Unveiling the Cultural Tapestry of the Rhône-Alpes
OK, today is the last day of our Viking River Cruise (click here to view our Trip Overview Page) and today is the more interesting Lyon city tour. There is another tour departing for Cluny, France - but that one required a two hour bus ride in each direction. So we make the easy decision that we'd rather see the city in more detail.
The Lyon City tour first stop is at La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière which is another amazing example of a Gothic Church. Built with private funds in 1872 to 1884, on the site of what was once the Roman forum of Trajan.
Interesting Facts about Lyon
- Lyon is part of the UNESCO's World Heritage.
- Lyon has the restaurant which is among the best restaurants over the longest period of time.
- Lyon was the birthplace of cinema.
- The "Petit Prince" book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is the 4th most translated book in the World. Beautiful illustrations were also drawn by Saint-Exupéry himself.
- Lyon has 400 secret passageways.
- In Roman times, Lyon – at least Fourvière, the ancient part – was called Lugdunum and everything that came from Rome heading towards the northern colonies transited through here, making the city a crucial crossroads. The fact that two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, meet here helped make it strategic.
- The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, high on the hill above the Roman ruins, was built on top of the Roman forum of Trajan.
- Nostradamus predicted several events in Lyon − correctly.
- The hot air balloon was invented in Lyon.
- Lyon boasts the first female chef to get three Michelin stars.
Lyon Ancient Roman Theatre of Fourvière
The remains of the Roman colony "Colonia Copia Felix Munatia", a name invoking prosperity and the blessing of the gods. The city became increasingly referred to as Lugdunum, the earliest translation of this Gaulish place-name as "Desired Mountain".
Our Viking Tour Bus took us to this area on the way to La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
The Roman City Lugdunum was founded under a policy of establishing settlements in newly conquered areas, with the aims of ensuring the stability of those areas and rewarding retired veteran soldiers with land and rights. The settlement initiatives were established by Julius Caesar, and included the cities of Vienne, Noviodunum (Switzerland), and Augusta Raurica. The indigenous people in this area were the Allobroges, they founded the city of Lyon when the Roman Army drove them out of Vienne.
This ancient amphitheater was originally designed to accommodate around 10,000 spectators, showcasing various forms of entertainment such as theater, music, and gladiatorial contests. Its well-preserved stone structure, adorned with intricate carvings and elegant arches, transports visitors back in time, allowing them to experience the magnificence of Roman engineering and artistic prowess.
This site was listed as an "Historical Monument" in 1905. The Great Theatre, the oldest in France, was built by Augustus in 15 BCE.
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière Interior
Constructed during 1872 - 1884, the interior is a beautiful example of the neo-byzantine-gothic style. Because it is still a church in operation, the guides insist on silence and no flash photography.
La Basilique Decorations
The stained glass windows were beautiful and the ceiling was very high above us but was also a work of art! The mural that can be seen in image two is titled "The battle of Lepanto".
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière Exterior
These images were taken outside the Basilica, and because it sits high above Lyon on a ridge, the views of the city below are superb.
Although you cannot see it in these pictures, the rear area of this church is next to a wall that overlooks the city of Lyon below the ridge that the church is located on. The view is fantastic - the church grounds are approximately 928 feet above sea level, while the majority of Lyon is at 550 feet above sea level. Gives you some idea of the height of the ridge eh?
Image two was taken in front of the basilica, as we had to queue up there waiting to be allowed inside. They limit the number of people inside to avoid any type of damage to the interior.
Image # 1 is a view of the Cathedral from the city of Lyon below. On a clear day, the Cathedral can be seen for miles due to it's elevation.
Because the basilica sits high up on a ridge, it is one of the most visible landmarks in the city, and one of the symbols of the city of Lyon. It gives Lyon its status as a “Marian city”. About two million tourists are welcomed each year in the basilica. The basilica complex includes not only the building, the Saint-Thomas chapel and the statue, but also the panoramic esplanade, the Rosary garden and the Archbishopric of Lyon.
