Lyon is France’s second largest city and just a few hours drive from my current residence, so reason enough to seek this weekend the sun in a city famous for its culinary pleasures, great views. Certainly a must-go, unless you are looking for bargains and an affordable time-out.
Let’s start on the positive side: walking around in Lyon, eating, drinking is great. Our favorite route was over de Rue de la Republique, in the direction of the city hall and the Place des Terreaux. From there, you can walk in a few minutes to the gorgeous old town (Vieux Lyon), with an endless line-up of restaurants, bars and shops. Just because Lyon is so large, just one weekend is enough to do the city justice.
The French certainly know how to amuse themselves, and create a nice atmosphere. In the evening a walk along the Rhone is certainly a must. Commercial terraces, partly on boats, but also many locals holding picnics in the grass.
We had decided to try at least once a restaurant with local food. But when we walked in View Lyon we ran into the Jasmin Garden, offering Shanghainese food, including mapo tofu. Then the local food was off again. The choice at the Jasmin Garden was limited, but the friendly host offered not only great food, but also access to their wifi.
Shopping streets a huge and the choice is abundant. But when you are looking for bargains, you are in Lyon at the wrong place. We saw an offer of 1 liter of mujito for euro 16.50, but otherwise the bargains were pretty scarce. The economic crisis was not really notable and was not forcing the local shops into competitive behavior that is pretty normal in for example Italy. Prices of food and drinks are also pretty high, but it did not stop the locals from going around.
Public transport is pretty well organized. Lyon is pretty much dominated by cars, but since getting a parking space is hard to get, you might as well use the subways, trams and buses. Important is to take enough euro’s in coins; the rather outdated selling machines do not accept credit cards or paper money. After closing hours, you have to pay tickets in coins and from the refusal by different shop owned, we concluded that we were not the first scavenging for coins.
Driving proved to be for other ways also a challenge, not only because of the lack of parking space. Different huge construction sites made it for our slightly outdated GPS hard to make sense out of the city. Our 3G provider must have a disagreement with their competitor in Lyon, since our smartphones did not help to find places. Searching for a gas station proved to be tough, since the city had removed many gas station, and our GPS had not updated with that rather crucial information. After four times a gas station promised at our GPS failed to turn up, we decided to flee the city.
Still, a great city, with many opportunities, although probably more for its residents than for occasional visitors. Our two days were certainly not enough, even not enough to visit the basilica and probably a lot of other nice place. One place can be avoided, the Halles Paul Bocuse, unless you are very much into cooking yourself. Guess Lyon tried to copy the Paris Halles, but it lacked atmosphere, and while the food was of high quality (in the shops, not the couple of restaurants), prices were too high.