I am not sure why, but somehow we have been overlooking traveling to France for almost 40 years. Of course, we have visited Paris like many others, but that is it. After exploring Italy for many years, we felt it was about time we targeted this magnificent country.
Following our extensive Provence road trip in 2018 – about which I have a vlog planned, but still need to dig through hours of GoPro footage – our excitement drove us to quite the decision: settling in the south of France as a future step in life. Managing our own bed and breakfast has been our ambition for quite some time, and why not combine this with building a life in France? Ok, it stil feels like a dream as I am writing this, and John Lennon taught me that ‘life happens when you are busy making other plans’. Nevertheless I not only consider myself to be a dreamer, but also an achiever. Let’s see what the future will bring.
What about Lyon?
With the south of France | the Provence as our aim for the future, there are two cities that appeals to us as a start for our next future destination in life: Marseille and Lyon. The first one we already visited during our road trip and was truly amazing. But what about Lyon? A city most travellers pass by on their way to the south of France or Italy. Would it be a city that captures our hearts? The stories we have read about Lyon and its culture were already very promising. A local even compared the city with Torino, but a bit more developed.
So we booked our flights, packed our bags… and headed towards the city that some call ‘a small version of Paris’.
A jazzy start of the day
The most important ingredient for exploring a city, is your starting point. The place you can call home for a couple of days, where you can re-energize after an intensive day. We chose the Kyriad Hotel as our Lyon HQ for the upcoming days, which turned out to be a great choice. The hotel is situated in the city centre and nearby the Perrache, a station that connects almost all public transport in Lyon. The Kyriad not only is affordable, but also very comfortable and cosy. The hotel has a jazz music vibe, which is also a theme in the decoration of the rooms and restaurant.
With Lyon as a potential city to live in, we had marked a couple of areas that we wanted to explore. This being: Presqu’ile and Confluence in the 2nd arrondissement, Vieux Lyon in the 5th and Croix Rousse in the 4th arrondissement. Keeping in mind that Lyon is quite a big city (2nd/3rd city of France), these districts felt like a good start for getting to know the culture and vibe.
A first impression that counts
What I can mention about Lyon at first sight, is that the city has its architectural charm. There are many beautiful buildings and squares and the city center also is very clean. There are charming shops and restaurants all around and the easy vibe of the Lyon grabs you. The fact that the 2nd arrondissement is surrounded by the Rhone and Saone rivers is also very nice, it offers an ideal hiking and biking route to the point where the two rivers become one.
It is also good to know that Lyon is marked as the gastronomical capital of France, with quality food and beverages all around. And despite the fact that tourism and the expat community is growing, Lyon still has a true French identity.
Our first steps brought us to the magnificent Place Bellecour, which is a giant square that offers a stunning view on the Notre-Dame de Fourvière situated on a hill. On this square you can also find a large ferris wheel, that offers an impressive view over the city. Wandering through the broad variety of cosy streets, we discovered yet another highlight: a beautiful fountain on Place des Jacobins, which is a true architectural gem.
It was already clear to us that Lyon has so much style and that the city could definitely make us feel welcome for a future living. As we continued our journey we also discovered a small Dutch ingredient – a HEMA store! -, a delicious chocolate shop and a street packed with traditional French restaurants. Tip: restaurants in Lyon are always packed, so be sure to make a reservation when you plan on eating out.
Ending the first day on a high note
Exploring a city for the first time, sucks up most of your energy… and after quite the hours of walking and soaking up the beauty of Lyon, we still decided that we could make it to Croix Rousse. This is the more alternative, artist district of the city and is situated on a hill. To make a too long story short: the area is amazing! There are vintage and authentic shops everywhere and the hill offers a stunning view over Lyon. Especially at sundown, when all the locals gather in the small park at the end of Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse.
We decided to end our first day with a dinner at Lyon’s finest: a traditional Bouchon lyonnais, which is a kind of fancy and authentic restaurant that serves traditional (and expensive!) Lyonnaise cuisine. A well deserved meal after an exciting day!
Curious to read how we spent our second day in Lyon? Our story continues HERE.