https://roadtips.typepad.com > The Old City of Lyon - April 2006

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Our main walk through the streets of the old city began at Cathedral Saint Jean. Fronted by Place Saint Jean, the open courtyard in front of the cathedral will have art shows, flea markets, bake sales and other events. But the Cathedral Saint Jean is something else. It is on a site where a cathedral built in the 4th century A.D. once stood. The cathedral, itself, was started in the 12th century and was finally finished in the 14th century.


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The inside of the cathedral is absolutely beautiful in its ornate detail. I had trouble figuring out how people could get the detail so exact using tools that were obviously far from today's modern tools. The stained glass windows - well, I'm a sucker for cool stained glass windows. And the cathedral had a lot of them. But to think that this was begun in the 12th century and finished about 150 to 200 years later is mind boggling to me.


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Also inside the cathedral stood an astronomical clock that was built in the 14th century. It was the first astronomical clock in France and showed the time, as well as the position of the sun, moon and planets. It was said that the clock could even predict solar and lunar eclipses. It was pretty cool they could come up with something like that back in the 1300's.


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The Basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere is pretty modern compared to the other structures on the top of the hill. It was constructed between 1872 and 1896 and is a commanding presence over looking the city.


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Here is a picture of the smaller of the two amphitheaters on the hill. Many archaeologists think this one may have had a roof over it. And they believe both amphitheaters were built about 1900 years ago.


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This is the largest of the two ancient amphitheaters on the right. Archaeologists estimate this sat up to 11,000 people.


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Throughout the old city of Lyon, there are a number of small walk ways off the streets called trabules. These were corridors that silk makers used to go between the rooms where silk was spun and out to the streets to either sell or deliver the silk to merchants.


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There are a number of trabules in this little area. Some are open to the public, some are closed off for private residences. Most of the trabules open into small court yards that have main doors to get up to apartments. Some of these buildings were built in the 16th century and are updated for modern conveniences.


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The streets of Vieux Lyon were hopping on this Sunday afternoon. People were walking along looking at the shop windows, listening to musicians playing in the street, looking at the wares of street artists, and just basically hanging out. The colors, sight and sound of the streets were very vibrant.


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Here's a street artist showing his work along a street in the old city of Lyon. Some of the stuff he had was pretty funky and not the kind of thing I'd be putting on my wall.


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There are a number of outdoor cafes in the old city of Lyon. In fact, Lyon has long been hailed as the capital of French gastronomy, or the science of pairing food with the senses. There are a number of great little restaurants in Lyon. I ate at a couple three my last trip here over three years ago, but unfortunately I didn't eat at any on this trip. The restaurants in Saint-Etienne - while good - don't hold a candle to some of the great little places to eat in Lyon.


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I took this picture of a girl sitting in front of a military surplus supply store. I sort of thought it was kind of interesting with the sign being both in French and English, and the girl innocently sitting there watching the world go by.


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Here's a picture of a street musician playing an xylophone in front of Celestins Theater, the third oldest theater in France (built in 1792). A number of people gathered on the steps to watch the crowd or listen to the music. Actually, the guy was pretty good.


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Once again, there are a number of small restaurants in this area of Lyon. This one wasn't open for dinner as of yet, but they had the window open and the plates set at the table getting ready for the evening crowds.


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And here's a shot of the menu for the restaurant posted on the outside wall near the door.


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Here is a picture of the steps up to the south side of the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere. I went down these steps when I was here three years ago. Going up the steps would have been a bitch (we took a trolley up the hill the last time I was here). But I love the colors in this shot and the seemingly endless steps in the picture.


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I did go up the steps a little ways this time. This is looking down the steps from the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere to the street below. This is looking east with the buildings shading the people in the foreground and the brilliant sun lighting up the distance. Did I forget to mention that it was a great day for late April in Lyon that day? It was about 23 Celsius or about 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I was wearing shorts.


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Here's another trabule looking from the courtyard out to the street.


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In the middle of the courtyard was this neat tower. I can only imagine it was once a place where silk was spun and the towers were used to ferry silk from the top floors down. It was pretty neat ancient architecture.


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And this is a picture of a door in the courtyard looking up to Fourviere. This door is the main building door going to people's flats in the courtyard. I love the colors and the background of the brilliant sun. I doubt this courtyard sees much direct sunlight at any time of the year (Lyon is about on the same latitude as Montreal).


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Rue de Boeuf - Beef Street in the old city of Lyon. The only place I've ever seen a street named after beef. and being a big beef eater, I had to take this picture.


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Looking down Rue du Beouf.


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One more menu for a restaurant on Rue Du Boeuf. This was a little place called the Sol Cafe (the Sun Cafe). It probably didn't seat more than 14 people.


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And we looped back to the start of our little walking trip through the old city of Lyon. Surprisingly, I wasn't as tired as I thought I'd be after being up for about 26 hours straight. I suppose the exhilaration of walking in a wonderfully historical area had something to do with that.