The fourth and final installment of Touring France for the Holidays (TFH) is about New Year in Lyon! Here’s a map of the continuation of my journey…yes, I did indeed basically cross France, again.
I arrived in Lyon to find my two friends, Dana and Jeff, who had just come from Christmas in Caen, in Normandy. We were all exhausted, so after meeting at Starbucks (of course), we headed to our Air BnB and ordered some Dominoes pizza for dinner. In fact, American brands were everywhere in Lyon, so we got our Burger King/Apple Store/Starbucks fixes in before the next 4 months in the North. Starbucks even had Lyon-themed mugs!
The next day, and the two days after, we did some city exploring with Matt, who had invited us in the first place. It was COLD. Here are friends on a bridge:
One of my favorite sights was the Basilica Fourvière, on the top of a hill. We took a special little metro car to climb it at night (the Funiculaire), and were rewarded with a stunning view of Lyon by night!
The cit by day was also pretty lovely. Atop the hill is the silk weaver’s district; Lyon used to be a textile city, and it shows in the architecture. In particular, all the houses have little chimneys sticking out to air out the factories, and the weaving quarter is full of narrow staircases used for transporting textiles while sheltering them from the elements.
They call Lyon a mini Paris, and even from looking at the pictures I bet you can see why! Aside from the Paris-like bridges and Rhône river, it was also very culturally cool — it is quite obviously a young people city that has been home to many cultural movements.
Matt and I went to the Centre de Déportation, which is a museum of the Deportation of Jewish people from France during World War II, and it shed some light on why Lyon is a culturally rich city. For a portion of the period of the occupation of France, Lyon was unoccupied. It became a haven for those fleeing Nazi rule, who gathered to write and discuss and artistically render their wartime experiences. While it did eventually become occupied, Lyon remains a center for discussion and creation today!
Our other French cultural adventure was getting stuck in an elevator. Pro tip: don’t even try getting 4 people into a 3 person elevator. We were getting in at 1 AM after a lovely dinner with friends, and the elevator moved a whole 2 inches off the ground before jamming. All went dark. After a minute or two of trying fruitlessly to bang the doors open, we called the emergency service for the elevator to get them to send a technician. 30 minute wait. We waited 35, then called the fire department. Their response? “Oh, that’s not our job. Call the elevator people, they have a service for this.” Oh really, fireman? DO they???
We eventually got out (45 minutes later), and refused to take the elevator for the rest of the trip. It was cramped. Here’s our selfie:
The hit French party song Les Sardines has never been more appropriate.
We welcomed in 2015 with some of Matt’s old friends and some new friends, all of whom gathered in Lyon at the home of a Lyon lectrice (a university english teacher, like Matt and Dana). We had a blast getting to know one another, sharing champagne, and dancing the year away. Here we all are, dressed in our 2014 finest.
And, here’s a summary map of my break!! Lyon marked the end of my great tour of France, which only grew my enthusiasm for the country I call my temporary home.
Happy holidays to all!