The Basilica is to Lyon what Sacré-Cœur is to Paris.

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

On a clear day, one can get a beautiful view of the city from up here. In the distance, overlooking the region are the French Alps, and the mighty Mont Blanc, the highest peak in France.



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