The first time I arrived at Lyon Part-Dieu was in February 2006. My train was two hours late, having hit a car enroute, & I was worried about my hostel reservation. Another girl on the train noticed & set my mind at ease, offering to let me stay with her if worse came to worse. As soon as the train stopped, she put me on the quickest bus towards the hostel, her contact info saved in my phone in case my reservation had been cancelled.

I didn’t wind up needing to take her up on her kind offer, but it was nice to have made a friend & experience such kindness from a total stranger. It was the beginning of my love affair with Lyon & when I decided to move to France in 2008, it was the first city that came to mind. It turned out to be the best choice. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend a visit. It’s big enough to keep you occupied, while still being walkable & friendly. Three days is plenty of time to see the city, eat at a few fabulous restaurants, & get a feel for daily life.

Day 1

During my seven months abroad, I had three visitors for whom I gladly played tour guide. It’s so satisfying to show people close to you your home. I’ve told N so many stories of this place & when we started planning our honeymoon, I hoped he’d be game for a visit. This place is such a huge part of my identity that I couldn’t wait to share it with my new husband.

I’ve taken to referring to Lyon as my French hometown & it felt like that from the moment we stepped off the train. I know the city & that was apparent as we navigated it with ease. I excitedly pointed out landmarks & shared memories from my séjour around every corner. There’s something so special to me about this level of ease in a place. It goes beyond comfort. I’m struggling to explain what I mean, so I can only suggest you live abroad yourself. I’ve talked about how life changing I think this experience is before & I’m sure I will continue to do so for a long time because I really & truly believe it. (You can read those posts here.)

We had rented an apartment on AirBnB again & (again) it did not disappoint. Around the corner from Place Sathonay (a square I passed daily when I lived here), our apartment featured two large windows that framed the beautiful Fourvière Hill. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. The living room was perfect for relaxing with a bottle of wine & some cheese & charcuterie from the market up the hill (which we did, of course) & we were just down the hill from my old apartment. Thank you, AirBnB!

Our temporary Lyonnaise home


It was a bit of an odd time of day by the time we got settled – too early for dinner & too late for lunch.  We’d eaten on the train but I knew we needed some fuel for our climb up to Fourvière. We settled on moules & frites to share at a Léon de B just off the pedestrian street, rue Mercière. It’s a bit of a touristy spot, but they serve great Belgian beer, unlimited fries, & large servings of moules. I can’t argue with that.


Rejuvenated, we headed out for our hike. We made a quick stop at Bellecour & the statue of le Petit Prince & Antoine de St Exupéry. If you attended our wedding, you know that I translated a passage from this famous book. My favourite quote is inscribed on the side of this statue. The fact that Exupéry is from Lyon had a lot to do with my choosing this particular passage. Ah the symbolism.

On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

Fourvière – la colline qui prie

Fourvière is known as la colline qui prie (the hill that prays) because of the iconic white basilica atop this hill. It also features the remains of a roman amphitheater & smaller Odeon. You’re rewarded with these incredible, & slightly unexpected, roman ruins as you near the top. You can see the basilica up a little further, but I can rarely resist a visit of the ruins first. We explored the site a bit before continuing our climb.


The view of Lyon from the basilica is gorgeous. You can see the whole of Vieux Lyon & the Presqu’île as well as both rivers. I’ve always loved this basilica, perched up on the hill above the city. Walking down the street to my little apartment when I lived in Lyon, I would drink in the sight of it, all lit up on that hill, a beacon for the city below. I can’t imagine I’ll ever tire of it.

We wound our way back down through the gardens & stairways back to View Lyon to grab a beer on one of the cobblestoned terraces in the old town.

Impressive doors

We picked a cafe on the edge of the old town. In some cities, it’s only tourists all the time in this type of area. Here I found it to be a good mix of locals, exchange students, & tourists if you stick to the outer edges. It probably helps that people actually live in Vieux Lyon.

It was getting dark as we wandered home to change for dinner & I snapped some pretty photos in the fading light. We also caught some Russians jumping off bridge. My photos are quite blurry, but it’s a funny memory.

Jumper 1 in the water, Jumper 2 on the bridge
A pile of clothes on the bridge


We had planned to get dinner in Croix Rousse that night but we let time get away from us & by the time we arrived, they said they were full. We wandered around disappointed for a while (a few of the other places in the area were closed due to the August vacation thing) until finally settling on dinner on the main boulevard. It was nothing special sadly, aside from the location.

After dinner we wandered through Croix Rousse & stumbled upon a festival of some kind. It mostly consisted of salsa dancing so we sat & watched for a bit before continuing down the Montée de la Grande Côte. This pedestrian route is lined with shops, restaurants, & bars. It was Saturday night so we found ourselves a lively terrace across from a couple bars & ordered beers amongst the locals. It was busy, which made for some great people watching & eavesdropping.

We enjoyed a couple drinks there before I decided to show N the club we used to go to when I lived here: Ayers Rock. We only lasted about 30 seconds before we realized I was 6 years younger when I was last a frequent visitor of Ayers. It’s not quite our scene anymore. It was good for nostalgia though.

Outside Ayers

We finished off the night at a pub next to Place Sathonay before packing it in for the night. We had a big day planned for Sunday so we thought we should get a good nights sleep.