Posted by: David Stewart | July 1, 2013

Markets, Underground Tunnels, Lyon France!

These are from some notes I took about our Spring 2013 trip

Sunday, May 12

Lyon "traboule" tour

A Lyon traboule

Lyon, France, Sunday market

Older parts of Lyon are riddled with traboules, which are passageways between streets, under houses and between buildings. Some of these date back as far as the Romans but many were created so that silk merchants could move their wares without exposing them to the weather.

A typical traboul would be a numbered address on the city street where you open the door, walk down a tunnel through courtyards and open another door, and you find yourself on another block entirely.

Our guidebook strongly recommended taking a walking tour of the traboules, but apparently before summer there is not an English tour available on Sunday. But at the tourist information center, they recommended taking the 10 euro French tour anyway because the guides had access to traboules which were normally inaccessible. The tour took us to some beautiful and interesting places, but we understood not a word of it.

Lyon, France

Vieux Lyon

Before the tour, we walked along the river through a delightful artist’s market on one side and a food market on the other side. We got great photos of the meats, cheeses, vegetables, breads and flowers in this crowded analog to the Seattle Pike Place Market.

At the TI, we bought tickets to our tour and had some extra time, so we walked to a nearby cobblestone street loaded with restaurants called the Rue des Marronniers. After lunching on fish we walked further into this section of town to view other old buildings.

After the traboules tour, we hopped on the funicular up to the top of the hill above Vieux Lyon to check out the view and the church, the Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourviere. This basilica was built in the late 19th century and has some very elaborate mosaics and lightings and seeming heard of angels at the ready. There was a mass going on when we visited, and I didn’t feel too comfortable wandering around a lot, so we slipped downstairs to check out the crypt.

Lyon "traboule" tour

There are some garden paths around the top of the hill which gives other views of the city, but after a while we started wandering back down the hill into Vieux Lyon. Half way down the hill, we walked past a very swank place called the hotel atheneum.

One problem with Lyon on Sunday – although the place was hopping like crazy on Saturday night, it was quiet as a tomb on Sunday. Many of the recommended restaurants were closed, so we were a bit worried about finding a place. Our guidebook highly recommended Le Bouchon des Filles, which was one of the few places which seemed to be open, so we headed over there.

Fortunately, Le Bouchon des Filles had a table for two, so we were able to have dinner there. This is a bouchon, but a much less casual place than the one we ate at the previous night. It is owned and totally run by women, and is a terrific place. Deb ordered their quenelle, which had a more fishy taste than the one I had had before. The most interesting part though was the couple who occupied the next table. They struck up a conversation, partly due to their concern that the wine served was not cold enough, so they added ice cubes to it!

Lyon, France

They turned out to be a retired couple from Munich who were headed down to St-Tropez. He was retired from the recycling business but was doing work in real estate. They were staying at the Atheneum, the fancy hotel we had walked past earlier and had visited the basilica at the top of the hill. They noticed that Deb and I had prayed before our meal and this invited the woman in particular to assert her faith as a Christian and how much the basilica had struck her spiritually and her desire to grow spiritually. But she also talked about their concern that Germany would have to bail out the European Unions money problems to compensate for the war. She also talked about her fears of the Turks, who she felt were invading their country and bringing in Islam.

Very disturbing to us.

We decided it wasn’t our job to convince them that they might have the wrong idea of Turkish people. We didn’t tell them for example what a great time we had spending two weeks in Turkey. It didn’t seem like the right time to start an argument. We were just glad to have a personal encounter with local people and to learn something.

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