Friday, April 16, 2010

Lyon: The Place - The People - The City (in no particular order or sense)

Hello everybody,

IMG_4538The look on my face in the picture above sums up my whole experience in Lyon, France.  In the picture I am holding a cup of double espresso, bought at a gas station in Lyon, while you may think it’s just an espresso, I beg to differ. Buying coffee at a gas station back home…stinks, buying an espresso from an instant espresso machine back home…really stinks and tastes like burning.  But, stopping at the French gas station, walking in and seeing men and women standing at small round tables having an espresso, which they just call café, is a completely different taste expiercnce. Just look at what what the café did to my eyebrows. 

And if the rather large plastic cup of espresso in my hand was any indication of how our Lyon trip was going to be like…well just look at me in the picture…woooOOOoooh. (by the way I asked for my espresso to go and I was looked at like I was insane, I imagined them thinking in their French English accents, espresso to go, when is the world going to end?)  

I have to warn you now…THIS WILL BE A LONG POST…(PENNER).  I included 60 some picture and it was hard for me to condense this first installment, so hang in there.

For those of you that like to prepare, the coming blogs will be:


Lyon: The Place – The People – The City (today's blog)

Lyon: Churches and Church like Locales

Lyon:  A Gruba Grub Grub

Lyon: ???__________

Lyon: To be Determined if Needed


 Lyon, FranceIMG_4494

Lyon is located almost in the heart of France, with that said I believe it to also have all the soul of France.  I am a big fan of smaller cities and villages.  One can really get a sense of a regions culture and people when visiting such places.  Lyon is a bit different in that regard, it’s big, but not so much so that it loses it’s identity. 

This is when I say I am bias towards Lyon, because I am in love with Lyon. L kept asking me, do you love France now, at which a would reply, no not yet.  But now having left Lyon, I have come to realize that Lyon’s bite was contagious and I want to share…wait, no I don’t want to share, the 2 year old in me wants it all for myself, mine, mine, mine!

Lyon is also know as “Little Paris” It has a population of about 2 million people, which is the size of Portland Metro (Oregon) which I believe to be 2,159,720, but Lyon seems so much denser, like a French reduction.

Why am I comparing Lyon, France to a U.S. city, well because I believe both places, Lyon and Portland share many of the same qualities, minus the unemployment issue, I didn’t check that.  Perhaps some of you may think, Here we go, with the lame comparisons. I have to say it was not I that kept drawing the comparisons, it was one of your natives, and I won’t mention her name, but she happens to be my sweetheart.

I’m not going to talk much about the similarities Lyon and Portland share, but at times there were moments where I thought, This reminds me of Portland as well. Look, here’s a picture of Portland now 1500px-WillametteRvrPano_edit

Lyon is divided into three sections by the Rhône and Saône rivers and then further divided into 9 municipal arrondissements IMG_4383(boroughs) each having there own distinct flavor, and at times, looking different as well.  In this picture you can see the river Saône.

While I have never been to Paris, ‘Little Paris’ was quite the place. I didn’t hear much English spoken and from what I understand from L talking to the locals, Lyon is a city where the French go for a vacation.  Is it better than Paris…I don’t know, but the Lyonnais seem to think so, because they were quick to remind us, that the city of Lyon was know for having the best food, wine and chocolate.

I thought, food and wine…perhaps. But chocolate? I’ll talk about this when the time comes for now I’ll continue talking about our trip and Lyon.

Here is a picture of boats converted into homes and restaurant. Boats such as these sit along the banks of the Rhone River some are even in different levels of disarray and use. Also the walking trail runs all long the river and city.  Lyon is super pedestrian friendly and bike friendly, I think comparable to Germany and another place that I’ll call P’town.


Just about in any direction you’ll see people walking or riding a bicycle, don’t mistake them as being completely ‘green natured’ they definitely like there cars, well sort of, they use them like bumper cars.  Parallel parking takes a new meaning in Lyon, lets say I wouldn’t want to own some fancy Italian car.


Below you can see the St. Mary’s Church which I kept calling a castle until L had had enough and corrected me.



Now here’s a picture that reminded me of P’town and an interesting fact I’d like to share is that the French company that made the electronic meter maids for Lyon also made them for P’town. They kept throwing me off my different country vibe.


