Lyon, Gate Way to the Slopes

by : Douglas Scott

Situated at the crossroads of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, two hours from the alpine ski resorts and three hours from the sea, Lyon the capital of the Rhonnen Alpes region and the second largest contributor to the French economy after Paris is more than worthy of a detour on the way to the sun or the slopes.

Travellers have often passed through Lyon but not always given this city the attention it deserves.

Vieux Lyon is without doubt the most famous and most visited area of the town, especially since its classification as a world heritage centre by UNESCO.

Beside the Palais episcopal Saint Jean and the Cathedrale Saint Jean, you will find many town houses which date from the middle ages and the Renaissance.

The Maison du Soleil or in English the Saint Georges quarter, the Tour rose, the Auberge du Gouvernement, the Maison Thomassin, the Hotel Laurencin, the Maison des avocats, the famous Cour des Loges hotel, the Maison du Chamarier Saint Jean quarter, the Hotel Paterin, and the Hotel Bullioud where the architect Philibert Delorme built his famous trompe l oeil gallery in the Saint Paul quarter.

From the middle Ages the area was reserved for trade and fairs, as shown by the Loge du Change, which was once a bank and then became a Protestant place of worship.

Fans of architecture will be delighted to pace the paved alleys and the traboules, these famous passages link alleyways together and through them you can explore the interior courtyards of the town houses.

Those fond of archaeology will be interested in the remains of the primitive cathedral from the fourth to eighth centuries in the Jardin archeologique situated at the north side of the present day sanctuary.

Old Lyon or in French, Vieux Lyon has an undeniable charm, with its boutiques, its bouchons, restaurants which specialise in Lyonaise cuisine and its colours, which make you, think that you are in Italy.

Lyon is a gourmets paradise. With the exception of Paris, the city boasts the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants and famous chefs in the whole of France.

One simply has to remember that Lyon is the home of Paul Bocuse and his famous restaurant to appreciate the quality of cuisine available.

For a less sophisticated atmosphere, visitors can also sample the simple delights of a bouchon, a small picturesque restaurant specialising in local delicacies.

This intermingling of the history and architecture of the past with the cultural and gastronomic delights of the present combine to make Lyon far more than just another milestone on the way to the Mediterranean but a city worth a visit in its own right.