NOTE: Click here to see the Google Images set of pictures.
Street Art in Lyon
The Lyon Fresco (aka "La Fresque des Lyonnais")
At first glance you see what appears to be a very busy building, with people walking by or standing on balconies… but take a closer look and you’ll see that this is actually one giant fresco! Painted with the trompe-l’oeil – or “trick of the eye” – technique, this giant fresco celebrates over thirty local figures who have made their mark over 2,000 years of Lyonnais history, from the Roman emperor Claudius to the renowned chef Paul Bocuse.
Click here to view a set of Google Images of this building located at 2 Rue de la Martinière very near the Saône River, 1/2 block off the Quai Saint-Vincent.
Click here to go to the "This is Lyon" website and a more complete description of the Lyon Fresco.
Opéra Nouvel (Nouvel Opera House)
The Opéra Nouvel (Nouvel Opera House) in Lyon, France is the home of the Opéra National de Lyon. The original opera house was re-designed by the distinguished French architect, Jean Nouvel between 1985 and 1993 in association with the agency of scenography dUCKS scéno and the acoustician Peutz. Serge Dorny was appointed general director in 2003.
The Lyon Fresco up Close
Image one is a side view of the Lyon Fresco and image two is a shop at the base of the Fresco - you can see the river on the right side of image two, as our tour bus was parked on the Quai Saint-Vincent.
Lyon Street Scenes
Image one was taken near the The Lyon Fresco and the La Saone River. Image two is near the Place des Terreaux where we found a seafood restaurant and had lunch there.
Place des Terreaux
This is a square located in the center of Lyon on the Presqu'île between the Rhône and the Saône rivers, at the foot of the hill of La Croix-Rousse in the 1st arrondissement. The square belongs to the zone classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This area is surrounded by shops, restaurants, narrow streets, statues and sometimes excellent views of the church up on the hill.
The building in the center of the first image, is the Hôtel de Ville de Lyon the city hall of the City of Lyon and one of the largest historic buildings in the city, located between the Place des Terreaux and the Place de la Comédie, in front of the Opera Nouvel. Since 12 July 1886, the building has been classified as a Monument historique.
The statue shown in image # 2, is the "Fontaine Bartholdi" a fountain sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The sculptor is also the artist who designed the Statue of Liberty, which made him famous in France. There is also a Bartholdi Fountain in Washington D.C.
La Confluence Mall
Celeste and I decided to have our last meal ashore, rather than sit through another "formal" meal onboard the Viking Heimdal. This was not a comment on the ship's food (it was good), but more of a "we are not truly hungry, and we wanted to have something local" before we leave Lyon. We found a small restaurant in the La Confluence Mall, and we had gallettes - if you have never had one, do a Google Search, because they are fantastic!
Although I came back to the ship to let my back and leg nerves get a break, Celeste went on a walk and discovered some interesting architecture. Images 1 and 4 are of the "Orange Cube" building on the Saône River near the La Confluence Mall. This six-story building is separated into a double-height showroom on the ground floor and offices on the upper levels, with a roof terrace surrounding offices on the sixth floor. Image 2 is of the La Confluence Mall, and as you can see, it is very distinctive architecture. When the Viking Heimdal moved to the Saône River, we were docked immediately next to this mall. Image 3 is another cube building, similar to the Orange building.
NOTE: Click here to view a Google Images set of pictures for this area of Lyon.
- Just Traveling Thru European Travel Tips
- Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
- Lyon History on the 'Britannica' site
- Things to see & do in Lyon on the 'Crazy Tourist' site
- Things to see & do in Lyon on the 'Travel US News' site
- Things to see & do in Lyon on the 'Culture Trip' site
- Google Search Results list for "Lyon Restaurants"
- Google Search Results list for "Lyon Accommodations"
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