Welcome to my place ... Lyon
Escape the tourists and get a wonderful bird’s eye view of Lyon from the Jardin des Curiosités
Susannah Butler (third from right) enjoying a day trip to the medieval village of Pérouges, close to Lyon, with friends Karen, Vaia and Heather
Fourvière hill with Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and communication tower in Lyon, as seen from Saone river.
Susannah Butler, originally from Castlebar, Co Mayo, first arrived in Lyon three years ago. She is a teacher in an international school, as is her husband, Mark. They decided to settle in Lyon after spending a number of years living in both Switzerland and Thailand.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Lyon?
First stop is the hidden gem of a secret garden called Jardin des Curiosités which is located in my old neighbourhood of St Just. It has the most wonderful bird’s eye view of Lyon. Generally known only by locals, you can be sure to escape the tourists here. It’s also a lovely place to relax on a nice summer’s evening as the sun goes down.
The top three things to do in Lyon that don’t cost money are . . . .
A must-see landmark is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière perched high up above the city. You can either walk up from Vieux Lyon or cheat and take the funicular up, before wandering around the beautiful interior and then taking in the glorious views overlooking the city. On a clear day, you may be lucky and spot Mont Blanc in the distance.
The old town, Vieux Lyon, is lovely for a wander around. Its narrow cobbled streets are lined with typical Renaissance architecture and the famous traboules are worth exploring. These are secret passageways going from street to street through the buildings, and were originally used by the local silk workers to transport their goods during wet weather.
Strolling along the Rhône and stopping off for a glass of local wine at one of the many riverside barges makes you appreciate the great city of Lyon. Continue up to Parc de la Tete D’Or which includes a free zoo and botanical gardens.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Lyon?
As the gastronomic capital of France, this is a very difficult question to answer. However, one of Lyon’s famous bouchons should be at the top of your list. These old bistros serve local cuisine which may just include many parts of an animal you’re not expecting. Try Cafe des Fédérations with traditional dishes such as quenelle (fish-based dumpling) or tête de veau (calf head). Do make sure to go for a bouchon that is accredited by the association Les Bouchons Lyonnais.
For the finest Michelin-starred French dining experience, indulge in an evening at the world famous Paul Bocuse restaurant. Known as “the pope of French cooking”, this famous Lyonnais chef passed away earlier this year leaving a strong culinary legacy behind.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Lyon’s place in history?
Lyon stands on the site of the Roman capital of Gaul known as Lugdunum. There is no better place to get a feel for Lugdunum (which is also the name of the local GAA team) than taking a stroll up through the impressive Roman amphitheatre. It really comes alive in summer each year with the magical Nuits des Fourvières concerts.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Lyon?
Food-related items are a must including the well known Lyon praline brioche called Praluline. Head to one of the three famous Pralus shops where they’re made right in front of you. For more savoury souvenirs, wander around Lyon’s gourmet indoor market Les Halles de Paul Bocuse.
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