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francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Honeymoon 006 \ Trabouling in Lyon

I’ve mentioned many times that I don’t usually enjoy tours. That hasn’t changed. I still prefer to explore on my own, but even I’m willing to make exceptions. Traboules require a bit of explanation & it can be nice to let someone else take the reigns (plus I’m a huge nerd for history). & there’s so much history in Lyon. This may actually explain why I first gravitated to it. I also fell in love with these weird little passageways on my first visit.

The latest version of this tour included fancy headphones. Not only did they make us look super cool, but they also made it easier to hear our soft-spoken French tour guide as we wandered the narrow streets & used the traboules to weave between streets & buildings. I especially liked the guide’s description of a traboule as “a public passage in a private space”.

Traboules are unique to Lyon so it can be tough to explain them to someone who’s never experienced them. I know N didn’t quite get it until we were actually trabouling.

The residents of these buildings have agreed to allow access to the public. They ask that we respect the tranquility of the spaces by passing in silence. The streets outside can be noisy, which makes the quiet traboules feel especially tranquil. If you decide to explore the area on your own, ask for a map at the Tourist Office: each traboule is marked on the map to make route-planning simple.

Rue St Jean, the main street of Vieux Lyon, can be crowded, but as you make your way through these passageways, you’ll often find yourself alone. You’ll also get to experience beautiful architecture that would otherwise remain hidden if the residents of this neighbourhood hadn’t agreed it was worth allowing tourists & locals alike to explore.

La Tour Rose is one of the most well-known traboules

After the tour, we had some time to kill before our late dinner reservation. On the hunt for wine & a good picnic spot, we headed over to Les Berges du Rhône. Les Berges is a park along the banks of the Rhône, & a premier spot for picnicking. There’s always something going on! This time we stumbled upon a board game event: hundreds of people playing all different kind of games & enjoying the beautiful day. Unfortunately, being Sunday, most stores were closed & we struck out in our wine search at every tabac on that side of town. Instead, we grabbed a drink on one of the patios along the river. It wasn’t exactly the picnic we had in mind, but no real complaints there.

Enjoying the sun on our way to Les Berges
A game of Carcassonne in the park

Our balade eventually led us to one of the newer Starbucks along Rue de la Ré. I wanted to see if one of my friends was working. Turns out he had transferred back to the store we’d worked together at in France, so we made our way up there. Of course, I had to take a photo outside. There she is, the first Starbucks of many! Although, Soufien wasn’t working when we visited, we did run into another of my coworkers & made plans to come back to following day to see S.

On our way back to our apartment, I remembered that épiceries often carry wine so we grabbed a bottle. Success! Who would have thought it could be so difficult to find wine in France?! Back at our place, we threw open the giant windows, laid our feast out on the kitchen counter, & relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s hard to deny that Lyon is gorgeous with it’s old buildings on the hill & Fourvière in the distance. I could have hung out in that apartment for another week enjoying that view & visiting the market in Croix Rousse daily. While there’s so much of the world I want to see, I think I’ll always want to go back to Lyon.

That night, we got a bit dressed up & headed out for a late dinner at Brasserie de L’Est – one of Paul Bocuse’s brasseries. Located in the old Brotteaux Train Station, the menu & decor are meant to take you on a Round The World trip. A miniature train circles the dining room above your head, paying homage to the buildings’ past.

I’d been to another of Bocuse’s Brasseries, Le Sud, when I lived in Lyon & it was a wonderful experience so I was really looking forward to this dinner. It certainly did not disappoint. Paul Bocuse is such an icon in this region, & in the culinary community. A visit to one of his restaurants should definitely be on your To Do list.

As for our meals, N & I shared Salmon Gravlax & Foie Gras Mousse to start. Then N went for the cod while I had beef. Both were delicious & cooked perfectly. My beef came with a side of  thick-cut fries, which were kept warm over a candle. I thought it was pretty cute. To cap things off, we shared an excessively large crème brulée – a desert I can never resist.

We wrapped up our meal just in time to catch the last metro home & tucked ourselves into bed satisfied with our wonderful day.


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Noel, Noel


  1. This reminds me of our trip to Lyon! I definitely have a picture of la tour rose kicking around somewhere. And the traboules were totally cool.

  2. That tour is such an icon. I definitely have picture from each time I visited. Ah the memories! I can't get enough of that city.

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