One of the oldest watch towers in Lyon. IMG_4083


The next pictures are a set of photos I took during our walks around Lyon.  As you can see the St. Mary’s Church can be seen from just about everywhere in Lyon. Apparently it saved Lyon back in its Lord of the Rings days.  But I’ll talk about that when I blog about the churches.



Ahhh! I enjoyed the confined walking alleys and streets of Lyon.  The buildings give out this constant presence of hugging one, as though to say, you see, the Lyonnais love you.


And the walking bridges, the Lyonnais have a passion for walking, which I believe led to many walking bridges that span across both the Rhône and Saône Rivers. I’m not sure how many walking bridges they have, but here are 4 of them.






We even got to see a protest.  IMG_4117The Lyonnais were protesting a school reform bill, sound familiar.  We could hear them chanting liberty, liberty, liberty (in French) blocks from the protest.  Then we witnessed what I thought to be the cutes thing. A young child of about G noodles age on his fathers shoulders chanting, Liberty, which was hours after the protest was over.

(by the way, Happy Belated Birthday Little G 2919494430_4b9ff8fcf8_b ) .



And they have electric busses


Plus, they have rental bikes that are peppered all over town.  When I noticed everyone riding the same bike, I thought rental bikes were a great idea.  I asked L, wouldn’t it be great to have these back in P’town. She proceeded to remind me how I was an implant to P’town and had no real vision and that P’town had tried having rental bikes way before I was even born.  I guess she said that P’town discontinued doing the rental bike thing because the bikes were turning into lucky charms.  Well, I think they should try again.




Parks and small get together centers are also everywhere, or at least it’s what I’m calling them, these get together centers. 





This park was huge, with huge lake and a huge zoo. I’m sorry but I’ve forgotten the name of the park and L is not present to remind of the name.










Bache Ball is intensely played in the parks. I’m surprised I was not asked for my memory card after taking this picture. L and I sat quite a while watching spectacular matches. It made me want to play Bache ball.




Good gravy!!! THE SHOPPING DISTRICT, I almost flipped out of my skull when I turned this corner and faced these crowds.  For a moment I was back in Istanbul, well sort of, Lyon actually has women walking the streets hand in hand with their boyfriends or husbands, unlike Istanbul where it’s mainly men.  I’m not judging, just an observation.






Motorcycles and scooters. They love’em and are guarded like their hearts.





when you walk through Lyon you get a sense of great pride among the people.  While they are not as stiff as where we live now, they are similarly as proud of where they have come from and who they are as a people, their culture is thick but approachable.  And they do not apologize for being French, never did they try to talk English with L, as soon as they heard her speaking French they just went with it, I’m not complaining it was enjoyable.  I guess people in the U.S. do that as well…hmmm and guess what, they also get louder when you ask them to speak slower.






Yes, Roman coliseums in Lyon, these were built in 12 bc. I will also talk about them later.





I’ll let you guess what he’s doing.




Lyon’s night life is also spectacular. Lyon is also know as the ‘City of Lights.’  They have a light festival during the year when they light up as many buildings as possible and project murals and paintings onto building walls.

Lyon is also a friendly place for night walking, or at least where we were, but we did walk in what normally would be questionable places for me and we’re still here, so I guess they were fairly safe. Besides just about all the walk ways are illuminated.


So I also learned that many of the building along the rivers are tall because they were silk factories and as being such, needed the space to dry silk, there why one gets the tall buildings and narrow streets.  I also heard that they have secret silk passages between the buildings and the passages were used to escape when the Germans invaded during WW2. 


Another old silk building turned into an apartment.





Here are those lighted walk ways i talkin’ about. I wonder what they pay for electricity.




Le Chef.



Well that’s it for now, I’ve gotten tired and have ran out of what to say, well not really I think I’ll save it for the next blog post. 



Lyon is a wonderful place and if you have a choice of visiting Paris or Lyon, I’d say visit Lyon.  Although I’d visit soon, because people will catch on to what Lyon has to offer.  People always do.

It’s manageable, it’s friendly, it’s walk able, it’s France.

Plus they have a subway and a tram.  


Until next time, au revoir.



ps. excuse the typos I’m too tired to proofread.

1 comment:

Chris Rahn said...

Man, beautiful city. So jealous :)