I just returned form a much needed holiday in France and I am excited to share our adventures with you. Our first stop was Lyon, the gastronomical capital of not only France, but the world. This city is situated at the junction of the Saône and the Rhône river. A masterpiece of pastel buildings, romantic cobbled streets and breath-taking views. After our visit, I thought I would put together a list of 10 relaxing things to do in Lyon.
#1 Eat Ice Cream at Vieux Lyon
The old town of Lyon is located along the Saône river, this is the Renaissance (and oldest) district of the city showcasing Gothic, Neo-Gothic and Romanesque buildings. The cobbled streets are lined with shops selling souvenirs and French delicacies. This area is perfect to get the historic feel of the city, while sipping on french wine from the many Cafés spilling into the streets. The full beauty of this area is best viewed from the opposite side of the river with the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in the background.
#2 Drink a beer at ‘La Place Bellecour’
This large square is located in the middle of Lyon in the Ainay District. It features an equestrian statue of King Louise XIV. From this square you can reach the shopping streets or just relax in the urban gardens surrounded by the beauty of Lyon. There is a Cafe is conveniently located in the square, with comfortable sun lounge chairs which are perfect for relaxing while reading a book or simply watching people passing by.
#3 Shop fresh goods every Saturday and Sunday
Walk down to the river on a Saturday or Sunday morning and the festive spectacle of Saint-Antoine Market will greet you. This farmers market is one of the best located ones in Lyon, boasting with views of the Saône River and Vieux Lyon. This is perfect for your weekly dose of organic fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat. And if your partner is not into shopping, like mine, he/she can indulge in fresh oysters while having an ice cold beer at one of the stands.
#4 Indulge in Charcutery whith a view of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
If you leave France without having charcuterie or wine, your visit doesn’t count. For our visit we decided on the view of Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière from the street: “Quai Saint-Antoine”. This street is lined with several Cafés Bistros and restaurants, bubbling with great ambience.
#5 Admire the city from the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
If you would like to admire the panoramic view of Lyon, the best place to visit is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This way you get admire both the view AND the Basilica. It is easy reachable via Metro/Funicular. Take a peek inside the two churches build on top of each other, adorned with fine mosaic and stained windows.
#6 Visit the Fresque des Lyonnais (Building sized paintings)
Lyon has more than 60 outdoor murals. It is with such delight that we stumbled upon two of these: “Fresque des Lyonnais” and “Bibliothèque de la cité des écrivains”. These buildings are must visit attractions in Lyon and even though I did not have the time to see all of them, “Mur des Canuts” is a must see on the list. Exploring more of these murals will be my main priority if I do get to visit Lyon again.
#7 Visit the “Marché de l’artisanat de Lyon” on a Sunday morning
Every Sunday local artists exhibit their work at the “Marché de l’artisanat de Lyon”. You can find a beautiful selection of Jewellery, decor, ceramics and paintings offered, while being accompanied by live music. This market is close to Vieux Lyon, perfect if you are planning to explore in that direction.
What stood out:
As a jeweller myself, it is always good to see intricate work of others. Laura Guitte Jewellery stood out with her contemporary range in gold and silver. Her line is inspired by nature and the energy of the elements, resulting in organic shapes formed into intricate pieces.
If you would like to see more of her work and visit her in person you can head over to a gift shop called Funky Fabrik, which is a collaboration of several artists.
I also liked Atelier Adriana’s contemporary ceramic work. Minimalism mixed with texture and colour.
#8 Visit the miniature museum
This is one of the attractions I did not visit, I saw the display windows and only after reading up on it, realised that this might have been worth a visit. Don’t be like me, full of regrets, back in Dubai. Give it a visit in Vieux Lyon.
Weekdays: 10AM to 06:30PM
Saturday and Sunday: 10AM to 07PM
#9 Relax on the banks of the Saône River
The Saône River side is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll late afternoon. A lot of people use the concrete and wooden decks to relax, have a bite and exercise after work. If you are lucky you will get a spot close to a group of people making their own music. Lyon is best viewed from the banks of both the Saône and the Rhône River, something you cannot miss.
#10 Admire the swans at sunset
The best part of the day to stroll through Lyon is at Sunset. The light creates a peaceful ambience and the true colours of the buildings gets enhanced by the last few rays falling on the surrounding features. Stroll along the river watching the swans, but be careful with your food as they tend to be a bit cheeky.